Eco hotel is a hotel or accommodation that has made important environmental improvements to its structure in order to minimize its impact on the environment. The basic definition of a hotel is an environmentally responsible lodging that follows the practices of green living. These hotels have to be certified green by an independent third-party. Traditionally, these hotels were mostly presented as Eco Lodges because of their location, often in jungles, and their design inspired by the use of traditional building methods applied by skilled local craftsmen in areas, such as Costa Rica.
An eco hotel must usually meet the following criteria:
Dependence on the natural environment
Proven contribution to conservation
Provision of environmental training programs
Incorporation of cultural considerations
Provision of an economic return to the local community
Ecology is a very strong trend, either convictions or a fashion, caring for the earth has become an ideal of many. As a result, eco-hotels have become an increasingly popular alternative in the tourism industry, the increase in demand has led therefore to a large range of hotels with planet friendly options for all requirements.
According to the Royal Spanish Academy, one of the interpretations of the term ecology includes “defense and protection of nature and environment”. From what we understand, to be green is to defend and protect everything natural around us. Contact with nature is something almost inherent to the holiday, providing an opportunity to carry out environmental.
An ecological hotel is one that is fully integrated into the environment without damaging the environment, contributing in some way to progress and improvement of the local community and sustainable growth of the tourism industry, like Finca Exotica Eco Lodge.
The term has been used on a more regular basis as new websites devoted to the subject become more prominent and hotel owners become more interested in protecting the areas their guests have come to visit.
New properties are being built from sustainable resources–tropical hardwoods, local stone–and designed to better blend in with their environment. In addition, they are also being run on eco-friendly principles, such as serving organic or locally grown food or using natural cooling as opposed to air conditioning.
To the well-intentioned traveler, ‘green’ labels can be a bit vague, a tinted title that has been taken to mean a host of things, not all of them positive. Faced with growing concerns about ‘greenwashing’ and tongue-twisting turns of phrase like ‘sustainable eco nature adventures,’ the average person is left wondering what a green leaf means on hotel pamphlets. Does not washing your towels really make that much of a difference?
Is switching off your lights really going to save the planet? What makes green hotels truly ‘green’?
To answer that, we first need to look at what it means to be sustainable.
How do things look today?
These days, green initiatives are usually taken to mean those where the practice either has a positive or neutral (anything except negative) effect on the natural environment. But while the protection of natural resources is a vital preoccupation, sustainability means a lot more than saving our planet’s trees.
Local and indigenous communities across the planet often suffer in the shadow of hard-impact mass-market tourism. While the proceeds from tourism may, generally speaking, bring in capital and sometimes even increase peace and stability, local people are sometimes hard pressed to see the benefits. The lion’s share of profits are shipped abroad to foreign stakeholders while local people are even frequently overlooked as staff, tour guides or regional experts. With some bitterness, local people see their cultures bought and sold in front of them, often returned in with no resemblance to the centuries-old traditions that drew in tourists in the first place.
What is sustainability?
Clearly there is no catch-all phrase able to determine whether the place in which you are staying deserves the title of being ‘green,’ but sustainability can certainly be measured in terms of an accommodation’s or tour’s effect on the health of the environment, energy consumption, the promotion of local culture and heritage, the distribution of profits, labour force vitality and even the quality and nature of building materials. The following chart should be looked at as a review of general trends in sustainable travel and ecotourism, not as a checklist. The list doesn’t stop there, but we hope it will help add to the current discussion on sustainable tourism.
1. Energy Savings: timers on lights, key activated electricity
2. Emissions-free transportation: bicycles, animals, electric cars
3. Rotating electricity and water scheduled
4. Alternative energy generation: solar panels or heaters, wind turbines, hydro power
1. Use of locals as hotel staff, tour guides, management and communications support
2. Promotion and training opportunities for locals
3. Educating guests about community lifestyles (see cultural heritage)
4. Educating guests about local human rights and political issues
5. Use of locally grown food and produce
1. Integration of cultural lifestyles and heritage aspects into tours and accommodayions
2. Respectful exposure to ceremonies and traditional practices
3. Inclusion of local food in restaurants and visits to businesses on tours
4. Respect for cultural norms and values
1. Water conserveration: low-flush toilets, local purified water, shorter showers drawn from local sources
2. Toxin reduction: chlorine substitutes, acid-free paper
3. Waste management: recycling programs, alternative septic systems, reusable amenities
4. Choice of materials and style of lodging: local natural resources, energy-saving designs, locally made furniture and textiles and art.