Ventana Big Sur
“Summer Above Par” is our season-long travel series with founder Brandon Berkson of Hotels Above Par—an expertly curated guide designed for the hip traveler who is short on time.
With more people becoming aware of climate change every day, it’s not hard to understand why eco-friendly, sustainable hotels are increasing in popularity. Sustainable construction, eco-friendly amenities, locally sourced organic meals, giving back to Mother Earth while on vacation and lessening one’s carbon footprint are all in style. And for good reason: Combating climate change is a collective effort.
This month, we take a look at eight stylish, sumptuous, sustainable hotels across the Americas.
Alex Krotkov / Casona Sforza
CASONA SFORZA | Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
A design lover’s dream, Casona Sforza exudes beauty through its 11 arch-vaulted suites, neutral tone and tropical wood decor, and beachfront location. Sustainability is at the forefront here.
Eco-conscious, community-driven initiatives include releasing sea turtles into the ocean; the internally created Pueblo del Sol, an organization that sources art and product from locals living in the Oaxacan Highlands; and an on-site culinary concept that uses noninvasive farm-to-table ingredients to ensure carbon footprint minimization. Other notable eco-friendly elements include a saltwater pool, the use of biodegradable cleaning products and locally made soaps.
Hix Island House
HIX ISLAND HOUSE | Vieques, Puerto Rico
Hix Island House on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques is an architectural masterpiece from head to toe. Its 19 loft rooms are surrounded by foliage and palm tree-lined beaches, with each ounce of the buildings’ construction respecting eco-friendly practices.
Here, solar panels spawn hot water and electricity, and rinse from guestroom showers is recycled into the soil of surrounding guava, papaya, banana and lemon trees.
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Fogo Island Inn
FOGO ISLAND INN | Newfoundland, Canada
The 29-room Todd Sanders-designed Fogo Island Inn is located on the tiny Fogo Island, just off the northern shore of the island province of Newfoundland. Because the sustainable hotel stands on stilts, a nod to traditional outport fishing stages for which the area is known, it does not disrupt the rocks, berries and lichens below. A collaboration with Carbonzero encourages guests to achieve carbon neutrality during their trip.
When booking a stay, the hotel provides an estimate of each guest’s carbon footprint, which includes travel to and from the hotel, heat and electricity usage, and associated waste and food-oriented emissions. Guests can then purchase carbon offsets that support local conservancy projects. The eco-friendly accommodation also identifies as a community asset, with 100 percent of operating surpluses reinvested into surroundings to help secure a sustainable future for the island.
The Lodge at Blue Sky
THE LODGE AT BLUE SKY | Park City, Utah
The uber-luxe Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection is set on 3,500 acres of rugged, picturesque Wasatch Mountain terrain. The lodge minimizes its carbon footprint by sourcing everything from the on-property Gracie’s Farm, which is committed to producing sustainable crops as well as fostering a deep connection with surrounding flora and fauna.
In addition to providing fresh produce for the hotel’s ambrosial restaurant, Yuta, led by Chef Galen Zamarra, the farm provides wildflowers and herbs for in-room bath experiences, and its thriving bee colony generates honey that is used in treatments at the relaxing Edge Spa.
Ventana Big Sur
VENTANA BIG SUR | Big Sur, California
Located along one of the Pacific Ocean’s most treasured coastlines, Ventana Big Sur hosts 59 breathtaking suites scattered on 160 acres that encompass rolling hills, towering Redwoods, and crashing waves. “Sustainability” is not just a buzz word for this hotel but rather a way of life.
Ventana Big Sur teems with eco-friendly initiatives, including a property-wide recycling program, the use of furniture constructed from fallen Redwoods, drought-tolerant landscaping practices and membership with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which stresses buying and serving seafood from sustainable sources.
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CALA LUNA | Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Shrouded in a verdant jungle landscape, eco-resort Cala Luna wants guests to feel as though they are contributing to the environment. Staff can arrange for guests to attend beach cleanups and organic farm tours. In addition to housing 1,400 solar panels on property, the sustainable hotel holds the Blue Flag Ecological Program certification, a highly esteemed recognition the government awards to ecologically specialized communities in Costa Rica.
It’s not hard to understand why Cala Luna received the accolade: It trains its staff in green practices, preaches flora and fauna conservation, uses recyclable and biodegradable toiletries, offers complimentary bikes for guests and integrates native ingredients into spa treatment recipes.
Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
SURFJACK HOTEL & SWIM CLUB | Honolulu, Hawaii
The hip 112-key Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club near Waikiki Beach sports a revitalized 1960s vintage-style decor. As part of #PlasticFreeHawaii, the hotel stopped serving plastic water bottles as an in-room amenity, a simple yet effective way to showcase its stance on sustainability. Poolside, guests will find a complimentary Raw Elements sunscreen dispenser, an eco-friendly alternative for SPF that reduces damage to our ocean’s coral reefs.
Gastronomy-wise, Surfjack’s Mahina and Suns eatery is sea-conscious and operates without Styrofoam and single-use plastic. The restaurant’s chef, Ed Kenney, showcases his “local first, organic whenever possible, with Aloha always” ethos in a menu that features fresh seafood, fruits and veggies mixed in with island favorites, such as Portuguese Bean Soup.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
BANYAN TREE MAYAKOBA | Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The upscale Banyan Tree Mayakoba is all about having its guests give back, from its Paper Recycling workshop—which turns waste into notebooks for underprivileged community members—to the Marine Turtle Protection program that educates vacationers and offers them the chance to release baby sea turtles into the ocean during July and August.
The Banyan Tree brand advocates for an “embracing the environment, empowering people” approach, which calls for harmony with nature and contributing to the development of the surrounding communities.
Join us for Net Zero ICONIC Home, a year-long conversation about Living Beautifully and Sustainably in a zero-energy home. We’ve partnered with AFT Construction, Construction Instruction, Cosan Studio, Refined Gardens and K & Q Interiors to take you on a journey of Inspiration, Education and Motivation around sustainable design and living.
We’re giving you a front-row seat each month to see the progress and what it takes to develop a net-zero home. Stay tuned each month for content, social media coverage, videos, podcasts and special events all tied to sustainability as we bring this home to life.
Thank you to our sponsors: Arizona Hardwood, Arizona Fireplaces/Heat&Glo Fireplaces, Avocado Mattress, Circa Lighting, Crestron, Neighbor, Solstice Stone and Sub-Zero/Expressions Home Gallery.
Sustainability Sponsors: Broan-Nutone, Elkay/Southwest Mechanical, Interior Essentials, Pella and Renovation Angel.