FTF's roundup of some of the best eco-friendly hotels, resorts and travel destinations where sustainable tourism and family fun meet.
Whether you are seeking a rustic and secluded experience in the Alaskan wilderness or a tropical luxury vacation in Fiji, more and more resorts are turning “green”; that is, engaging in environment-friendly practices. Here is a list of top-rated resorts that can guarantee a great stay without the guilt.
US Eco-Lodges in the Mountains
Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge,
Inside Kachemak Bay State Park
Homer, Alaska 99603
For the ultimate rustic experience, priced like a 5-star resort, visit Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge, one of the “Top 10 Eco-Resorts in North America” as ranked by Natural Home magazine. The small size of the lodge fosters an intimate connection between the guests and host-owners Randy and Keith Iverson. The lodge runs on a non-polluting alternative energy system of wind and hydropower, and boasts crisp and delicious crystal-clear mountain spring water. Guests can participate in outdoors activities such as hiking in nearby Kachemak Bay State Park, sea and glacier kayaking, clamming, wildlife photography, and bear-viewing for an extra fee. Children of all ages are welcome, however they are expected to respect the resort’s quiet atmosphere. The lodge is composed of five cabins; rates are $500/N per person during the winter season, and $425/N per person during the summer season. Other payments include $125 per guest for a roundtrip water taxi to and from Homor, plus a local sales tax of 3%. A two-night minimum stay is required, and rates include all meals, lodging, access to lodge facilities and equipment, and services such as morning coffee and housekeeping.
Grand Teton Lodge Company
Moran, Wyoming 83013
Praised for its scenic beauty, Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) lives by its commitment to renewable energy, elimination of waste, protection of Grand Teton National Park wildlife, and environmental education. Grand Teton offers four unique lodges in the park — each open at various times although most are in operation from May through September — so be sure to plan ahead. These retreats include Jenny Lake Lodge, a small and rustic retreat in the shadows of the Teton Mountains; Jackson Lake Lodge, a luxury resort perched on a bluff overlooking Jackson Lake and the Tetons; Colter Bay Village, an area with cozy log cabins, tent cabins and RV sites on Jackson Lake; and Snake River Lodge & Spa, the upscale, year-round ski and summer resort. In addition to golf and tennis, fishing, boat rentals, bus tours, and horseback riding, GTLC offers location-specific activities such as Jackson Lake cruises (choose from a narrated, scenic cruise, a breakfast cruise, or an evening cookout at a private site on Elk Island) and Snake River Float trips, all ideal for tweens and teens. Rates vary by choice of lodging, from $55/N for one room with a semi-private bath in Colter Bay Village, to $219/N for a room without a view in Jackson Lake Lodge, and $585/N for a one room, duplex-style cabin in Jenny Lake Lodge.
Hotel Terra Jackson Hole
3335 West Village Road
Teton Village, Wyoming 83025
Rated one of the top 50 resorts in October 2008 by Ski magazine, Hotel Terra Jackson Hole is the first in a collection of green hotels launched by Terra Resort Group. Hotel Terra Jackson Hole includes 72 rooms and suites, which meet all your eco and organic needs. Rooms are equipped with 100% organic cotton sheets, towels, bathmats, bathrobes, and even mattresses, as well as gas fireplaces and Hi-Def televisions. Nestled in Teton Village, Wyoming, it’s the perfect location for skiing in winter, horseback riding in summer and visiting natural parks year-round. Hotel Terra Jackson Hole has a pending LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which will put it in an elite group of LEED certified hotels in the United States.
US Eco-Lodges in Waterfront Resort Areas
Little St. Simons Island
100 Hampton Point Drive
Little St. Simons Island, GA 31522
Listed on CondeNast Traveler’s 2004 Gold List, Little St. Simon’s Island (LSSI) is ideal for vacationers seeking a quiet, isolated resort experience. No more than 30 overnight guests stay on the small private island, 10,000 preserved acres, that can only be reached by boat. Little St. Simon’s is a member of the Green Globe program, which addresses major environmental, social, and economic issues that face our planet by focusing on key environmental or social impact areas. Green Globe participants must have a sustainability policy in effect, and meet or exceed Accommodation Performance Benchmarks in such areas as energy consumption, waste production, and water conservation; LSSI has surpassed eight of nine benchmarks. Though expensive, remember that meals (three family-style meals a day), drinks, and activities are also included in the price. Guests can enjoy bird watching, oceanfront sunbathing, swimming, beach combing, and hiking. Also offered are guided interpretive and family programs with knowledgeable naturalists, which are designed to engage guests in hands-on adventures and discovery. Rates vary by weekday, holiday/weekend, or February stay (prices are cheapest during this month) and cottage type, and range from $625/N for a room in Hunting Lodge to $1,150/N for a suite in Helen House. Children of all ages are welcome from May through September, and children over 8 from October through April.
