February 1, 2012
Eco-friendly features are almost commonplace in hotels these days. ANDREW BENDER looks at lodgings that take going green one step further.
ICE HOTEL, SWEDISH LAPLAND, SWEDEN
Talk about minimal carbon footprint! Built from scratch every winter, Icehotel (above) is made from some 4,000 tonnes of ice, which melts back into the river system each spring. Come winter, snow is sprayed over the steel frames which are removed when the snow turns to ice, with ice blocks added for the rest of the construction. Guests don parkas and sleep in ice rooms, but not before quaffing some vodka at the ice bar. The hotel is working on becoming carbon negative by 2015, when it will rely solely on renewable energy like wind, solar and hydropower.
MIYAKO HYBRID HOTEL, LOS ANGELES, USA
Los Angeles is the largest market for hybrid cars in the US, which is itself the world’s second largest hybrid car market. So it’s fitting that in this city that defines American car culture, Miyako Hybrid Hotel (above) – close to the US headquarters of carmakers like Toyota and Honda – caters to green drivers and eco-warriors. It boasts energy-saving water heaters, rooftop solar panels, a recycling programme, soaking tubs and toilets with low-flow plumbing. And did we mention that they have reserved lots for hybrid cars?
HOTEL GAVARNI, PARIS, FRANCE
In 2009, Hotel Gavarni became the first Parisian hotel to achieve European Ecolabel certification, thanks to its prudent use of resources, waste management and efforts to reduce the human impact on the air, water and food chain. Besides serving organic, fair-trade breakfasts, using low-flow plumbing and showers, and low-wattage lighting, the hotel is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy; even its trash bags are made from potato starch, rather than plastic.
HOSHINOYA KARUIZAWA, NAGANO, JAPAN
Set near a natural hot spring, this contemporary ryokan (Japanese-style inn; above) uses geothermal pumps (among the largest in Japan) for heating. The ryokan doesn’t use disposable paper, plastic or styrofoam cups, and sorts its trash into 33 categories of disposables. It even set up a non-profit conservation organisation that conducts nature tours and manages its own black bear conservation project in the area.
POSADA DE MIKE RAPU, EASTER ISLAND, CHILE
Minimising its impact on the environment is a given for Posada de Mike Rapu, housed on the ecologically fragile Easter Island. For starters, it left existing vegetation untouched during construction and built its buildings close to the ground to preserve the landscape. On top of high-efficiency lighting, the resort also uses the residual heat from generators to warm its water. No surprise it’s South America’s first hotel with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the standard green building rating system in the US.
PHOTOS COURTESY ICEHOTEL / HOSHINOYA KARUIZAWA / MIYAKO HYBRID HOTEL