Archive for the ‘Eco Travel’ Category
Even though I live in the big city, I’m definitely a country girl at heart. Maybe it was growing up on an old farm in Minnesota, the house always full of dogs, cats, kittens and birds, or just the peaceful feeling you have being in the middle of nowhere. Whatever the reason, when I saw the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana, I knew they were on to something special. Located in the mountain of Western Montana, this full service ranch is just as green as it is country. The existing buildings provided much of the inspiration because the owners were able to keep a lot of those furnishings and light fixtures to incorporate into the new design. In fact more than half of the woodwork like beams, floors, walls and cabinetry came from the existing property. All of the rooms in the main lodge plus the freestanding cabins and log rooms are decorated differently. I couldn’t decide on just a few to show, so I’ve included a large smattering of some of my favorites. Enjoy!
The living room at Bear House, a separate log cabin on the property.
Bedroom at the Bluebird Cabin. Not to be biased or anything, but I think this might be my favorite.
The Loft bathroom. How cool is this bathroom complete with barn doors and a freestanding tub next to the window?
Riverhouse living room
Moose House, one of the log cabins. Amazing view, huh?
In addition to the main Granite Lodge, the Ranch at Rock Creek also has a few luxury canvas cabins. You feel a little closer to nature, but have all the comforts of home including chic dude ranch decor and a full bathroom. This one would be my choice if I was staying at the Ranch at Rock Creek.
The living area in one of the canvas cabins. I love that wood burning stove!
And for your dining pleasure, the Dining Room at the main Granite Lodge
Not be outdone, the Ranch at Rock Creek also features a full service spa with a roof made of sod & planted with wildflowers. I’m loving how they even decked out the pedicure stations to match the decor.
Photos from the Ranch at Rock Creek
High up on my list of places to visit is Jordan, mostly for the chance to visit Wonder of the World, Petra. It’s not just because we share a fabulous name (if I do say so myself), but because of the stunning scenery and ancient buildings carved into sandstone. If you’ve never seen pictures of Petra, I urge you to take a look at these from photographer Mansour Mouasher. Or do a quick Google image search and you’ll see what I mean. A few hours drive from this lost city, is the Evason Ma’in Hot Springs and Six Senses Spa. Just like all Six Senses, this hotel has a deep commitment to the environment and local culture. Plus the hot springs and nearby Dead Sea make for a relaxing whole body getaway. Enjoy!
How stunning is this location? This green resort is nestled in the hills of Jordan.
The Six Senses Pool
The Pool Bar. Um, if this bar was next to the pool, I might not actually make it outside. Okay, okay just kidding, but how nice is this bar?
Brown Bar Terrace
Jordan Springs Restaurant
Zarb in the Olive. Such a romantic spot!
One of the Evason Ma’in guestrooms
The terrace of the Honeymoon Suite
Photos from Evason Ma’in Hot Springs, Jordan
Even though I’ve officially left San Francisco, I couldn’t resist one more post about this wonderful city. Even though we stayed with friends while in town, I managed to check out a few hotels to satisfy my design itch. And this one is just about as eco-friendly as they come. The Good Hotel is labelled as the first hotel with a conscience because of their “do good” attitude (yup, pun intended!). They encourage visitors to not only make sustainable choices, but to have fun while doing so. And the decor reflects just that – bright pops of color, modern art, unique decor, bikes for loan and reclaimed materials make it easy to be good and have a good time.
Brightly colored clocks at Reception so you always know what time it is. I wonder if that poor guy at reception jumps out of his skin every hour when those clocks chime. I know I would!
Curved sofas in the Lobby encourage conversation
How fun is this computer area in the Lobby? Why be serious just because you’re doing work?
Did I mention the Good Hotel is fun? Check out that photo booth (right next to renewable resource cork, of course!)
All guestroom bed frames are made of 100% reclaimed wood with bedding made from 75% recycled soda bottles. Now that some green sleep!
Another view of the Good Hotel’s green design in their guestrooms.
Another guestroom view
Although the hotel has been open for a few years now, their restaurant, the Sidebar Wine Tavern opened just a few weeks ago. Just like the Good Hotel, this restaurant features modern green design but with the addition of locally grown and organic food. My favorite are those lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the warm, textured wood. I only wish I would have known it was open when we were in San Francisco!
