These days, sustainability is more than just a travel industry buzzword or a term travelers drop to sound hip. In fact, astute frequent travelers have come to expect a certain level of sustainability that goes beyond just reusing their bath towel or turning the lights out when not in use. With that in mind, the following seven hotel chains have embraced sustainability and implemented practices that recognize the three pillars of sustainable tourism—economic, social, and environmental—as defined by the United Nations.
All Kimpton hotels partner with Clean the World, which collects and recycles soap discarded by guests and distributes it to impoverished communities worldwide, improving global health and reducing the spread of disease. In addition, Kimpton’s eatery and bar Square 1682 in Philadelphia is Gold LEED certified, while Kimpton Hotel Wilshire, Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, and Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia are Silver and Gold LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
2. Ace Hotel
Portland-based Ace Hotel serves a trendy, urban market with recycled furniture and an artsy air. Ace uses salvaged wood from old houses for building materials, and a majority of the furniture in its hotels is found. For example, headboards used for its beds at one hotel are covered in vintage loden canvas made from recycled Army ponchos, while mattresses are 100 percent organic. And Ace’s food waste recycling system, created by a company called Ecovim, processes the hotels’ food scraps into mulch. In fact, Palm Springs-based Ace Hotel & Swim Club transforms 22 tons of food waste each year into fertilizer used at nearby farms.
Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a collection of boutique hotels across the United States, offers a unique green meeting program that incorporates eco-friendly practices throughout every aspect of meetings and events from sustainably produced meals to recycled memory sticks to team-building eco-excursions that integrate green initiatives such as tours of wineries that use local organic and biodynamic wines or educational practices such as how to shop green. Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Carlton in San Francisco has also installed solar panels that produce an estimated 15 percent of its energy use.
Buzzy 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in the borough’s Dumbo district is the third for the environmentally conscious 1 Hotels brand, brainchild of Starwood founder Barry Sternlicht. The so-called urban basecamp with sweeping views of lower Manhattan has a rainwater tank underneath the hotel that irrigates Brooklyn Bridge Park. Interiors were designed using local materials such as walnut from Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The restaurant offers farm-to-table foods from nearby purveyors and the opportunity to dine al fresco in the park. Three sister properties are in the works in China, Cabo, and Sunnyvale, California.
5. Six Senses
The resorts in the Southeast Asia-based Six Senses group are located in places of pristine beauty, close to nature and wildlife. The resort chain says that its properties often have biodiversity opportunities to preserve, protect, and rebuild environments that range from coral reefs to jungles. Six Senses proclaims an “unswerving commitment to protect endangered species on land and in water” and, along those lines, safeguards the seascapes at 11 of its 14 hotels with a chlorine-free pool sanitation system that aims to protect coral and marine life.
6. NYLO Hotels
The boutique, loft-style NYLO Hotels use sustainable initiatives such as wind power, recycled building materials, and energy-efficient lightbulbs in its properties throughout the United States. In 2012, NYLO Dallas South Side became one of 69 hotels in the country at the time to achieve Gold LEED certification, while approximately half of the energy use at 176-room NYLO Plano at Legacy comes from wind power.
7. Banyan Tree
Banyan Tree Resorts, which oversees more than 40 resorts worldwide, has instituted the Green Imperative Fund, which crowdsources contributions from guests during their stay with every dollar matched by Banyan Tree. Since the fund’s inception in 2001, the Green Imperative Fund has raised more than $7 million, disbursing over $4.1 million in support of worthy social and environmental causes. What’s more, all Banyan Tree hotels and resorts across the globe commit to planting two trees per room per night for the World Environment Day Celebration, which takes place during the first week of June.