What Makes A Hotel Eco-Friendly?

What Makes A Hotel Eco-FriendlyI recently took a trip with my daughter to the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Florida, we needed a girls trip to some place warm after our long winter and we got to visit Grandma. When I was looking for hotels I had one criteria, a kiddie pool. I saw that the resort was touting itself as “green” not officially by any seal. It was trip on a whim so my research stopped there I felt it was better than nothing and I booked it.

When I arrived other than seeing a sea of green lush grass I saw several charging stations for electric vehicles in the prime parking for the resort. I was impressed, I am always happy to see support for EV’s. I thought we were off to a good and earnest start on being considered an eco-friendly resort.

When I got to my room I saw lots of the typical hotel green things like the sign in the bathroom stating that if you put the towels on the floor they will replaced and if not they will stay. They also stated that sheets will be changed until the third day of your stay. These are typical things to see, I was happy to see them but they did not set them apart from any other resort making any efforts.

Hotel 1Looking around I saw other things, not typical things like the energy efficient hairdryer and coffee maker. My room even had recycling bins for paper and plastic/tin. The thermostat was a smart thermostat to ensure energy efficiency. I have honestly never seen that in my travels through out the years so I give high marks to these efforts.

Lets get to the bathroom….the shower had the lowest flow shower head I have ever felt. It was like water torture. I was not sold on the efficiency of this, it took 3 times as long to get the shampoo out of my hair. I put this in the grey area of eco-friendly on paper it may seem efficient but I think in practice this effort fell far short.

Sounds great right, sounds greener than other resorts right? That may be true but here are all the things that is no where close to green.

The golf course, which is sprayed with gallons of pesticide and synthetic fertilizer every year. Then it is doused with water daily to keep it green. Then this overly fertile run off goes into the ponds around the course that would develop pond scum or algae if they were not treated with chemicals. I am not naive, I get it, it is the PGA resort people are looking for a beautiful course and until that perception of perfection is changed this chemical process will remain.

In the restaurants they had single use containers for drinks and even had single boxes of cereal on the breakfast buffet. They also did something that drives me nuts, especially at beach or close to the beach resorts they gave you a straw already in the glass with EVERYTHING. One of the restaurants used reusable plastic plates to serve their meals on, I felt going ceramic would have been a more eco-friendly choice.

Even the room keys were not eco-friendly… the room key had your name printed on it so it was heavy plastic single use key. I have actually never seen this before in any hotel. I can honestly say I see no purpose and must create so much waste every year.

Now back to the room, there was still single use  bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Beth Terry spoke about this on her blog. Of course there were the typical over priced plastic bottles of water for purchase in the room. We all see this at hotels but the next thing is new, disposable coffee cups with paper sleeves and plastic tops (I have even seen these cups wrapped in plastic before). At least the coffee maker did not use K-cups!

I had a wonderful time at the resort, and I applaud the efforts to be eco-friendly but I found them to be token at best. We really need to tell hotels what we want when we stay there. I am going to send a letter with all my recommendation so they know that their customers care about these things.

What are some eco-friendly things you have seen in hotels and resorts?



  1. Thanks for writing this article. I’ve found that the offer to not take towels if they aren’t on the floor is mostly ignored by the cleaning staff (perhaps education could be improved on that end). I did stay in one eco-hotel in San Diego and there were actually a few bugs in the room (a good sign that no pesticides were used). The most authentically eco-savvy hotel I stayed at was A-Loft near the SF airport. Really had efficiency and low trash potential down.