Going for the Green
From a hilltop overlook, the cluster of pastel-colored cottages in southeastern Dominica looks much like other Caribbean island resorts. Tropical plants and flowers fill the grounds. A river babbles in the background. Down at the lobby bar, a couple sips papaya wine.
But the greenery at 3 Rivers Eco Lodge is grown and maintained without chemicals. A wind turbine, whirring atop a 100-foot-high gommier tree, supplies part of the hotel's electricity. And the wine? Made from organic papayas raised in the hotel's garden.
With lodgings the world over suddenly proclaiming themselves as eco-friendly, determining what makes an authentic green hotel can be difficult. Sure, many properties ask that guests reuse towels, but others have made more meaningful environmental changes. Sometimes they can be tough to find.
After consulting guidebooks, travel agents and independent organizations devoted to sustainable tourism, we visited two: the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and 3 Rivers Eco Lodge in Dominica. Both are award-winning eco-properties with the stated goal of controlling carbon dioxide pollution, and they encourage their guests to follow suit. One is deluxe, the other rustic, proof that any type of lodging can be green. And as it turns out, both are pretty cool places to stay. Gary Lee's report is on Page P6, along with tips to help you find other green hotels.
Also in this issue, Cindy Loose takes a look at the carbon-offset programs offered by travel providers these days and whether the money that travelers are being urged to donate is well-spent. To see how three popular booking sites measure up, see Page P7.
And that's just the beginning. Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our special report on July 15, when we visit three endangered destinations around the globe -- while they're still around.