Top Ten Green Hotels in the United States, 2014
With the growing interest in adopting an environmentally friendly lifestyle, new businesses are popping up to meet the needs of those "going green." The sustainable tourism industry is one example, satisfying the high demand for eco-friendly hotels. GAYOT.com compiled this list of hotels committed to environmentalism. Many of these hotels boast LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) credentials, which is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built using environmentally sound strategies.
- Proximity Hotel
As the first LEED Platinum-certified lodging in the United States, Proximity Hotel has much to be proud of when it comes to saving the planet. Building materials and furniture were locally sourced, water is heated by solar rooftop panels and a regenerative drive elevator creates energy on descent, feeding it back into the electrical grid. If that isn't enough to make eco-friendly travelers happy, on-site Print Works Bistro serves up traditional and modern European cuisine using geothermal energy and showcases local ingredients. While this hotel strives to keep its carbon footprint light, it is also devoted to guest comfort. To that end, you will find stylish loft-style accommodations, original local artwork, a fitness studio, an outdoor swimming pool and a "guest living room" on each floor.
- The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites
Los Angeles, Calif.
The first hotel in Los Angeles to receive Green Seal Silver Certification isn't a flashy newcomer. A longstanding downtown favorite, the Bonaventure has formal systems in place for energy and water conservation, waste minimization, eco-friendly purchasing and environmental awareness. From composting to green housekeeping, this hotel sets the standard, all the while offering smart style and some of the best guest room views in the city. On the 34th floor, the revolving BonaVista Lounge provides a unique perspective on the urban landscape, while one level up, LA Prime serves a tantalizing menu of steakhouse fare.
- Inn by the Sea
Cape Elizabeth, Me
When it comes to nurturing the environment, this charming beach hotel is proof that great things come in small packages. With just 61 guest rooms, suites and cottages, this beachfront inn is all about preserving Planet Earth. The chef at the house restaurant, Sea Glass, works with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to provide the menu's sustainable seafood, while the walls at the LEED-certified spa have been constructed from recycled sheet rock. Cleaning products are Green Seal-approved, amenities come in recycled packaging, the pool is heated with solar panels and the inn itself is heated with biofuel. Certified by the National Wildlife Foundation, the inn's surrounding indigenous environment provides a natural habitat for local wildlife.
- Hotel Felix
The word "felix" means "happy" in Latin, and when it comes to making the environment happy, this hotel is aptly named. There's no way to miss its eco-friendly attitude, which greets guests immediately upon arrival, from a 7-foot-tall "doorman" made from recycled pipes to organic coffee and a paperless front desk in the lobby. This hotel was the first in Chicago to earn Silver LEED certification and relies heavily on recycled products, right down to the materials used for guest room carpets. It also incorporates sustainability into its pampering, with the use of natural Aveda products at Asha Spa. Throw in low-energy-use lighting, green cleaning supplies and structural preservation during development to avoid landfill, and it's easy to see how this hotel is a top choice for eco-travelers in the Windy City.
From its very start, the LEED Silver-certified h2hotel set itself apart from the eco crowds. Before building began on the site of a former gas station, the contaminated soil was removed and the property's creek bed restored. With just 36 guest rooms, the hotel touts itself as eco-chic, and that's a hard description to refute. This Sonoma Wine Country beauty puts its money where its mouth is with bamboo floors, organic staff uniforms, drought tolerant plants and a green roof that filters rainwater and serves as a natural cooling system. Lights, fans and air-conditioners feature occupant sensors, and solar panels heat the rooms and pool. We especially love on-site Spoonbar, which spotlights local purveyors, vino from sustainable producers and the use of wine kegs to reduce packaging.
- El Monte Sagrado
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa takes pride in utilizing alternative energy and committing to sustainable practices without forfeiting luxury. Surrounded by stunning mountain views, this eco-resort enjoys a symbiotic relationship with its natural environment. Solar panels and geothermal temperature regulation provide heat and cooling, but the most notable feature is The Living Machine system. This unique eco-structure is used to create a self-sustaining ecosystem and includes the collection, filtering and recirculation of fresh rainwater to irrigate the grounds. The result is a landscape lush with plants, many of which are used at the Living Spa. For those who want their travels to contribute to a healthier planet, this resort in New Mexico's dramatic high desert country is an ideal choice.
- Element New York Times Square West
New York City, N.Y.
In the budget hotel category, Starwood's Element brand stands out when it comes to aggressive eco-efforts. This chain works to incorporate as many sustainable, renewable or reused materials and products as possible. From environmentally-friendly "do not disturb" magnets to wall art mounted on bases made from recycled tires, this chain's signature ecologically-minded attributes are plenty, as this New York outpost proves. Right in Times Square, the hotel invites guests to think green while partaking in all the Big Apple has to offer. Carpets are crafted from recycled materials, low-flow faucets conserve water, paints are earth-friendly and the open-plan guest rooms feature kitchenettes with full-size Energy Star appliances. For indulgent extras, check out the complimentary evening reception, nourishing grab-and-go gourmet pantry items and rooftop terrace with gorgeous views of the city.
- Hyatt at Olive 8
The Hyatt at Olive 8 is the first LEED-certified hotel in the über eco-conscious city of Seattle. Standard practices include a water conservation program and building reuse and recycling efforts. Beneath the green roof that provides an urban habitat for birds, bees and butterflies, you can sleep in one of the stylish guest rooms or suites with a clean conscience. The house spa makes being responsible a pleasure, featuring "market fresh" experiences from ingredients grown in the region. After a good night's rest and an indulgent treatment, round out your stay with a meal at Urbane, whose farm-to-table menu also relies on produce and products from farmers and food purveyors around the Pacific Northwest.
- Berkshires Shirakaba
New Ashford, Mass.
Unlike many hotels that must change their wicked ways in order to become eco-friendly, Berkshires Shirakaba was built to Energy Star Certification standards. Created in the style of a Japanese guesthouse, it sits on 21 wilderness acres. There are just two guest suites, each with its own tatami room for dining, as well as a private pool, sauna and formal dining room, where guests can reserve a six-course Japanese dinner. As for loving the planet, this mini-resort features solar panels, a geothermal water furnace, efficient radiant floor heating, triple pane Thermotech windows and a comprehensive recycling program. Personalized water bottles can be refilled with well water, and even the linens do their part — made with a special microfiber, they don't need to be ironed.
- Hotel Terra Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
As the first in a collection of boutique eco-lodging launched by MetWest Terra Hospitality, the LEED-certified Hotel Terra Jackson Hole offsets 100 percent of its electric and natural gas usage by purchasing alternative clean energy. Computerized systems shut down power in rooms when they're not in use, native landscaping means there's no need for wasteful irrigation, and beds are completely organic. Featuring Chill Spa, Il Villaggio Osteria and accommodations so mountain lodge chic you'll never want to leave, this gorgeous Grand Teton getaway is an excellent example of creative responsibility — even its elevator tiles are made out of leather from tannery scraps and the bathroom countertops are crafted from reclaimed glass.