Green Getaways: A Guide to Environmentaly Friendly Lodging

Why should you give up the healthy, natural lifestyle you live at home when you hit the road? Today’s green inns, hotels, and B&Bs are changing the way we travel.

| July/August 2001

  • Photo by Heather Gergen

There’s nothing quite like a getaway to restore your senses, rekindle your energy, and remind you how much you appreciate the basics: eating well and sleeping well, in parti­cular. That’s why accommodations are such an important part of traveling. Whether you’re on a weekend lark or traveling on business, it’s nice to end the day in a room that really embraces you. Organic cotton towels, sheets that haven’t been laundered with harsh chemicals, breakfasts made from organic ingredients—these are hard things to come by on the road.

Enter the Green Hotels Association, which boasts more than 17,000 environmentally conscious rooms across the country. As more travelers label themselves “ecologically concerned,” a new breed of bed and board is making itself available to both vacationers and business travelers. From big hotel chains in major cities—such as the Super 8 in Los Angeles—to quaint inns, hostels, and bed and breakfasts, it’s becoming a lot easier to sleep green.

Let’s face it, traveling uses valuable resources and creates air pollution. According to the Environmental News Network, one tree should be planted for every 1,600 miles a person flies, and three trees planted for every 2,000 miles driven. But you can make less impact by choosing your travel accommodations carefully. The lodgings featured on the following pages are high on comfort and charm but low on environmental damage. Sleep peacefully.

Madison, Wisconsin

At the spectacular Arbor House, innkeepers John and Cathy Imes promise “the art of hospitality within a model for urban ecology.” Their award-winning environmental inn combines a nineteenth-century historic tavern and stagecoach stop with a sustainably built annex that incorporates salvaged pine beams from Chicago’s Sears Building. And it doesn’t stop there. Organic breakfasts, Aveda products, skylit whirlpools, organic cotton towels, and wool/cotton mattresses are all part of the “inn-tentional package,” one that promotes pleasure preservationist-style. In fact, three of the eight rooms are named after prominent naturalists.

The John Muir room is woodsy yet tranquil, with a pine sleigh bed and a balcony facing the trees. (Binoculars are provided for bird watching.) The earthy John Nolen room features twig furniture and recycled glass floor tiles in rich honey-brown hues. Honeymooners and business travelers alike enjoy the inn’s wood-burning hearth, the outdoor flower gardens, and the warm light that proliferates in this Prairie-style home, now a national model for sustainable tourism.

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