Photos from the Good Hotel
As I type, we’re flying at 30,000 on our way back from the most amazing weekend in San Francisco (I know, I know, not the most eco-friendly method of travel, but at least we can offset our carbon footprint on Virgin America). Beyond having a wonderful time with friends and seeing the sights, what really impressed me about SF, was the absolute seamless integration of sustainability into everyday life. Bike riders are everywhere, recycling & compost bins are the norm, city buses are zero-emission and even coffee stir sticks are hard to find, in favor of metal spoons to be washed & reused. On top of that, I really appreciated the emphasis of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle with tons of outdoor activity options, lots of parks and open green spaces, and the easy availability of organic & locally grown food. For me, it was inspiring and refreshing to see that big city living, an active & well-rounded life and sustainable practices can all go hand in hand. So with that, I wish you all a fantastic Fourth of July and enjoy a few pics from our weekend in San Francisco. (Starting with a pic of a wonderful beach next to the Golden Gate Bridge).
Vineyards in Sonoma
Okay, so perhaps I should have held onto this hotel to show you during the snowy winter months since Vigilius Mountain Resort is a fantastic ski destination. But as the ever excited blogger that I am, well, I just couldn’t wait. Located in the South Tyrol mountains of Italy, Vigilius is part spa, part peaceful getaway, part luxury resort and all green. Designed by Italian architect, Matteo Thun, the hotel is so full of eco features that it earned 5 green stars from Eco Hotels of the World. To name just a few of these features, the resort is a hermetically tight building to maintain the most energy efficiency possible. In the summer months, sun shading helps keep the rooms cool and in the winter months, the rooms are heated with radiant floor systems. Low-flow plumbing fixtures and towel changes upon request help conserve water. Plus the area around the hotel is car free with the only way of reaching the hotel through cable car. Now that’s how to be eco-friendly!
But on top of all of these eco-creds, Vigilius Mountain Resort is also a stunning destination. Clean mountain air, amazing views, absolute tranquility and a hotel full of beautiful natural materials means that you may never leave. And once you take a look at these pictures, you’ll realize why I just couldn’t save it till the winter. Enjoy!
Vigilius Mountain Resort at night. Notice the ‘sun shading’ devices at the exterior of the property to help it stay cooler in the summer.
Another view of the lobby at sunset
I love the eco-friendly swimming pool filled with natural spring water.
One of the guestrooms. Isn’t that wood color just gorgeous? The color and texture feel very pure and clean, perfect for a getaway hotel.
The bathroom. All of the guestrooms have a radiant flooring system that draws heat from an exterior clay wall.
Seating area in the Suite. The chair is a wonderful nod to traditional wood carving of the Tyrol Basin.
Suite bathroom. I love the contrast of the ultra modern orange glass against the natural textured wood.
I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Australia. It was three years ago this month that my husband (then boyfriend) proposed to me on a beach in the northeastern part of the continent. (I know, aww…) We spent two lovely weeks seeing as much of the country as possible, although given the size of Australia, admittedly that wasn’t much. We both fell in love with the country and the people, even talking about the likelihood of us moving there. As you can probably guess, a move around the world didn’t quite happen, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to go back and see more of that lovely country. So until our next trip happens, I have the gorgeous Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island just off the coast of Adelaide to satisfy my Australian longing.
Not only is the Southern Ocean Lodge a beautiful hotel in a stunning location, its sustainable practices and integration into the natural environment are inspiring. Founded by James and Hayley Baillie, the lodge consists of 21 luxury suites situated to take the best advantage of the weather and the amazing view. Like many other eco-friendly hotels, the Southern Ocean Lodge uses solar panels, low-flow plumbing fixtures and the collection of water run-off to save as much of their natural resources as possible. But they go one step further with the initial planning and building of the hotel. Baillie Lodges purchased 254 acres of land but only used 1% of that area to build the hotel. The remaining 99% were put in a Heritage Agreement to protect them for future generations. And the one percent that the Southern Ocean Lodge did build on was specifically chosen because it had the least amount of native vegetation. Now that’s smart planning!
If that were the end of the story about the Southern Ocean Lodge, I would be happy. But the design of the hotel is also beautiful with a very serene color palette, natural textures and understated look. It’s the perfect backdrop to a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation. Enjoy!
The Great Room. The fireplace in the center of the room is an EcoSmart fireplace that uses ethanol for an eco-friendly fire.
Outdoor dining at the restaurant
The boardwalks throughout the property are not only a beautiful walk, they also protect the natural landscape from guest use.
Osprey Pavillion terrace. This is the suite I want when I come to visit someday!
The Flinders Suite. I’m loving the cozy curved sofas.
