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Watch out Paris! You may be all smug with your Left Bank but you have a pretender to your throne. London is about to get its own Left Bank.
Ok, so maybe the French shouldn’t be doing any boot-quivering yet. Because the London’s Left Bank is currently under construction, and is going to be tucked away in Battersea, in south-west London. And last time we were in Battersea, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. At all.
Still, the new Hotel Rafayel on the Left Bank is hoping to up the vibe, and it sounds pretty nice. Opening in December, it’s going to be a five star hotel complete with bakery, champagne bar and Thameside restaurant. So far, so yawn – except this is going to be an eco hotel with rain-water harvesting system, energy-efficient air con and low energy lighting. Which doesn’t sound that impressive, until they say that the carbon footprint of each hotel room will be a whopping 75% less than the London average.
We know Loch Ness for its mysterious monster lore and tranquil scenery, but not so much for its green environmental efforts. Which isn't to say that the Scottish aren't pioneering eco-saving projects overseas, specifically in the hotel sector, but other well-known chains like Kimpton have been ruling the news lately.
We recently stumbled across The Lovat Arms, an unassuming hotel that offers views of the surrounding Highlands (and maybe that elusive plesiosaur), touts itself as being "eco-conscious," and has earned a Silver rating from the Green Tourism Business Scheme, the UK's "national sustainable tourism certification" organization.
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Green Hotels don’t usually equal sexy hotels – and if they do, you can generally assume that the eco side is more for effect than hardcore environmental causes. But a big exception to the rule has just opened up in Britain: The Scarlet hotel in boho Cornwall.
It may look like just another chic clifftop Cornish hotel with its slinky furnishings (it’s even a member of Design Hotels), Michelin-starred chef, Atlantic views and “private outdoor space” for each of its 37 rooms, but under all the glitz is lurking a seriously green hotel.
Not one to slack in the eco department, even after winning a distinguished "World Saver" award this week, Kimpton continues their quest to greenify the planet, one hotel at a time.
San Diego's Hotel Solamar is already rife with Earth-friendly touches, like recycling bins, low-flow showers, and organic food at the hotel restaurant. For the ultra eco-friendly among us (we're looking at you, hybrid-driving, farmers market shopping readers), Hotel Solamar has just launched a Live Green, Stay Green package to give guests an all-out eco-aware experience.
HotelChatter love love loves Treehouse Hotels. We don't know why. Maybe we watched the "Swiss Family Robinson" way too many times on the Disney Channel growing up. But either way, we love 'em and this new Canopy Tree House Suite at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica in Peru has us extremely giddy.
If you're looking to spice up your next hotel stay, you must book this suite which sits 90 feet above the forest floor and offers up close and personal viewing of toucans, monkeys, orchids and fauna. But it's not just a wooden plank that's been plopped into a tree and secured by a few nails. No, the thatched roof and wooden treehouse is not only exclusive but a little ritzy too. Well, as ritzy as you can get in a rainforest.
From the hotel:
The Tree House can only be accessed via Inkaterra’s existing Canopy Walk network and is serviced by a dedicated Canopy Butler reachable via walkie-talkie. Meals, excursions, and sundowners on the Canopy Walk network can be arranged by your butler.
The Bardessono in Yountville, Calif.
As part of our Summer Reading List for Hotel Geeks, once a week, we will review a book about hotels whether it be fiction, non-fiction, historical, auto-biographical or even just a cool coffee table book with incredible photos. These could be the perfect books to kick back with while laying poolside, or while working the late-night shift at the front desk or while entertaining friends with your high-falutin' aspiring hotelier schemes. Our latest read is of the travel guide variety but we loved these California hotel picks.
As a former long-time California resident, we were excited to learn about fellow travel writer Lena Katz’ new Travel Temptations series of books, SNOW, SIP and SUN – especially SUN: California: Delicious Destinations, Secret Hideaways, Expert Sources , since this HotelChatter contributor moved to the land of Vitamin D deficiencies, a.k.a. Seattle.
We asked Katz to dish on her fave summer vacay destinations in the Golden State. She shared with us four Northern California picks, all known for their emphasis on nature – not artificial materials.
We'll give a thumbs up to this initiative even though it's just another notch in Element's green bedpost (teehee): Starwood's new eco-friendly, low-priced chain announced today that they'll be installing an electric car charging station at its Lexington property.
Almost as cool as the Charles Hotel's Juice Bar, Carbon Day Automotive has established a partnership with Starwood to split the cost of installing one of their ChargePoint Charging Stations in Lexington, slated to be up and running tomorrow. These stations offer universal plug-ins for electric cars, buses, Segway scooters and bikes, and "subscriptions" are sold in units of "sessions," which the Chargepoint site describes as a "transaction that covers the entire charging sequence from plug-in to plug-out."
As long as you're subscribed, all you need to do is swipe a keyfob to charge your electric vehicle at the station (you don't have to be an Element guest to use it) and the sweet thing about this particular brand of charger is that you can actually locate a nearby station and check to see whether or not it's occupied right from your smartphone (as long as it's got Google Maps functionality).
