September 8th, 2011
Photo by Radio Rover via Flickr
Lately I’ve been copyediting hotel descriptions for a travel booking site. From tiny motels off of interstate highways in landlocked states, to swanky beachfront resorts in coastal communities, one thing that lodgings love to “boast” about is a swimming pool—indoor, outdoor, heated, coupled with a hot tub, surrounded by a sundeck, accompanied by a water slide, flanked by a bar, offering views of the ocean, mountains or skyline. (I’ve even heard of a guitar-shaped one in Nashville. And of course, there are plenty of Texas-shaped pools in Texas.)
Another type of pool I’ve come across, usually in upscale settings like resorts and spas, is the salt water pool. Using salt water chlorination, this alternative to a conventional chlorinated swimming pool is deemed more environmentally friendly because a much smaller amount of harmful chemicals needs to be pumped in and out monthly or weekly. These saline pools (which are not, by the way, salty enough to taste like the ocean) may also be more pleasant and safer to swim in than standard chlorine pools, reducing risks of hair damage, skin and eye irritation, and respiratory problems.
But salt water pools still follow the philosophy of using chemicals to completely sanitize water for swimming. The Daily Green showcases a more natural way to go: sustainably designed pools that let nature do its job to control bacteria, algae and mosquitoes, rather than eradicating them with dangerous substances. Most of these “natural” pools use plants around the edges to act as a filtration system; as a bonus, these well-landscaped oases turn out to be much more aesthetically pleasing than your typical stark, bluish pool.
Let’s hope this sustainable trend catches on in the American hotel industry, and that smelly chlorine pools will go out of style along with those scratchy bedspreads.
June 14th, 2011
It looks like the plan this summer is to house/dog/cat sit for two different sets of friends—one out on Long Island, and the other in upstate New York. The more I think about these arrangements, the more they sound like ideal vacation opportunities. While helping our friends out a little bit, we’ll be able to get out of the city and explore both areas’ beaches, lakes, parks, and food options. Swimming, blueberry picking, farmers markets, bike rides, and breweries, here we come!
It occurs to me that we’ll also get access to lots of perks that most hotels and vacation rentals don’t provide. My own apartment doesn’t even offer most of these:
Maybe I am getting boring, or maybe I am just getting tired of living in NYC, but this all sounds pretty exciting to me.
The only downside? I’ll still be working.
December 21st, 2010
For adventurous travelers, crashing with strangers is one way to avoid the cost, waste, and impersonal nature of staying in hotels. CouchSurfing has gotten a lot of attention as a community of travelers who offer each other free places to stay.
Photo by jon_a_ross
There are more similar networks popping up, and I wanted to introduce you to a few.
Warmshowers.org is just like CouchSurfing, except it’s meant specifically for those traveling by bicycle. It could be a great way to get advice on the best bike routes, exchange cycling stories, and meet people with similar interests.
HelpX is for travelers who want to work in exchange for accommodations. Hosts include organic farmers, small business owners, hostel owners, and regular homeowners who could use a hand with anything from harvesting to babysitting, painting to greeting other guests. Talk about living like a local!
Airbnb lists accommodations offered in people’s homes, but they’re not free. Guests could stay in a humble guest room, a room in a bed and breakfast, an entire empty apartment or house, or a tree house in someone’s back yard.
I’m excited to choose my own adventure someday using one of these networks.
November 15th, 2010
Jessica Blair over at Green Globetrotter published a Guide to LEED Lodging that you can download for free. It lists 49 eco-friendly hotels around the United States. If you’re not familiar with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), see this intro on the U.S. Green Building Council site.
The list includes a mix of accommodations: chain hotels and boutique hotels, luxury resorts and rustic lodges. And I was happy to see that there are plenty that aren’t too expensive.
It’s already commonplace for hotels not to wash towels and sheets every day unless guests request the service. So what else are hotels doing to help their guests reduce their carbon footprints?
Here are some examples of what makes these hotels green:
- Pillows, carpets, and tiles made from recycled materials
- Linens made from organic fibers
- Low-flow shower heads and toilets
- Reduced use of harmful chemicals in adhesives, paints, and carpets
- Rooftop solar panels
- Use of natural lighting
- Composting systems for food scraps
- Locally sourced building materials
- Diverting construction waste from landfills
- Bicycles provided for guests
Wall art made from old books at the Bardessono in Napa Valley. Photo by Hugger Industries.
Click here to get the guide.