Sunday, November 29, 2009

Green Travels moves to new URL

Green Travels has moved.

You'll find the same eco-friendly information, in a new format, with a new name, ecoXplorer.

Please visit exoXplorer for the latest news in green travel, green cars and saving the green in your wallet on both.

Please also visit my NYC on the Cheap website for the latest news on events, sales and bargains and other deals in New York City, plus some national ones, too.

I hope you visit. I hope you approve of the move.

Evelyn Kanter

Monday, August 17, 2009

Four Star Hotels Become Luxury Green Travel Choices

Who says the words green luxury hotels can't be used in the in the same sentence? Not me, and not the four-star hotel group RockResorts.

Their green lodging program extends the same top green environmental standard to all rooms in upscale hotels such as the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado, and the Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
RockResorts calls it the "Green Room". Yes, yes, of course it starts with energy efficient lighting and electronics, a towel and linen reuse program, low flow bath fixtures and a recycling bin under the desk. That is now the absolute minimum standard across the hotel industry worldwide. Little bits of green that are great for starters. RockResorts does more. Lots more.
  • Bath amenities -- These are custom formulated, all natural, essential oils, free from preservatives and other artificial ingredients such as parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate derivates and artificial or synthetic colors and fragrances, in recyclable bottles.

  • Cleaning products -- Housekeeping staff uses Green Seal and EPA certified products. That means they are formulated without chemicals such as chlorine bleach and are less toxic to you and to the environment.

  • Paints and finishes -- These are low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds), also less toxic to you and to the environment. Plus, all rooms and facilities are entirely smoke free.

There's also a voluntary guest program for guests to donate $1 a night to the National Forest Foundation in Colorado, or other non-profit environmental group. For every dollar contributed by guests, the NFF will match at $.50. Since 2006, this program has raised more than $1.2 million for conservation efforts in the national forests that surround RockResorts hotels.

RockResorts has a long history of concern for the environment. Company founder Laurance Rockefeller started the company in 1956 based on the premise that all his hotels and resorts would embrace and nurture their locations.

The luxury hotel group also has its own Director of Environmental Affairs, Julie Klein, who describes these Green Room standards as minimum requirements. "We plan to continue to grow this program to further demonstrate our commitment to the iconic locations in which we operate our resort hotels, and to the overall guest experience."

RockResorts is owned by Vail Resorts, which has a corporate wide mandate to reduce the overall energy use by 10 percent at the end of 2010.

  • Hotels include --
  • The Arrabelle at Vail Square
  • The Lodge at Vail in Vail, Colorado
  • Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado
  • The Osprey at Beaver Creek The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • The Landings St. Lucia, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

New hotels are Tempo Miami in Miami, Fla. (scheduled to open in 2009); One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge, Colo. (2010); The Mansfield Inn at Stowe in Stowe, Vt. (winter 2010/2011); Rum Cay Resort Marina, The Bahamas (2011); and the Third Turtle Club & Spa, Turks and Caicos (2011).

So, absolutely yes, luxury travel can be green travel.

Read more green hotel news and reviews from Green Travel guru Evelyn Kanter.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Moving Experience

In case you've been noticing there aren't many posts lately, it's because I'm moving.

All the content from GreenTravels is being moved to my new website, Go take a look. It's not finished yet. We're still tinkering.

Cheers, and best wishes for 2009!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Make Your Holiday Gifts Count

Sure, you could give everybody on your gift list a pair of gloves, a scarf or a box of chocolates they don't need and might not even like. Or, you could make your gift really count and give a donation to an international charity in the name of your friend, relative or boss.

Here are some suggestions for giving green to legitimate charities which help the poor and the sick around the world --

Doctors Without Borders -- There's an urgent need for funds to help in Zimbabwe, which is suffering a killing outbreak of cholera. This group's doctors and nurses have treated more than 11,000 victims since August. Thousands have died, including entire families.

