January 7, 2009

Green Vacations (updated 8-18-09)

Go on a Guilt-Free Getaway

Green resorts are now in vogue as more “green tourists” make vacation plans. If you recycle at home, it’s almost painful to throw away soda cans or newspapers in your hotel room. Whether your taste tends toward lavish or laid-back vacations, you don’t need to leave your green credentials at home when you travel.

Eco-friendly resorts no longer mean using composting toilets or being deprived of modern conveniences like AC or TV. The leisure industry is taking giant steps toward responsible practices and encouraging sustainable travel. Conservation is no longer just for minimalist eco-lodges.

But don’t be fooled by "green-washing." Some resorts, as a marketing ploy, claim eco-credentials that do not bear scrutiny. There are now more than 70 major eco-labels for hotels. It’s not easy to separate the green-doers from the green-washers. But if they’ve earned a seal of approval from an independent sustainable tourism certification program, that’s a good sign that they’re making more than a token effort.

Conde Nast Traveler has a website with great tips on sustainable and socially responsible travel at http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/makeadifference

Green Lodging — Is Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality’s voluntary certification program that encourages Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry to do what they can to protect the environment.

Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg Marriott, Hampton Inn Center, Williamsburg Hospitality House, Great Wolf Lodge, and York River Inn B & B are among the more than 300 hotels across America that have sought this “Green Lodging” certification.

This tiered, self-policing program has a long list of initiatives that range from water and energy conservation to bulk purchasing and using green cleaners. At the very least, the resorts must offer guests the opportunity to recycle and to request “optional linen service,” where sheets and towels are not automatically changed every day during your stay. Plan a vacation that’s one shade greener and stay at resorts like these.

8-09: The Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance earned certification as a “Virginia Green Travel Organization” by the Virginia DEQ, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association. Click here http://www.williamsburgcc.com/media/TheAllianceGoesVirginiaGreen.cfm

Kudos — To Marriott’s Manor Club at Ford’s Colony which recently partnered with TFC Recycling to provide recycling opportunities in its timeshare and rental villas. Director of Operations, Jeff Hobson, said “The six sessions of bi-lingual training that we offered our housekeeping staff made all the difference,” in making this program effective. “We made refrigerator magnets to educate our guests and bought recycling containers for each villa. Any costs were offset in reduced landfill expenses.”