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Eco-Friendly Travel

One of today’s biggest travel trend includes eco-awareness.   Many travelers are much more concerned about the environment than they have been in the past and thus make corresponding choices about where they travel and where they stay.

According to research from the Green Hotel Association, an organization in Texas that promotes ecological consciousness in the hospitality industry, 43 million U.S. travelers say they are concerned about the environment.  As a result the travel industry is making an effort to promote green initiatives.  In today’s travel environment it is not difficult for consumers to be more eco-friendly. 
Car rental companies Hertz, Budget and Avis are adding more fuel-efficient cars to their fleet, and many limo companies use hybrid vehicles.  Hertz promotes it has nearly 35,000 in its Green Collection fleet.  While 100% of Budget rental vehicles in economy, compact and intermediate categories, and 98% of standard and full-size car classes have met stringent U.S. EPA guidelines and are SmartWay Certified. Each vehicle receives an Air Pollution Score and a Greenhouse Gas Score, on a scale of 1-10. For the SmartWay designation, a vehicle must receive a 6 or better on both scores, and have a total score of at least 13.  At Avis approximately half the fleet have a fuel efficiency rating of 28 miles per gallon or better (highway). One-fourth of the fleet is rated at 30 miles per gallon (highway) or better.
The Fairmont Hotel chain offers in-room information, recycling bins, optional sheet and towel replacement at select locations, energy-efficient lighting, and water-conserving showerheads, toilets and tap aerators.  Their eco-cuisine menus incorporate local, seasonal and organically grown foods wherever possible. Special menus for Eco-Meet can also include a 50-percent reduction in animal proteins, supplemented by vegetable proteins at meal functions.  Select Fairmont hotels and resorts have their own herb gardens or the ability to adjust their cuisine to utilize seasonings locally grown featuring dishes using those ingredients. The emphasis is on healthy, environmentally friendly and delicious food.
Aloft Hotels, a member of the Starwood Hotel collection, opened their first location in Canada in 2008 and now have 38 locations around the world offering a unique hotel experience.  Aloft is really about the self-sufficient traveler who has a lot of energy, a positive vibe and certainly tech-savvy design focused. The experience at their location in Lexington, Massachusetts begins upon arrival, with park-like landscaping that offers the chance for a breath of fresh air. Premium parking spots are allocated for hybrid cars to reward the most eco-minded guests.  Guest rooms contain natural materials like cork and sustainable wood veneers which are integrated into the hotel’s design. Their pools even use a cleaner, greener saline solution.
Australia’s award winning resort located just 45 mins north of Cairns, and just south of Port Douglas, Thala Beach Lodge resides on the only private beach in the are.  It provides the perfect location to explore the Great Barrier Reef, private coastal beaches and tropical rainforest, with individual private bungalows that are set overlooking the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, World Heritagelisted rainforest and lush tropical beaches.

At a time when there are great concerns about fragile environments, Thala Beach Lodge proudly boasts that it has achieved the highest accreditation of ecocertification through its sustainable practice and environmental sensitivity.

Located at one of the most fascinating Mexican biological reserves, nestled on a 3 mile virgin beach is the Hotel Eco Paraiso which features bungalows each overlooking the emerald green Gulf of Mexico.

Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico is a main feeding area for the Pink Flamingo and countless species of waterfowl and shore birds. It was decreed a Special Biosphere Reserve in 1989. By definition, this is a zone of one or more ecosystems that haven't been altered by man.

At Buck Island Reef National Monument, the reef surrounding was named America's first-ever underwater national monument in 1961 which, naturally, has resulted in an ecosystem so thriving and well-preserved that 30,000 visitors a year flock to see it, making it the single most popular attraction on St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Echo-friendly vacations are numerous and if you are willing to adjust your vacation travel dates, you are among the 61 percent of Americans who in order to save money are willing to travel during “off peak” periods when the prices may be more favorable. This trend seems to transcend all age categories.  While weather conditions may not be perfect, the savings travelers may realize by traveling in the off season can represent a valuable sum.

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Al and Kathy Reid