Heifer International -- As little as $20 will buy a flock of baby chicks, ducklings or geese that can lay eggs to feed a family, grow up and breed more chickens, ducks or geese that can be sold to support the family -- and the eggs those animals produce start expand the cycle to the next family. Heifer International has programs in South America and Asia.

Red Cross -- No explanation needed.

Taj Hotel, Mumbai, India -- The terrorist attack in November killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more, at the historic Taj Hotel and other locations in the city that used to be called Bombay. The owners of the Taj -- which suffered millions of dollars in damage -- have started a Trust Fund for victims. There is no website for donations -- email for instructions on how to donate.

Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation -- You can search the database for free, and find the name of your grandparent or great-grandparent, and the name of the boat he or she arrived on to the United States. Or, donate something to help keep those records free, by adding a name to the Wall of Honor -- buy your relative's name to be inscribed on that wall.
Any of these gifts are more valuable than another pair of gloves, don't you think?

And if you wonder about how good a charity is, check Charity Navigator, which rates charities based on how much of your donation goes to the people or service -- and how much the fund-raiser keeps. You will be surprised. Even shocked.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Top Travel Deals for Holidays and New Year

As bad as the economic headlines are, just one-quarter of us are dropping holiday travel plans -- according more than 1,400 people surveyed by the the travel planning website Kayak. And those people might be tempted by all the deals and bargains to help you save green -- as in green dollars.

Hotels, resorts and destination cities are getting pretty creative, too, with their travel deals. And some of them extend into the new year:

Virginia -- Ooh, baby, it's cold outside, and the colder it is, the less you'll pay for a room. Participaing hotels in Fairfax County -- just outside Washington, D. C. -- are freezing their room rates on weekends through December 27, 2008, to match the temperature outside. A room rate of $27 will certainly warm my heart, even if 27 degrees is freezing my body parts. Or whatever the temperature is at noon on Saturday at Dulles International Airport. Make your reservation at least 72 hours in advance, and no, the deal does not extend to January and the inauguration celebration events for Barack Obama.

Las Vegas -- Through January 30, 2009, you can get 30 percent off your bill at the MGM Grand or the Signature at MGM Grand just by paying with your MasterCard®. The discount applies to dining, entertainment and spa purchases at both resorts when they are charged to your hotel bill. Room rates start at $89 at MGM Grand and $149 for suites at The Signature. Just don't gamble away your savings in the casinos!

Delta and Hilton -- Are you a member of either -- or both -- of their frequent flyer, frequent guest programs? Delta SkyMiles and Hilton HHonors? If not, hurry up and join so you can get six times the miles with the airline program with each stay of two nights or more at a participating Hilton hotel worldwide, through February 28, 2009. Act fast, because this 6x bonus won't last long.

Intercontinental Hotels -- Sometimes, souvenir shopping is the difference between carry-on that' s still free and checking a bag for the flight home for whatever your airline is charging this week, anywhere from $20 to $50. If you are staying at a participating InterContinental Hotel through January 2, 2009, they'll ship home -- free -- one box per room, up to 30 pounds, via standard shipping service, to anywhere within the continental U.S. Just show up with your loot at the hotel's business center with the goodies and proof of purchase and leave the rest to them. Of course, if you want to ship home holiday gifts from that family visit, you'll have to ask Aunt Sylvia for the receipt, which could be dicey, if your Aunt Sylvia is like mine.

Ah, yes, many ways to save green when you travel this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Travel Insurance -- Why You Need It

The question is not whether you should have travel insurance when you travel, the question is which kind you should have.

This week, the India terror attack devastated the city of Mumbai, and the Bangkok Airport was shut down by political demonstrations, stranding more than 200,000 tourists for more than a week. Last year, a baggage snafu at London's Heahtrow Airport delayed flights for days and baggage for longer.

Missed connections, misplaced or damaged luggage, an unexpected accident or illness in the family before or during a trip, the unrest after a disputed election, such as occurred in Kenya recently, a strike or work stoppage by airline or train workers, even forgetting your passport for departure or losing it en route -- these are all reasons you should not leave home without travel insurance, travel medical insurance, or both.

