Sustainable travel is picking up the pace in the U.S., with conscientious travelers not just staying in sustainable suites but also bringing eco-friendly habits with them from home. Last spring, TripAdvisor launched an eco-minded program called GreenLeaders to help travelers make informed choices about their accommodations. Now the travel website has released a list of what it calls "the greenest hotels that are also beloved by travelers."
The GreenLeaders program doesn't just help travelers plan their trips, it also inspires other hotels to jump on the bandwagon, and the program's minimum eco-friendly requirements have been adopted by the American Hospitality & Lodging Association. And it pays off — Jenny Rushmore, TripAdvisor's director of responsible travel, says properties with GreenLeaders status have seen a 20 percent higher rating on the site.
Among the sustainable features that are most important to travelers, according to TripAdvisor's survey of over 2,100 respondents: Towel and linen reuse programs, lighting that is energy-efficient, recycling bins in hotel rooms, water-efficient bathrooms, and one switch that turns off all the lights.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 greenest U.S. hotels:
1. Bardessono, Yountville, California
With two gardens for chefs to choose from and a subterranean geothermal system that replaces the usual HVAC, this hotel in California's wine country aims for luxury without losing sight of eco-friendliness.
2. Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, Oregon
Surrounded by the Willamette Valley, this resort blends right in with an insulating "living roof."
3. Hilton Garden Inn Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina
The self-sustaining grounds of this hotel are irrigated with collected rainwater, and its rooms are fitted with energy-efficient appliances and lighting.
4. Sleep Inn & Suites, Miles City, Montana
This hotel has neighboring Yellowstone River in mind with its motion-sensing lights and toiletry recycling program.
5. Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
This resort is connected to the outdoors in more than one way — it's built from indigenous materials and offers great outdoor activities for guests. Guests have also noted its eco-friendly practices: towel reuse, water conservation and energy-efficient lighting to name a few.
6. Cedar Glen Lodge, Lake Tahoe, California
This "relaxing, low impact retreat" on Lake Tahoe was renovated with reclaimed wood. It uses snow melt and rainwater, recirculating hot water through its low-flow plumbing.
7. ARIA Sky Suites, Las Vegas, Nevada
The essence of green luxury, this LEED-certified hotel will even pick guests up from the airport with "the world's first stretch-limo fleet powered by compressed natural gas."
8. The Lenox Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
In keeping with its green past, this hotel recycles 88 percent of its waste and even donates unused amenities to local charities. Another remarkable feature: This hotel keeps a rooftop colony of bees from which it harvests honey.
9. Hampton Inn & Suites Miami/Brickell-Downtown, Miami, Florida
Miami's first LEED-certified hotel, this skinny skyscraper has electric car-charging stations and collects rainwater for reuse. One reviewer noted that the breakfast plates and cutlery were made from potatoes!
10. Holiday Inn Express Inverness, Lecanto, Florida
With regulated electricity and hot water, this hotel "has sustainability down to a science." One reviewer noted that they even recycle soaps.
Though these are the highest-rated favorites of the bunch, TripAdvisor has more than 4,000 green hotels to search through, each of them doing something unique to lessen its impact on the environment.
"It's less important what destination you choose and actually more important how you travel," Rushmore says. "Green practices are increasingly becoming standard practice for hotels, and as more and more travelers come to expect hotels to adopt eco-friendly practices and as the information becomes more easily accessible through programs like TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, we expect green practices will become as commonplace as other hotel offerings such as free WiFi."
So next time you plan a trip, think about where you'll stay — and think twice about how you'll get there.
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