With breaks from school, warmer temperatures and an approved vacation form submitted at work, summer travel is calling your name.
More people than ever are not only seeking a vacation, but are also looking for ways to minimize their getaway's impact.
Finding environmentally friendly hotels, resorts and lodges is easier than you might think, with credible websites and travel agencies dedicated to this service. We've searched through recommended resorts and reviewed expert findings. Here's a rundown of a few of our favorites.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek, San Ignacio, Belize
Awarded Best Eco Resort by Caribbean Travel & Life in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, as well as Belize's first ever Green Globe Certified Silver Status by the Global Certification Programme, Chaa Creek is definitely the top scorer in a league of prestigious green resorts. National Geographic Adventure Magazine's Top 50 Eco Lodges in 2008 isn't a bad accolade to add to the wall either.
The lodge believes that "travel, when conducted mindfully can be a powerful tool for positive change, inspiring awareness of environmental responsibility and social commitment."
Chaa Creek goes above and beyond when it comes to living by their green message. All solid waste is separated and reused or recycled, organic kitchen waste and grass trimmings are composted, aluminum cans are crushed and used as fill material in concrete building foundations.
Glass that is not recycled is crushed on-site in an electric glass crusher and used as an aggregate when mixing cement. Fruits and vegetables for visitors and staff is grown on their Maya Organic Farm. The list goes on and on.
In addition to their daily practices, lodge founders Mick and Lucy Fleming established the Belize Foundation for Conservation (BFC), which is now based from Chaa Creek's on-site Natural History Center.
The lodge hosts various environmental education projects, including summer camps and teacher training programs, and partners with conservation projects ranging from agroforestry research to howler monkey reintroduction.
But if all this wasn't green enough for you, consider the Eco-Package designed for the most eco-minded of travelers out there.
Tenuta di Spannocchia, Siena, Italy
Making Travel + Leisure's List of "20 Favorite Green Hotels," IndependentTraveler.com's "Top 10 Ecolodges and Green Hotels" list in 2007 and Conde Nast Traveler's 2006 Green List put this hotel on the eco traveler's map.
The 1,100-acre organic estate in Tuscany's Riserva Naturale Alto Merse features acres of organic vegetable gardens, managed forests and hiking trails. And an on-site center for education and enrichment focuses on the ecological and cultural history of the area.
The Spannocchia Foundation, aims to become an "internationally recognized example for sustainable development in rural areas and an education center for students, scholars, researchers, artists and others committed to preserving cultural history and the environment for future generations."
Summer in Tuscany in the high season and can be quite warm, but you can find very reasonable rates and expect rich green hillsides.
Trout Point Lodge, Nova Scotia
Trout Point Lodge is one out of only three of the nearly 5,000 listed hotels to be awarded all seven "green trees" by Best Green Hotels.
Dubbed an "Eco-wilderness Resort," the Canadian lodge does everything from on-site vegetable, fruit and cheese production to on-site waste treatment.
And with summer temperatures only reach highs in the mid 60s, it is a welcome escape from the simmering summer temperatures to the south.
Canada's ECOmmodation program, which awarded the hotel a 5 Green Key rating, described Trout Point as "a hotel that exemplifies the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility throughout all areas of operations.
The hotel employs cutting edge technologies, policies and programs that set the international standard for sustainable hotel operations."
Closer to Home
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, Leavenworth, Wash.
Sleeping Lady rests on the site of the old Civilian Conservation Corps, which was known as Camp Icicle from the 1930s and 1940s. The site was purchased in 1991, with all 18 buildings saved and remodeled to meet or exceed building and energy codes. The resort is currently pursuing its LEED Certification for Existing Buildings through the U.S. Green Building Council.
The resort features 28,000 linear feet of decking made from recycled plastic bags and wood scraps, a geo-exchange system supplying heating and cooling, reclaimed wood sourced on site used in construction, organic garden to provide kitchen ingredients, building insulation made of group computer paper and cardboard boxes, electric vehicles and more.
Summer temperatures do reach the high 70s to high 80s, but we think this mountain destination and its nearby river will be a welcome escape from the city. Oh, and Fido can come too!
Hotel Terra, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole is a LEED certified property offering a unique combination of wilderness and luxury.
The hotel features an incredible list of eco-friendly elements, including 100 percent recycled roof shingles made from vinyl and cellulose fiber, use of energy recovery technology to recoup 81 percent of the heat from exiting "stale" air, use of fly ash in cement production, chairs made of recycled seatbelts, mattresses made from recycled steel springs and natural latex and soap dishes made of recycled skyscraper glass.
Jackson Hole features summer temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s and blooms with flowers and grasses that time of year. Both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are open to the public May through October, making summer the ideal time for a visit. The hotel also features miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails ideal for use in the summer months.
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, Calif.
Awarded six "green trees" (out of seven possible) by Best Green Hotels, one of the most comprehensive listings of environmentally friendly hotels online, the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif. will provide the discerning traveler with a luxurious, albeit expensive, experience with as little impact as possible.
The Inn was awarded "Top Ten 'Greenest' Accommodations in the World" by TripAdvisor in 2007 and 2008 for its environmental efforts. Post Ranch uses solar energy and live data on solar system performance, weather and environmental savings via the "Solar Monitor." It also hosts the first commercial gray water system approved in Monterey County.
But that's just the beginning of a long list of the Inn's green initiatives practiced on a daily basis.
Summer temperatures hover around the high 60s to low 70s, providing a mild climate for those looking to escape the heat and humidity blanketing much of the country.
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