So, which kind to get? Start with travel insurance that covers trip cancellation.
Without trip cancellation insurance, you are at the mercy of airlines, which can charge as much as ten times the price of your original, discounted, advance-purchase ticket for a replacement. Without trip cancellation insurance, your hotel might charge you a 'no-show' fee that's half the cost of the room, even if they rent it to somebody else.

Basic policies also cover delayed baggage, so you can buy yourself a toothbrush and a clean t-shirt and be re-imbursed.

And many travel insurance policies cover medical care away from home that is not covered by your regular health insurance policy. So, it is especially important for U. S. travellers over 65 to have travel insurance with a medical component, since Medicare does not cover medical care outside the United States.

Generally, travel insurance policies have a medical cap at $5,000 or $10,000, which -- generally -- is enough for a family reunion with grandma in Scotland, or the first ski trip with the grandchildren in Lake Tahoe. And, generally, travel insurance policies cover everybody travelling together on a family trip. But you have to read the fine print to be sure.

If you are going on that once-in-a-lifetime trip -- travel to see the penguins in Patagonia, or the blue boobies in the Galapagos, or hiking the rugged trails of the Caucusus -- you should consider a travel insurance policy that includes helicipter evacuation from even the most remote area. Such as what is offered by MedJet Assist, which will even fly you home in a special med-evac aircraft. Expensive? If you had to pay for it out-of-pocket, it could cost $15,000, or more. But your entire family is covered for $350 a year. Now that's green travel -- saving green!

Here are other travel insurance companies I recommend --

You can compare them by checking Travel Insurance Review, a non-biased industry organization. And be sure to check your homeowner's policy, even your auto insurance policy for hidden gems of coverage.

Another advantage of insurance is that it gives you one place to call to arrange all the details, including re-imbursement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Historic Santa Monica Hotel Re-Opens With Green Features

It's not unusual for the beautiful ladies of Santa Monica to get a facelift when they reach that 'certain age'. When the legendary grande dame is the historic Hotel Shangri-La, that body-re-building costs $30 million. The result is a sleek new look with equally modern green amenities and practices.

The Hotel Shangri-La sits on Ocean Avenue, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a spot where you can't help being aware of the environment. There are ocean views from nearly every room.

Hotelier Tehmina Adaya says, "Hotels are notoriously one of the biggest offenders to the environment, and we wanted to challenge this idea by incorporating easy elements to eliminate excessive and unnecessary waste." What this Art Deco gem is doing to be sustainable and eco-friendly includes --
  • bath amenities from Natura Green. Packaging is made recycled paper and bottles are bio-degradable (made from a cornstarch based product), and all products are non-animal tested.

  • $5.00 off Overnight Valet Parking for guests driving a hybrid vehicle.

  • Bottled Water provided from Natura Waters. All carbonization and filtration will be done on-site and glass bottles are sanitized and re-used.

  • Non-toxic, organic cleaning products used for housekeeping.

  • An Electric Cart for hotel staff to use for running local errands.

  • All paper products and stationary printed on recycled paper.

  • Rooms furnished with Dual Flush low flow toilets.

  • Newspapers will be delivered to guest rooms upon request, not as a standard, to save thousands of copies that are never read.

  • The restaurant is being supplied by local vendors and purveyors, and the wine list features primarily American wines to help lower carbon impact.

  • There are double layered the windows to prevent loss of heat and air conditioning, and compact fluorescent lighting is used throughout the hotel.

  • Even the pool is eco-friendly -- it is solar heated.

Hotel Shangri-La also has partnered with a recycling agency to pick up all bottles and cardboard, since recycling bins are not a standard city service in Santa Monica.

They've also partnered with Midway Car Rental agency, which offers the largest selection of hybrid cars and is located blocks from hotel. Their fleet includes the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX400 SUV and LS600 sedan, Chevy Tahoe and Toyota Camry.

Hotel Shangri-La is an architectural gem and historic landmark. Built in 1939, it is an Art Deco beauty combined with Hollywood allure and Los Angeles history.