For the eco-conscious traveler, staying in a hotel is often at odds with your values, with all that food waste, excess water use, and those frustrating mini plastic shampoo bottles. But nowadays you no longer have to compromise comfort and conservation, thanks to incredible initiatives from many hotels around the world to become zero waste. These hotels often have incredibly gorgeous, nature-inspired accommodations, are exceptionally relaxing places to stay, and they provide guests the piece of mind of knowing they have chosen extremely eco-friendly lodgings. Each has reached or is working towards zero-waste business practices. Zero-waste is an intimidating term, and can seem outright impossible for most people. But “zero” waste doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not producing any trash at all — this goal is actually achieved with only a 90 percent diversion rate, meaning that if you can divert 90 percent of what you consume from landfills, you can claim zero-waste status. A growing collection of hotels, both major brands and boutique, meet these standards. Here are seven that have made huge strides.
1. Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, San Diego, California
The Sheraton San Diego started their zero-waste journey back in 2011. Step one was a 600-person convention in the hotel’s convention center that produced no waste, and following the successful event, the facility never looked back. All food waste produced by the hotel is composted. The facility also implemented single stream recycling to make recycling easier for both staff and guests, as part of its larger plan to divert waste.
2. Zero-Waste-Hotel at Villas de Troncoso, Troncoso, Brazil
Relax in luxury on a Brazilian beach at the Zero-Waste-Hotel at Villas de Troncoso resort. The project, part of a sustainability project from Swiss non-profit future.camp, aims to bring the hospitality industry into a circular economy by making whole food, zero-waste and sustainable decor, lodging, and design part of each guest’s stay. Guests can choose to learn and participate in initiatives like educational classes and sustainable eating, or simply enjoy their stay knowing that their lodging is doing more good than bad. As a bonus, the property is as beautiful as the vision.
3. TreeCasa Resort, Nicaragua
Take the image that comes to mind when you think of a place called TreeCasa Resort. Then, do nothing to that image — the spot is exactly as you pictured it, a nearly out-of-this-world experience set around a pair of twin Celba tress in the El Encanto jungle of Nicaragua. The idea was to create a place that communed both with nature and the guest’s vision of wellbeing. The result is a stunning resort that looks like a scene from Avatar. Take part in farm-to-table meals, go horseback riding through the forest, and channel your inner artist, whether that be visual, musical, or spiritual. Oh, and stay up in the treehouse, of course.
4. Conca Park Hotel, Sorrento, Italy
The Conca Park Hotel is an excellent educator when it comes to zero waste for their guests, showing them small but mighty practices they can implement at home. For example, they use sugar bowls instead of packets for coffee and avoid all single-use plastic. They post signage throughout the property informing guests not only of the practices in place but of how they can continue their sustainability efforts throughout their travels.
5. The Listel Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia
The Listel Hotel launched its “Environment Matters” movement to ensure their property is as efficient and eco-friendly as possible. The hotel features 20 solar panels and a heat capture program which drastically reduces its dependence on natural gas to heat the property. The hotel’s rooms are designed around art pieces and gallery showings happen regularly in the hotel, making each room stay unique in its own way. The Listel’s Forage restaurant has built their menu entirely around sustainable practices, local food, and waste reduction. As the name suggests, foraged ingredients are a mainstay. In a bit of outside-the-box thinking, certain dishes feature bison instead of beef, as the animal has a much lower carbon footprint from birth to table.
6. The Island Hideout, Ko Yao District, Thailand
Everything about The Island Hideout is serene. From the eco-friendly building structures to the verdant hillside overlooking Phang Nga Bay, this island retreat is as relaxing as it gets. Renewable energy powers each of the lodges, they’ve surpassed 80 percent diversion rates on all waste produced, and the food is locally sourced.
7. Hotel Ribno, Bled, Slovenia
Bled, Slovenia may still be under-the-radar of many traveler’s bucket lists, but Hotel Ribno is out to change that. The hotel received zero-waste certification in May 2018 and is the first Slovenian hotel to achieve the mark. They eliminated disposable products in their hotel, eliminated 90 percent of their produced waste, and have begun sourcing food and products from local suppliers whenever possible, allowing guests to stay at ease at their resort surrounded by beautiful forest and the untracked mountains of Slovenia. They offer “active vacation” options including hiking, biking, and rafting on the nearby Lake Bled.
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