What is an Eco Hotel and How To Tell If It Truly Is Eco-friendly

Not all hotels are eco friendly but some already are. What is an Eco Hotel anyway?

An eco hotel is a hotel that is environmentally responsible and also environmentally sustainable. This simply means that such a hotel is committed to minimizing their environmental impact while also ensuring they give back to their community in meaningful ways.

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An eco hotel must have “sustainability” integrated into the culture of staff members and each department must be doing its part to preserve the earth.

An eco hotel is also known as a green hotel or eco-friendly hotel; so wherever you see these names, know that they all mean the same thing. A great way to reduce your overall impact of travel is by choosing an eco hotel.

In this post, I cover everything you need to know about an eco hotel and what to look out for when you are ready to lodge at one.

Characteristics of an Eco Hotel

If you are still asking yourself the question, “What is an Eco Hotel or how do I identify one?” Here are things to watch out for if you want to know whether the hotel you would be staying is actually eco-friendly.

*They reuse linens when guests stay over for more than a night.

*Organic soaps are present throughout the property for guests and staff

*Use water efficiently.

*They have energy efficient light fixtures.

*They reduce waste and also have compost and recycling programs on site and in the guest rooms.

*They have appropriate bins that are labeled with proper signage for waste and recycling to eliminate confusion.

*They promote eco friendly transportation.

*They serve local and seasonal food.

*They possess certifications which shows they are complying with environmental standards.

*The hotel serves local organic food in their restaurants

Some Travel Sites Are Way Ahead!

The hospitality industry, hotels in this case, are gradually looking at ways to make their properties sustainable including earning green certifications.

Sites like trip advisor also have lots of green hotels and you can easily find them by looking for the greenleaders badge on the listing page for that hotel.

Simply click on the badge and you would be able to see their green practices! In a nutshell, trip advisor is simply educating us to make choices that are eco-friendly and they are also encouraging hotels to be more eco conscious!

A great example of a green leader hotel on trip advisor is Bardessono Hotel and Spa, located in the heart of Yountville, California. Look them up on trip advisor and you would notice their green leader platinum badge!

Move your mouse over the badge and you would be able to see all their green practices!

7 Reasons Why You Should Stay At An Eco Hotel

So many hotels have been joining the sustainable tourism movement in recent years.

Many hotels are taking steps to make their hotels more sustainable Have you ever tried lodging in an eco hotel? Here are 7 reasons why you should stay at an eco hotel on your next trip.

1. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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If you are not sure what carbon footprint is all about, you may want to check my previous post here.

In a nutshell, a carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases that have been emitted as a result of our actions. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) are emitted through transportation, burning of fossil fuels, manufacturing of goods as well as other services.

If you are concerned about the impact your trip would have on the environment, then you may want to stay at an eco hotel. Eco hotels keep track of their carbon footprint and they also ensure their activities have minimal impact on the environment. Your carbon footprint will be less when you stay at a hotel dedicated to preserving the environment.

2. Help The Local Community

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Impacting the local community positively is the true definition of an eco hotel. Eco hotels hire people within the local community and also make use of locally made products.

3. Eco Hotels Are Healthier for Us

Source: Brooke Lark

Eco hotels stay away from toxic substances, bed sheets, floors and towels are washed with eco friendly products. Some hotels may even take it a step further serving only organics foods that are in season meaning you eat fresh, healthy and delicious foods while staying there.

4. Unique Experience

Source: Florian Giorgio

Every eco hotel is unique in its own way; meaning every eco hotel will provide a different but wonderful experience for you. This is a good reason to book an eco hotel and have fun knowing you are also doing your bit.

5. Sustainability

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Sustainability is what eco hotels are all about because they will keep striving to ensure that they apply environmentally conscious practices in all areas of their operation. So even after you have spent sometime at such a hotel and you leave, rest assured that these practices will remain in place. You can even take some new ideas back with you.

6. Engage in Environmentally Friendly Activities

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This is what sets eco hotels apart from conventional ones!
Eco hotels are usually engaged in eco friendly programs that have a huge impact on the environment such as tree planting workshops and beach clean-ups.

You would certainly be making a difference by taking sometime out to participate in such earth friendly activities.

7. Goodbye To Technology…Temporarily

Source: Fermin Rodriguez Penelas, Unsplash

At least temporarily! Notice how everyone is always on their phones these days? It’s like we can’t do without technology but eco hotels offer eco friendly facilities. They ensure you enjoy your vacation by connecting you to nature and the local community. Some hotels allow animals to move around freely and safely. This will definitely be one vacation you will remember for a very long time!

Questions To Ask Before Making a Booking

If it is not clear to you that a particular hotel you wish to stay is actually an eco hotel, it just means that you would need to do some homework. The rate at which travelers care about environmental issues vary. But sustainable travel means you are willing and ready to ask and you are ready to do your bit for the environment.

If you are unsure whether a hotel is actually “green” and the hotel is also not part of a certification program that is recognized, you may need to find answers to the following questions before making a hotel booking:

*Is water conservation a priority?

*In what way is the hotel cutting down on energy use?

*Does the hotel have well-defined waste and recycling programs in place? Do they have a reuse policy in place or is everything going to landfill?

*Does the hotel support its local community?

A Hotel Has A Green Certification – What Does That Even Mean?

The truth is that the demand for green services will continue growing as travelers become even more sensitive to issues that has to do with the environment. There is a lot of pressure on some industries to go green and cut down on pollution.