This is another component of Element's green transportation program; recall that these hotels promote green go-go-go-ing by giving better parking spots to people cruising around in hybrid or electric cars, and they'll loan bikes to guests for free.
Hotel Solamar in San Diego is a place we usually associate with boutique hotel coolness but recently it's also been getting some press for being green and, as every HC reader know, boutiqueyness and earth-friendliness together is something we like.
Some of the green touches that are being reported include organic coffee and tea, lots of recycling bins, environmentally-friendly bathroom amenities and cleaning products, and more organic foods once you hit the restaurant, too. In fact, Hotel Solamar's website includes a pretty long list of stuff they like to do as part of their EarthCare program so we can add energy-efficient lighting, low-flow showers and recycling of extra stuff like clothes hangers and batteries to the list. They even give you a parking discount if you show up in a hybrid car.
All of these are little things to do but if you make the list long enough, they've got to be making a pretty good dent, right? We're just a little bit less than keen on the low-flow shower, but we're prepared to do our bit to be green even if it means a bit of extra shampoo residue hanging around for the day.
Rates start at around $225 a night for the deluxe room, or $275 if you include a spa; add $30 and you can get their Summer Playground package which includes a $25 credit for the restaurant, sangria, a movie and popcorn in your room and a couple of ice creams in the afternoon.
Fairmont's got a whole lot of greenin' going on lately, with tons of initiatives (and a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund) to appeal to eco-conscious travelers and, we suppose, to save the earth and stuff, too.
The newest publicized green initiative outta the planet-friendly hotel chain: their grease recycling program. That is, they're recycling kitchen oils instead of discarding them (some properties have been doing this for a while now). And what are the properties doing with those kitchen oils, you ask?
Here are a few shining (or greasy & glistening, we suppose) examples:
· Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa: Approximately 150 gallons of kitchen grease each quarter is turned into tallow or feed with the help of a local biodiesel firm.
· The Fairmont Scottsdale has partnered with a local firm to "transform leftover oil into fuel for vineyards and other businesses that rely on diesel, generators, forklifts and cars."
· The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise converts their kitchen grease into fuel to power grounds equipment and two resort shuttle buses.
· The Fairmont Banff Springs converts cooking oils to fuel used to operate golf course maintenance equipment.
Kinda sweet, huh? A pretty healthy roster of properties participate in some sort of cooking oil recycling programs across the Fairmont chain, so next time you munch on those room-service french fries of yours, think about the good you're (sorta) doing for the environment instead of the bad stuff you're doing to your body.
Nosara is located in Costa Rica’s North Pacific province of Guanacaste, about 160 miles west of San Jose, best reached via a short flight on Nature Air, followed by a short taxi ride. The village is a surfer’s paradise and The Harmony Hotel has one of the area’s best stretches of beach and surf breaks just outside its back door. Playa Guione’s is a near 4-mile swath of white sandy beach with year-round waves and long left and right beach breaks.
Since we hadn’t been on a surfboard in ages, we asked the staff where we should go for a refresher, since it seemed like surfing savviness was a job requisite at Harmony (as well as super buff arms, flat abs, and the boyish good looks of the Jonas Brothers). For surfboard rentals, we were directed to Nosara Surf Shop, a short walk from the hotel.
But for instruction, we were sent to innocent surf school. There, we were outfitted by Brit-owners, Ru Hill and his Kate Moss look-alike wife, Gem Yates. There are four levels of instructor status within the British Surfing Association (BSA), with only 20 Level 4 Surf Coach Award instructors in the world – Ru is one of them.
Upon pulling up to El Silencio Lodge & Spa in the volcanic region of Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica, we were instantly put into a Zen-like trance. Sitting high in a tropical cloud forest, the 16-suite, earth-friendly property straddles two national park systems on a 510-acre swath of land; home to over 300 species of birds and wildlife, including howler monkeys, spider monkeys, coatis, armadillos and sloths. Frenetic spurts of rain, tendrils of fog, and the occasional late afternoon clashes of thunder and lightning all added to the moody yet sexy vibe of the place.
The Post Ranch Inn has long had green initiatives in place, but with their new solar panel installation they're taking things to a new level. They've just switched on a 990-panel solar array to grab that great Californian sunshine and turn it into electricity enough electricity to produce 400,000 kWh of energy a year and reduce their carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 50 cars out of action.
Guests at the Post Ranch have apparently been intrigued by the solar panels during the construction phase, and anyone on the property can access info about the program in the hotel library, which includes a monitoring station showing what's happening with the energy at any moment. If you can't afford the not-so-cheap room rates ($655 is a starting point) then you can check their online solar energy monitor to see real-time updates of the system's performance and (the coolest part) the energy-savings comparisons in terms of cars off the road, square meters of forest preserved and metric tons of carbon emissions avoided.