What is an Eco-Hotel?
Welcome to our exploration of eco-hotels, a new frontier in sustainable travel. In this post, we'll delve into what makes an accommodation truly 'eco-friendly,' beyond just the label. We aim to uncover the core principles that define an eco-hotel, offering insights for travelers seeking to align their journeys with environmental responsibility and ethical practices.
So, what's exactly an ‘eco-hotel’?
Traditionally, an eco-hotel is understood as an establishment deeply committed to reducing its environmental footprint. However, the industry's evolving standards now suggest that a genuine eco-hotel should extend its care beyond environmental concerns alone.
Sustainability is increasingly central to the concept of being an 'eco' or 'green' hotel". I would even contend that a true eco-hotel is synonymous with a sustainable hotel. Essentially, it's a hotel that adopts sustainability, from eco-conscious practices to programs that give back to the community.
We've created a simple list of key features to help you recognize and choose an eco-friendly hotel for your stay.
It's Eco-Friendly Hotel if It Has:
- Efficiency in Using Energy and Water. Eco-friendly hotels prioritize reducing energy and water usage, benefiting both the environment and operational costs while enhancing their appeal to guests.
- Locally Sourced Food and Products. These hotels lower their carbon footprint by sourcing food, products, and services locally, supporting the local economy, and reducing transportation costs. It makes dishes taste better and healthier.
- Reducing Plastic Usage. Efforts are made to minimize the use of single-use plastics, such as small toiletry items, straws, and cups, in a bid to foster a sustainable environment.
- Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies. Conscious of the environmental impact of chemical detergents, sustainable hotels opt for biodegradable and eco-friendly cleaning and personal hygiene products.
- Encouraging Guest Participation in Sustainability. Guests are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices, like turning off lights and AC when not in use, reusing towels (put the mark on the table if you need to change towers or not),, and engaging in recycling, to contribute to the hotel's environmental efforts.
- Promoting Sustainable Transportation. Eco-hotels are encouraged to offer sustainable transportation options. This can include providing electric or hybrid car rentals, electric bicycles, and scooters. They should also be ideally situated to allow easy access to public transportation.
- Using Green Materials. Eco-hotels showcase a strong commitment to sustainability in their very structure and amenities. They often utilize green building materials in their construction and design, including reclaimed wood, bamboo, or recycled steel, which are both environmentally friendly and sustainable. The commitment extends to the details within the rooms, where guests can find organic or eco-friendly bedding and towels made from materials like organic cotton or bamboo. Additionally, these hotels ensure that the rooms are furnished with non-toxic paints and natural fiber carpets and curtains, creating a safe and environmentally conscious living space for their guests.
- Having Sustainable Certifications. While obtaining certifications can be costly and more accessible for larger establishments, they are not mandatory for eco-hotels.
About Eco-Hotel Certification
Eco-hotels seeking certification have several reputable options. The Green Key program sets a leading standard in sustainability, demanding adherence to the stringent criteria of the Foundation for Environmental Education. The Green Globe certification is known for its comprehensive approach, involving 44 criteria across four categories, supported by over 385 compliance indicators. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) focuses on sustainable management and socio-economic, cultural, and environmental impacts, aligning with global sustainable tourism standards. LEED certification is specifically tailored for new hotels constructed with sustainable practices.
Additionally, platforms like TripAdvisor and Booking.com offer Travel Sustainable Programs. While these are not official certifications, they recognize accommodations as eco-friendly based on criteria verified by independent sustainability experts.
Why You Should Choose Eco-Hotel?
Choosing an eco-hotel brings several benefits beyond just reducing your carbon footprint. It reflects a commitment to supporting establishments that are making an effort to positively impact the environment and local communities.
Moreover, staying in a sustainable hotel can enhance your personal wellbeing and provide unique experiences unavailable in standard hotels. For instance, sustainable hotels often offer amenities like bicycles for exploring local areas, healthy breakfast options with locally-sourced produce, and rooms with indoor plants for fresher air. They might also provide fresh fruits from their gardens, reusable bottles filled with onsite spring water, and opportunities to contribute to local community projects.