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You want a vacation that feels like a vacation—a pool, a comfy bed, good food, plenty of things to do (or not). But you also don’t want a holiday that puts the environment second fiddle to your comforts. Now more than ever, properties in dreamy locales are making environmental protections part of the experience, either through design, like making the most of alternative energy sources, green building protocols, energy-efficient heating and cooling, and waste-reduction practices, or by inviting you to participate in conservation efforts. Here are seven notable outposts doing just that.
Wilderness Safaris Jao Camp
Okavango Delta, Botswana
At Wilderness Safaris Jao Camp, which closed for a top-down renovation in 2018 and reopened this summer, you’ll stay in one of five villas built into the tree canopy, with your own private plunge pool, outdoor shower, butler, and chef. This entirely solar-powered safari camp was reconstructed with an intentionally low footprint to minimize impact on the Okavango Delta. Electricity and hot water are powered by on-site solar panels, rooms are chilled with a silent evaporative cooler, which consumes less energy than normal air-conditioning, and single-use plastics have been replaced with reusable, organic amenities. When you’re not relaxing in your villa, paddle the delta in a traditional dugout canoe, search for buffalo and elephants, or stargaze on an outdoor deck. From $1,262 per person, all-inclusive
The Nines Hotel
The silver LEED-certified Nines Hotel, located in a historic downtown Portland building that once housed a department store, gets creative with its sustainability efforts. All 331 guest rooms have energy-saving thermostats, low-flush toilets, and LED lights. But this property goes beyond the typical requirements, with a rooftop herb garden and rainwater collection system, an on-site beehive that supplies all of the hotel’s honey, and discounted rates on valet parking if you drop off a hybrid car. Close to 80 percent of its waste is diverted from landfills, thanks to a full-proof recycling system and biodegradable products. Take the MAX light-rail around town, run through Waterfront Park, or dine on vegan sushi and dim sum on the hotel’s rooftop terrace. From $235
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
At Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, sleep in one of 25 well-appointed waterfront or rainforest tents set along a seven-mile-long deep-water fjord. No roads lead here, so arrive via a 40-minute boat ride from nearby Tofino (you can also get there by a 45-minute floatplane ride from Vancouver, but it won’t fit the eco theme quite as well). Meals are served in a log cookhouse, yoga takes place daily in the studio or on its deck, and you can paddleboard or enjoy guided hikes throughout the area’s estuary. If you feel inspired to give back, join the hotel’s wildlife-habitat rehabilitation efforts on the Clayoquot Sound by signing up to remove marine debris or replenish salmon-spawning environs. Since 2001, the resort, in concert with Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Ahousaht First Nation, has been working to repair environmental damage left from the mining and logging industries of the 1800s. From $3,531 per person for a three-night package
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
There are just five tented suites built on timber platforms at Kasiiya Papagayo, which opened in January, and each comes with supreme privacy on the resort’s 123-acre waterfront property. This solar-powered wilderness retreat was built without cutting down any trees and by using natural, low-impact materials. An electric car delivers guests to nearby sights, tents come stocked with drinks in a cooler instead of a fridge, and there’s an empty, white-sand beach steps from your deck. Surfing at Tamarindo is an hour away, or you can climb a tree, sea kayak to islands, or take a hike through the jungle right from your tent. Spot monkeys, crocodiles, and butterflies in the animal sanctuary at the nearby Diamante Eco Adventure Park. From $490, including meals, activities, and airport transfer
The Blake Hotel
Taos, New Mexico
The upscale, slopeside Blake Hotel opened at the base of Taos Ski Valley in 2017. This 80-room silver LEED-certified property is part of a revamp of the ski area’s base village, continuing the resort’s ongoing commitment to environmental practices. The hotel’s geothermal heating and cooling system and its water efficiency will contribute to Taos Ski Valley’s goal of reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. (Taos Ski Valley is the first and only ski resort in the world to become a Certified B Corporation, a designation for businesses that exhibit high standards of social and environmental impact.) As a guest, you’ll appreciate the spa’s skier-specific massage treatments, overnight ski storage with boot dryers, and après-ski cocktails at the hotel bar. From $259
Borrow a free cruiser bike from the 59-room Oxford Hotel to explore downtown Bend, or park your Tesla out front in one of the electric-vehicle charging stations (electric cars also get free valet parking). This boutique property has comfortable suites with views of the Cascade Mountains, loaner guitars for impromptu jam sessions, and organic breakfast delivered to your room. Powered entirely by renewable energy, the Oxford is equipped with low-energy heating and cooling systems, recycled materials in the design build, low-flow bathroom faucets, and all-natural mattresses. From $409
High Lonesome Ranch
De Beque, Colorado
Less than an hour north of Grand Junction, High Lonesome Ranch is a conservation-minded organization disguised as a guest ranch. Stay in private cabins, shared homes, or canvas tents along a tumbling creek on the ranch’s sprawling 250,000 acres. Miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails surround the property, and horseback riding and fly-fishing for brown and brook trout are a must. While it doesn’t have many eco-lodge elements in its design, the ranch works to protect and preserve biodiversity through an on-site research group that studies everything from stream restoration and migratory animals to aspen-grove replenishing. It also has a team dedicated to preserving and restoring degraded wildlife habitat in an effort to promote mixed use of the land, from ranching and farming to recreation. From $1,245 for two nights of double occupancy, meals and some activities included
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