If you’re striving to be a more sustainable traveller like we do, then eco-hotels are what you’re looking for. Travel is great – it broadens our perspective, opens our minds, enhances our happiness, helps us relieve stress and connects us with other cultures. But it also takes its toll on the environment, which can sometimes cause a sense of guilt amongst eco-conscious travellers. Thanks to the rise of ecotourism, that no longer needs to be the case. To have guilt-free holidays, opt for environmentally friendly travel options such as eco-friendly hotels.
What do we mean by eco-hotel?
Eco-hotels are environmentally friendly hotel concepts that respect their surroundings and are committed to sustainability. Therefore, they can be defined as hotels designed not to harm the environment. Also known as green hotels or sustainable hotels, eco-resorts not only reduce their impact on the environment, but also give back to the local communities. So in short, they are what environmentally conscious travellers are looking for.
There are various practices to achieve an eco-friendly hotel status, from using renewable energy sources and organic materials to sourcing local products. Nearly all green hotels are members of green hotel certification programs such as LEED, Green Key, and The Rainforest Alliance.
What practices do eco-friendly hotels have?
There are many practices hotels should follow to become more sustainable. These can be super simple, like switching to reusable glass bottles, to more advanced practices such as using alternative energy methods. Let’s look at some great sustainable practices that you can find at eco-hotels.
Waste management policies
- Getting rid of single-use plastic water bottles in favour of glass ones
- Having a bottling plant on-site
- Replacing single-use toiletries and cleaning products with refillable counterparts
- Composting food waste
Reduced water consumption
- Installing low-flow showerheads and toilets
- Using rainwater filtration systems
- Repurposing grey water
- Using in-house renewable energy practices such as solar energy panels or wind power
- Switching to LED lights and energy-saving appliances to reduce energy consumption
- Installing individually controlled air conditioning and heating systems that can be turned off when rooms are unoccupied.
- Incorporating eco-friendly and local building materials
- Using furniture that is made from natural and renewable materials
- Having an environmentally friendly architectural design that complements its natural surroundings
- Using organic materials such as linen, hemp and cotton for bedding, towels, and other soft furnishings
Local community support
- Engaging in community and conservation programs
- Investing percentage of their profits to community development
- Supporting local workforce by hiring locally
Locally sourced menu
- Having a farm-to-table approach to dining
- Using locally sourced produce
- Creating a menu based on seasonal produce, ideally from an on-site garden
The best way to assess how green a hotel is, it’s to read their sustainability report on their website and check their green certification. If you’re in doubt, you can always ask them about their view on sustainability. But why does it matter?
Importance of eco-hotels
Tourism is a great way to enhance local communities when it’s done right. However, most of the time it’s more of a curse than a blessing for the local people and the environment. This is mainly due to a lack of environmental policies and regulations. But thanks to the rapid growth of eco-travel and increased awareness of sustainability, eco-friendly hotels are on the rise.
These socially responsible hotels have a massive positive impact on the environment and the local communities. Staying at one of these eco-lodges feels more like a contribution than a holiday. The majority of the eco-resorts give back to the local communities by planting trees, buying clean water for schools, supporting local crafts and using locally sourced produce. A great example is Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. One of the best eco-friendly hotels in the world, Park Hyatt Maldives ticks nearly all the boxes for environmentally friendly status. Their sustainability practices include protecting the surrounding reefs by employing marine biologists to monitor the water quality and fish diversity. Now that’s a hotel we would be happy to visit!
There are many other great examples all around the world, from low-key eco tree hotels to high-end hotel brands embracing eco-luxury. If you’ve ever been to one, share your experience with us in the comments below!