Sustainability made simple

7 Eco-Friendly Resorts for Sustainable Travelers

eco friendly resort
Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Edvin Johansson

Planning your next vacation and looking for eco-friendly resorts near you? We’ve found 8 incredible locations across the country for you to enjoy.

You don’t need to travel great distances in order to enjoy fantastic places — in fact, it’s much better for the environment if you stick closer to home. There are incredible destinations across the country that are committed to kinder environmental practices. Depending on where you live, there are eco-friendly resorts within a reasonable drive – even better if you carpool with friends. 

What does it mean to be an eco-friendly resort? There are a wide variety of steps that can be taken to create this type of resort. What it boils down to is being mindful of the environment and intentional with operational practices. There is no perfect resort out there, but many are trying to integrate green practices into how they operate.

1. Bardessono Hotel & Spa

This eco-friendly resort can be found in Yountville, California, right in the heart of Napa Valley. Its location is prime for those visiting wine country, with shops, art displays, and incredible restaurants in walking distance. The resort itself uses geothermal heating and solar panels for energy and is LEED platinum certified. 

Some design features to highlight include locally-sourced salvaged and recycled wood for the flooring, furniture, and signage throughout the property. The bathrooms feature water-efficient toilets and organic toiletries. Bardessono Hotel & Spa‘s on-site restaurant uses products sourced from local organic farms and complements their dishes with herbs from their own certified organic kitchen herb garden.

2. Inn By the Sea

Switching over to the East Coast, Inn By the Sea is an eco-friendly resort located in Maine. One of the main features is their native gardens, which aim to support and protect endangered monarch butterflies among other native species. They also work with the neighboring Crescent Beach State Park to help restore the habitat of the New England Cottontail, which is another endangered species. 

On the inside of this resort, you’ll find green features like refillable toiletries, a solar-heated pool, and Sebago lake water offered in reusable bottles. The restaurant focuses on farm-to-table fresh and local foods, and they’ve partnered with the Gulf of Maine Institute to promote less popular sustainable seafood options. Inn By the Sea offers EV charging stations and is LEED silver certified.

3. Blockade Runner Beach Resort

Heading down to North Carolina, you’ll find this family-owned and operated eco-friendly resort. They’re focused on environmental protection and are even recognized by the Plastic Ocean Project as an Ocean Friendly Establishment. The North Carolina Green Travel Initiative has awarded this resort its highest honor, so you can rest assured this place is eco-friendly. 

The Blockade Runner Beach Resort features food and beverage recycling and composting systems along with innovative stormwater conservation efforts. They even have a Green Team of volunteers who work on projects like rebuilding oyster reefs and bagging oyster shells for reuse. 

4. Honey Creek Resort

Honey Creek Resort is a breath of fresh air. This eco-friendly resort is located smack dab in the Midwest in Moravia, Iowa. It’s actually one of the few hotels in Iowa to have LEED certification and has recently been recognized by Green Key Global. Iowa State University students designed the Activities building to be net zero. 

Geothermal heating and cooling are available throughout most of the resort, wind turbines provide electricity, and there are solar panels on 5 cabins. Natural daylight is harnessed in 75% of the lodge’s open spaces in order to reduce daytime use of electricity. They sourced their furnishings from companies committed to green strategies including reduced packaging, sustainable forestry practices, and recycled and salvaged materials. 

The focus of this resort is on nature education. They offer a variety of educational programs led by on-site interpretive staff and naturalists. They have 16,000 acres of preserved forests, prairies, and a peninsula that is right in their backyard. Another highlight is their Audubon-certified golf course. They use environmentally-friendly chemicals and fertilizers whenever possible, have electric carts in order to reduce energy consumption, a computerized water system and use rainwater harvesting to conserve water. The course design also incorporates native prairie grasses to help provide habitats to local wildlife. 

5. El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Space

Located in Taos, New Mexico, this eco-friendly resort comes in the form of an Earthship home, which is what Taos is best known for. For those who don’t know, an Earthship home is a type of eco-friendly housing that aims to be self-sufficient and uses recycled materials. 

El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Space incorporates recycled water, plants, fish, and rocks into a self-sustaining environment which also helps reclaim rain and wastewater. The on-site spa utilizes organic products and their onsite “biolariums” (greenhouses filled with vegetation and flowers) are also a space that guests can go to unwind and enjoy.

6. Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort is located on the North Shore of Oahu, and its commitment to the environment is pretty top-notch. They were the first Oahu resort to install a solar roof, and have consequently reduced their energy usage and reliance on fossil fuels over the last decade so much that it’s had the equivalent effect of planting 350 acres of forest. However, that’s not all this eco-friendly resort is doing. 

The resort landscaping focuses on native gardening and includes 70% native species, 30% of which are endangered. The green waste from garden foliage is turned into mulch or used in their compost, which gets mixed with horse manure from the on-site stables for planting. Water-efficient toilets, showers, and urinals can be found throughout the property. The golf courses use the resort’s wastewater, which is treated and recycled through their nearby wastewater treatment plant. 

The restaurant uses 80% organic products from local farmers to help promote stable and sustainable food production on the island. Any food waste is donated to organizations that help feed the hungry on the island or is used by local farms. The resort has partnered with Brigham Young University to turn used kitchen oil into biodiesel which is then used to fuel the school’s vehicle fleet. 

A few other things to note are that they switched their pool over to natural salt water instead of chemically-based chlorine, and staff have partnered with many environmental groups and participated in monthly beach clean-ups. 

7. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Touted as America’s only private island resort, this adults-only eco-friendly resort is located right off the Florida Keys. It was heavily affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and they rebuilt with intention. The goal was to restore the natural coastline of the island, so appropriate sea grasses were planted on the beach and underwater buoys were installed to protect the seagrass in the water. High efficiency HVAC systems were installed, and all resort lighting has been upgraded to LED products.

Little Palm Island Resort has partnered with Mote Marine to help restore the reef, and guests can interact with scientists and sponsor coral to be transplanted. It also donates to Conch Republic Marine Army, which helps restore the marine habitats of the Florida Keys. The spa uses all organic products, and all tiny toiletry bottles have been replaced by large, multi-use products from their signature line. On top of all that, plastic straws have been completely banned. 

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