Green Hotels

Grounds at the Eco-Friendly Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort -- Costa Rica

Grounds at the eco-friendly Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort in Costa Rica.

Happy Earth Day! Today more than ever calls for some tree-hugging and eco-friendly practices, so we’ve picked ten of our favorite green hotels around the globe where you can celebrate by being kind to Mother Nature. From solar panels to vertical gardens, these unique spaces make it a point to be respectful of the environment. Need official proof? Most of them are LEED-certified. But if you don’t have a chance to get away to celebrate, pretend by clicking through our slideshow — just remember to power down afterwards and enjoy the great outdoors for a change!

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The heated pool at the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize is just on surprisingly luxe green amenity

We don’t mind sacrificing a little comfort during our travels if that means reducing our carbon footprint. But then again, not all eco-conscious hotels call for lights out and cold showers. The 10 hotels that make our list of those with the best eco-friendly perks aren’t all LEED-certified, but they still know that going green makes guests and Mother Earth happy. So here’s our salute to some great stays that are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and conserve with these awesome green amenities.

 

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Let’s face it: Traveling can bring out the inner germaphobe in even the most adventurous of us, and for good reason. There are lots of health risks encountered in your hotel room that you won’t necessarily find at home, from mold to industrial cleaning product residue. Didn’t even cross your mind ’til now? Well, fear not — more and more hotels are offering solutions, so your next hotel stay can be cleaner and safer than ever before. Read on to find out what to be wary of — and what you can do about it.

The Orchard Hotel in San Francisco uses chemical-free cleaning products.

The Orchard Hotel in San Francisco uses chemical-free cleaning products.

The Risk: Chemical Cleaning Products

The chemicals in cleaning products used in many hotel rooms can make you sick — and routine exposure (road warriors, take note) can be life-threatening. Exposure to the carcinogens in cleaning products can increase cancer risk, while endocrine disruptors found in many pesticides, detergents, and disinfectants can confuse body hormones and cause fertility problems or even miscarriages.

The Solution: Chemical-Free Cleaning Products

Eco-friendly hotel initiatives are growing increasingly popular, and these days many hotels are being recognized for their efforts by organizations such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). So don’t be afraid to ask hotel staff about the cleaning products they use, or check out our research here. One of our favorite LEED-certified hotels is The Orchard Hotel, which was at the forefront of this movement. Among the very first LEED-certified hotels in San Francisco, the Orchard uses chemical-free cleaning products — among many other impressive green practices.

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“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”  Yesterday, our favorite astrological free spirits started celebrating their 2013 birthdays, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Possessing a deep social conscience, Aquarians are humanitarian, philanthropic, and dedicated to making the world a better place. And they do so with flair. Known for their wildly inventive and creative ideas, Aquarians can also be temperamental and flighty if you don’t encourage their quirk. Luckily, Oyster has stayed at some of the best off-beat, hippie-chic retreats for fostering the unpredictable and artistic notions of the Water Bearers in your life. So get your sketchpads ready, it’s time to take these rebellious visionaries on a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs

Korakia Pensione brings a bit of the Mediterranean to Palm Springs.

Korakia Pensione is a striking hotel in Palm Springs. Modeled after a Mediterranean pensione, it looks like something out of Greece or Morocco, and Aquarians are sure to relish in its exotic, eclectic vibe. Aquarians are also notorious flirts (what with all of that passionate, creative energy roiling around inside them), so they’ll definitely appreciate that Korakia was named one of Forbes’ sexiest hotels in America. The two Korakia Pensione pools and many outdoor spaces – including fire pits, fountains, and stone paths — are all beautiful and unexpected. And the hotel plays old movies every night outside on the terrace. The rooms are named, not numbered, and each is slightly different, but all have an old-world, whimsical feel.
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In our Oyster Stats series, we’re sharing surprising tidbits on a range of topics using data we’ve accumulated from our hotel coverage and site traffic. Our goal is not to provide scientific data but to provide interesting directional insights about travel trends.

New Yorkers have a rep for not being the friendliest people around. After all, in a destination teeming with tourists, locals often turn up their noses at outsiders, and just a grunt in your general direction is considered a kind greeting. But as New Yorkers ourselves, we wanted legitimate proof that this stereotype is true — and alas, it is. In fact, our research (not surprisingly) found that New Yorkers are not only considerably less friendly and romantically-inclined — especially when compared to their laid-back, West Coast counterparts in California — but also show much less love for the Earth than Californians. So here’s the cold, hard truth — and proof!

Finding: New Yorkers don’t love the Earth

California has always been a leader in creating eco-friendly legislation and practicing green initiatives. But New York as a state has actually shown more love for the Earth than we’d expect. It has a surprisingly low carbon footprint, and though New York City’s air quality is pretty atrocious, commuters relying on public transportation save the Earth a lot of heartache. Nonetheless, New Yorkers seem to care a whole lot less about the Earth than Californians, according to our research. While Californians spent an average of 88.2 seconds per visit on our eco-friendly pages — such as a list of LEED-certified hotels and our slideshow of eco-friendly spots in Jamaica — New Yorkers spent a mere 11.46 seconds per visit. Go green, New York!