Schooner Isaac H. Evans
Rockland, ME 04841
And now for something completely different. Enjoy a cruise aboard a schooner without the hassle of computers or cell phones. Nicknamed “the family boat,” the schooner Isaac H. Evans specializes in family trips and offers shore explorations and activities that parents and children ages 6 and up can enjoy. The environmental efforts of the crew include serving organic food (their specialty is fresh caught lobster), cooking on a wooden stove (no fossil fuels), and using wind-power. Once each year, the schooner commits to the International Coastal Cleanup project, a six-day voyage to clean up debris along the coastline. Though each cruise has no set itinerary, traditional activities include a lobster bake on a deserted island and enjoying the beautiful New England scenery. The schooner sleeps up to 22 in 11 berths, and 2009 rates for three- to six-day cruises range from $600 to $950 (the season runs from June through October, and the coastal cleanup occurs sometime in mid-September). Prices are per person and include full crew and captain, all meals, on site parking, activities, and taxes.
Island Eco-Lodges in Tropical Getaways
Saint John, VI 00830
St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, boasts four green resorts: Maho Bay Camps (most popular), Concordia Eco-Tents, Concordia Studios, and Harmony Studios. With tree-top fixed tents, canvas tent-cottages, and open pavilions assembled in “Swiss Family Robinson” style, the Maho Bay camps and resorts have been built using “site-sensitive” techniques so guests can stay in luxury without worrying about damaging the environment. Construction methods minimize the removal of vegetation and use recycled building materials. Walkways are elevated to prevent soil erosion and to protect beach life, but the steep natural pitch of some of the housing makes this a tough place for little ones who tire easily and anyone who is mobility-impaired. The resorts offers a four-hour work exchange program in which participants receive free lodging and other discounts in exchange for one month of service (120 hours for 30-day stay) on Maho Bay grounds to help keep the resorts attractive for guests. The tropical climate of the islands allows for water sports such as sailing, scuba diving, and power boating, and families can enjoy classes such as tie-dying fabric together. Rates vary by time of stay and choice of accommodations, and start at $80/night from May to December, double occupancy. Within this time frame, families will also enjoy the “Kids Stay Free” program for children under 16.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort
Savusavu, Fiji Islands
Listed in 2005 on CondeNast Traveler’s distinguished Green List and on their Gold List in 2006, and the recipient of the 2008 World Travel Awards for Fiji’s Leading Resort, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s five-star Fiji Islands Resort is the place to stay. Built on a former coconut plantation, the 17-acre resort features 25 spacious, indigenous thatch bures. The resort focuses on the preservation of nature, and participates in eco-sensitive activities such as fishing outside the reef in the deep ocean (where fish are plentiful), and utilizing a water waste system that uses coconuts and recycled bottles to produce clean water. In order to promote an environment-conscious lifestyle, the resort grows fresh produce in an organic garden and provides healthy meals. A visit to the Fiji Resort can be fun, with activities such as snorkeling and volleyball, and educational, with excursions to local villages, rain forest hikes, and basket weaving classes. They are also the only property on Fiji that has a full-time, resident marine biologist who is on hand to explain the surrounding beauty. The complimentary Bula Club for infants to age 12 offers a full-day program that keeps kids busy with swimming in the freshwater pool, arts’n’crafts, and beachcombing. A reportedly excellent nanny service is also available at an additional charge. Rates vary within the year and can be confirmed only by contacting the resort, but expect to pay from US$575/N for a gardenview room sleeping a family of four, based on a three-night stay. All meals and transportation to and from the airport are included.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.