Green certifications are a great step hotels can take to show their commitment to the environment. Three well recognized certification programs for hotels include green seal, LEED, and green key.

Green Seal

Green seal provides a stamp of approval for products and services and their certification is based on excellent performance, environmental and health criteria. The green seal is an eco label used by service providers and product manufacturers. In order to achieve certification, products and services must meet the Green seal standards requirements.


A recognized certification that is beneficial for hotels is the LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is an internationally recognized green building certification developed by the United States Green Building Council. LEED is beneficial to the environment through energy efficient operations.

Green Key

Green Key is an international environmental certification body designed for hotel and the meetings industry. They offer programs and resources that help these industries reduce their carbon footprint, save money and increase occupancy.

3 Reasons Why Hotels Are Going Green

Hotels are now going green for the following reasons:

1. If hotels go green, they save money in the long run

A great way for hotels to reduce their energy bills is by replacing incandescent bulbs with high efficiency bulbs that will last longer.

Now here is a good example, a standard incandescent bulb uses 60 watts of power while an LED light might use as little as 10 watts to generate the same amount of light. Now wait for this, LED light bulbs also last 50,000 hours which is approximately 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb.

Water saving laundry systems also help conserve costs associated with energy use. Solar panels will also help cut down on energy use and is also better for the environment.

Automated systems that help shut down electronics when guests are not present in their rooms will also help cut down on energy use.

2. Many travelers are looking for eco-friendly hotels to stay

A lot of us want to do our part by protecting the environment and a good way to do this is by staying in an eco hotel. A huge motivator for Millennial (those born between 1981 and 1996) is eco friendliness and since they are passionate about environmental protection they want to patronize eco hotels.

Hotels should see this as a huge opportunity because greening their properties will not only make their properties look good but will also result in more customers and also huge savings!

Hotels that have green certification will stand out among others who are not certified. Eco-conscious guests will be drawn to such properties.

Going green definitely will definitely result in more business opportunities because it will attract a new group of population that such a hotel may have never had access to; resulting in more growth for your business.

3. Environmental regulations

Just like I mentioned earlier, as the demand for eco friendly services keep rising, policymakers will take note of this and therefore new laws will be passed to reduce pollution. Take for example, there are now laws for businesses in New York City in regard to waste and recycling. There are also fines for those who do not comply!

When hotels “green” their systems by adopting green technologies, they set themselves up for success because it means they are prepared for any new regulations or laws that may come in the near future.

Are Green Hotels Expensive?

The perception also is that eco-friendly hotels are dull, boring hotels and not regarded as “luxurious” and yet expensive. This is not true. An eco hotel is a property that follows sustainable living practices. We want to ensure we reduce our reliance on earth’s resources. So it makes a lot of sense for hotels to conduct activities in ways that will not hurt the environment.

The fact that a hotel is located in the jungle does not necessarily mean that they are an eco friendly hotel. So make sure to contact the hotel before making a booking and ask them questions, just like the ones I shared with you above. At the end of your stay you can also make some suggestions if you think there were some things that were missing.

There are so many factors that come into play when looking at sustainability and hotels. Some hotels will have to take little steps at a time. Hotels rely on their suppliers for materials. Some may have to wait for prices to go down before they can make some changes.

The Bottom Line

Conventional hotels consume natural resources at a high rate and more than ever, people are also now searching terms such as “what is an eco hotel”, “eco hotel meaning”, or how to travel sustainably, in order to make greener choices. This just shows that there’s a huge opportunity for hotels to green their practices for the benefit of the environment.

The truth is that hotels that have best practices and also certifications stand out from other hotels and also attract travelers that are environmentally conscious.

It is therefore important for conventional hotels to start making changes and adopting green practices that will impact the environment positively.

Guests should be able to notice all the characteristics listed above when they stay at a green hotel and ultimately they should be able to take what they have learnt back with them once their vacation comes to an end.

In an attempt to fight climate change, hotels need to reduce their carbon emissions, address single use plastics, promote sustainable building design and also increase the use of renewable energy.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any comments, please leave them below.


Featured image credit: Sara Dubler, Unsplash

4 thoughts on “What is an Eco Hotel and How To Tell If It Truly Is Eco-friendly”

  1. I did not know that there was such a thing as an eco hotel until today. All hotels should actually be like this. They are looking out for the environment while ensuring that their customers are satisfied. Very smart. I absolutely love your website! You do not get much websites that care about the environment like yours. 

    • Hi Daniel. All hotels should be ecofriendly. There really is no excuse for a hotel not to be these days. Resources have to be preserved. They have to cut down on emissions by ensuring their buildings, operations and practices are sustainable. Even guests can learn a thing or two from ecofriendly hotels by making ecofriendly choices in their own lives. Thanks so much for leaving a comment.

  2. One of the greatest problems I have faced when it comes to traveling is finding a hotel that is truly ecofriendly. The title  “what is an eco hotel and how to tell if it truly is eco-friendly was what captured my attention. Staying in a hotel that is environmentally friendly will help reduce pollution around the area. All hotels should be ecofriendly and this article clearly explains what this really means. Thanks.

    • Hi Charles. Thanks for leaving a comment. Staying in an eco hotel is the least we can do for our planet when we travel. Eco hotels also teach us how to preserve our environment by conserving water and reducing waste.


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