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Legalization supporters in the U.S. have been abuzz (excuse the pun) in recent weeks, ever since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. So it’s safe to say that heading west is a good call these days if you’re planning on toking up. But heading east to our friends in Europe isn’t such a bad idea, either. For example, despite the recent tourist drug ban in the Netherlands, tourists and locals alike can continue to openly smoke in Amsterdam’s cafes. And numerous neighboring countries where weed is decriminalized have loose policies when it comes to the drug’s recreational use. So we’ve come up with a list — here are some of the best spots to smoke weed in Europe.

 

View from The Dylan Amsterdam

 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Though recent steps within government policies have made it seem like the Netherlands will become less tolerant towards marijuana use, Amsterdam’s mayor has promised that the city’s over 200 coffee shops will continue to serve locals and tourists. After all, many of the city’s 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam solely because of its lenient policies. Marijuana use is officially decriminalized in the Netherlands, and laws banning its use are rarely enforced.

Where to Stay: The Dylan Amsterdam

The Dylan is a stylish, upscale boutique centrally located in the Canal Ring. The 41 rooms are split into six different styles, ranging from lofts with cathedral ceilings to all-white rooms to Asian-inspired spaces. All rooms have high-end amenities including Bose sound systems, stocked minibars, and Zenology toiletries. A cozy lounge, two bars, a brasserie, and a lovely courtyard with heat lamps are all draws, but the real highlight here is the Michelin-star Vinkeles restaurant, which serves contemporary French cuisine in an exclusive space with just a handful of tables. Talk about a swanky spot to cure the munchies!

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The election is only days away, but before you cast your ballot for Romney or Obama, we have an entirely different presidential face-off that requires your vote: Two of the world’s finest Presidential Suites are going head to head for your vacation dollars. These qualified candidates bring a different set of skills to the table, run on entirely different foundations, and boast excellent Junior Suite running mates for the job. And unlike the other election, nobody loses with one of these choices. To help you decide, we’ve asked each suite to give a final statement in its own words. (Yes, walls can talk.)

J.W. Marriott Essex House, New York City 

The Essex House Presidential Suite is conservatively luxurious

“My fellow Americans, I speak to today from this beautiful Central Park location in the great city of New York to tell you why I at the  J.W. Marriott Essex House should be voted the best Presidential Suite in the United States. Read More »

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For a lot of employees, corporate retreats are dreaded events. And for good reason: At a bad corporate retreat, you might end up singing Kumbaya in the woods with your boss or falling backwards into the arms of a coworker to “build trust.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. At Oyster.com, we’ve covered some resorts that provide truly awesome settings for company getaways. The daily schedule may still be in your boss’s hands, but at least the resorts will make the probability of being able to squeeze in some fun much higher.

Best Corporate Retreats for…

An AIG-Style Luxury Bash

The Hotel: St. Regis Monarch Beach, Orange County

St. Regis Monarch Beach

St. Regis Monarch Beach, where AIG spent over $7,000 on golf fees alone for their executive retreat in 2008.

If you’re in the mood to party like it’s 2008, look no further than the St. Regis Monarch Beach. This is the high-end hotel where AIG reportedly spent over $400,000 on an executive retreat — less than a week after the government’s $85 billion bailout of the company. (The bill included over $23,000 in spa treatments; we guess the executives had a lot of de-stressing to do after their company nearly went down the toilet.) But hey, the times are a changin’ and 2012 has seen the return of luxury corporate retreats. So go on, celebrate the fact that your company is no longer facing imminent disaster (we hope). With a gorgeous 18-hole, ocean-view golf course, eight tennis courts, a renowned spa, an excellent business center with videoconferencing technology, and a high-tech boardroom, it’s the ideal setting for a decadent company getaway.

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The organic garden at Belize's Turtle Inn is just one of the resort's many eco-practices.

Belize is best known for its lush rain forests, Mayan ruins, and gorgeous barrier reef — one of the world’s best sites for snorkeling and scuba diving. As so much of the country’s tourism is dependent on its breathtaking natural surroundings, a determined commitment to eco-friendly practices can be found in most hoteliers throughout the country, and Oyster has stayed in everything from compact eco-lodges to rustic-luxe hideaways during our visits to this small Central American country. Check out photos of our favorite eco-friendly stays — and find out what exactly makes them green — in this slideshow:

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Sunset Viewpoint at the Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite

Sunset Viewpoint at the Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite

Evergreen Lodge is a 22-acre cabin resort surrounded by Stanislaus National Forest, about one mile from Yosemite National Park’s western border. The 90 cabins come in different sizes — some perfect for newlyweds, others great for a large family — and are rustic, cozy, and comfortable with large private decks. Techies beware: There are no phones or TVs in the cabins. It’s a great spot for nature lovers, though, who want to be disconnected from the world for a bit and enjoy the serenity of the surrounding pine trees instead. Guests looking for something active to do will find it too — there’s some equipment for rent on-site, such as mountain bikes and snowshoes, plus fly fishing, bocce ball, rafting, horseback riding, an outdoor pool, and two recreational halls filled with games, books, and arts & crafts materials. Check out more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

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