Ocean Retreat Suite. Check out the fireplace in this room too. All of the rooms feature the same ethanol based EcoSmart fireplace.
Photos from Southern Ocean Lodge
I design luxury hotel properties as my day job so I look at a lot of properties just as a part of my research. When I see hoteliers committed to not only creating a hi-end boutique experience for their guests, but an eco-friendly one as well, I take notice. The Hotel Felix in Chicago is just such a property. It’s the first LEED Silver certified hotel in the Windy City with recycled & organic materials, energy efficient plumbing & lighting and recycling programs to name just a few initiatives. They also have an upcoming Green Roof which I can’t wait to see. The design of the hotel is a beautiful blend of modern, artful touches and understated elegance. Enjoy!
The Hotel Felix was re-developed in this historic building in Chicago.
The hotel restaurant
Photos from Hotel Felix
I know I’ve already done an Eco Travel this week, but I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the brand new Element Hotel near Times Square and had to share it with you. And let me tell you, it is so impressive to see a major hotel brand like Starwood not just embrace sustainability in their properties but design an entire chain of hotels around it.
Opened in November of 2010, the brand new Element New York Times Square West by Westin boasts an impressive eco score. As with all Elements, this hotel will be pursuing LEED certification from the USGBC. Energy efficiency is the norm with a smart lighting system at each guestroom, Energy Star rated appliances (yup, and a full kitchen too!) and CFLs throughout. Of course all interior finishes and fabrics are green too – carpet and fabrics made from recycled products, low-VOC paints and one of a kind art made from recycled tires. Perhaps one of my favorite parts is the simplest too. Understanding that paper Do-Not-Disturb signs actually create a lot of waste, Element has a magnetic panel on the outside of the door with custom magnets so you can announce when you want to be left alone. Sometimes it’s the little things in life.
But how is all this sustainability going to help you when you’re hungry at 2am? Element gets that the environment you live in is just as important as the food you eat. From the good for you “Rise” breakfast to the fully stocked “Restore” gourmet pantry in the lobby, and from the full kitchen complete with pots & pans, to the traditional room service option, there are tons of healthy food choices for the busy traveler. No greasy New York pizza for you!
From outside in, this hotel has sleek lines and a modern feel.
Here’s on of the tons of spots to hang out, relax or meet friends in the lobby.
Another spot to hang out downstairs. I’m loving the library feel of this area.
Every suburban Element hotel has a wonderful outdoor area, but what to do in the city? Build an awesome greenhouse, that’s what!
Here’s a shot of one of the guestrooms. What I love about Starwood is that they really understand their guests, from a well appointed desk, comfy seating ipod docks and big closet, it’s all there.
Here’s that full kitchen I was talking about. Even the finishes on it are eco-friendly!
The Rise breakfast each morning in the lobby
And what New York property is complete without a roof deck. I can tell you at night the view is stunning.
Raise your hand if you’ve had enough of winter. You can’t see me right now, but my hand is stretched as far up as it can get. Unfortunately I’m not heading off on a tropical vacation anytime soon, so I figured a little warm weather inspiration was just the thing for the almost end of winter blues. Let me introduce you to a gorgeous little resort in southern Vietnam called the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, so named for the little bay it sits on.
As with all Six Senses properties, this resort is equal parts stunning and sustainable. Traditional Vietnamese architecture blends into the natural rocky landscape with 58 villas of varying sizes, from the Hill Top Villas all the way up to the massive Presidential Villa. Using local and renewable resources is standard for this hotel group so you’ll see a lot of natural wood, stone and other materials throughout. Their eco-consciousness touches on all aspects of energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, fair-trade and local community building. Oh yeah, and did I mention this resort is stunning?
Yeah, so I wouldn’t mind eating my breakfast here. Just saying.
I’m not really a bath person, but if I had a bathroom like this, I could totally be convinced!
Photos from Six Senses
Since the weather in New York has been snowing then raining and, well, back to snowing and raining again, I wouldn’t mind getting away from the grayness. I mean, if it’s going to snow, why not take advantage of the weather and go skiing? The Alta Terra hotel and ski lodge in the volcanic Auvergne region of central France would be the perfect place to get away to. The B&B was recently renovated using local woods, lots of beautiful antique furniture and other eco-friendly materials. With only four guestrooms and small spa (including a hammam, sauna & hot tub), this intimate hotel is totally set up for relaxing after a long day of hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter. And at night you can hang out at the hotel restaurant for delicious locally grown organic food. I can’t imagine a more perfect ski vacation. Enjoy!
Photos from Alta Terra