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Green is the color of choice these days as more and more travelers look for eco-friendly hotels in Hawaii and around the world. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, a whopping two-thirds of the respondents said they often or always base their vacation hotel, dining and transportation decisions largely on what’s best for their natural surroundings.
Keenly aware of this trend, many Hawaii resorts are raising their environmental awareness in order to protect the islands’ fragile ecosystem, which hosts seven million visitors annually. From recycling and towel re-use to solar panels and sustainable cuisine, hotels are focusing on conserving and enhancing the resources of the isolated island chain for future residents and visitors.
While clients can find eco-friendly accommodations on all the major islands, here’s a sampling of hotels that are doing a particularly good job of living in harmony with the landscape.
Andaz Maui at WaileaOpening in late summer 2013, the 290-room Andaz Maui at Wailea is being built as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified resort. Brainchild of the architecture firm Rockwell Group, the 15-acre oceanfront resort in southwest Maui is taking a design approach that reduces energy and water consumption, minimizes waste and harmful emissions and stresses sustainable design as an integral component of its overall strategy. Among its efforts is a locally sourced food and beverage program. Upon opening, Andaz Maui at Wailea is promising to bring a new level of environmental consciousness to Hawaii.www.hyatt.com
Aulani, a Disney Resort and SpaThis two-year-old family favorite recently obtained LEED Silver certification for implementing environmentally friendly construction practices and building systems. It passed a checklist of sustainability points including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and awareness and education. For instance, it harvests the heat emitted from its large chillers — used to keep the buildings cool — and diverts it to heat the whirlpool spas and swimming pools. It also provides 34 electric car charging stations for plug-in vehicles within Aulani’s parking structure. Even its location is eco-friendly, as no trees were cleared in order to create the west Oahu resort.disney.go.com
Fairmont Kea Lani, MauiAmong Fairmont Kea Lani’s dozens of sustainability initiatives is its High Five Redemption Program, where it donates recyclables to a local non-profit organization, which then redeems the items for cash. An advanced water system lets the resort serve its own purified sparkling and still water in reusable glass bottles. Other initiatives include a laundry water recycling system; state-of-the-art thermostats in all guestrooms; sustainable cuisine; a rock salt treating system in the swimming pools instead of chlorine; and a shopping program where each eco-friendly item at the Fairmont Store is marked with a biodegradable Turtle Tag.www.fairmont.com
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and SpaThe south Kauai resort has won many awards for its environmental initiatives. Its vast solar photovoltaic system produces 465,000 kilowatt hours per year of clean renewable energy, resulting in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. It reuses 100 percent of its green waste and recycles whenever possible, from its soft robes made out of recycled plastic bottles to the recycle bins in its guestrooms. Water dispensers are located next to the hotel’s ice machines for refilling water bottles, and guests can choose whether or not to have linens refreshed daily — an effort that saves 500,000 gallons of water per year. The resort was also the site of the first level-three electric vehicle fast charger in Hawaii.www.kauai.hyatt.com
Kauai Beach ResortA member of Aqua Hotels and Resorts, this east Kauai hotel recently initiated a series of admirably green programs. More than 2,400 solar panels now cover the entire parking lot, resulting in improved energy efficiency as well as covered parking for guests. The resort recently converted its four swimming pools from chlorine to an automated saline system that uses an iodizer to make natural chlorine from salt. Kauai Beach Resort launched an effective recycling program in May, and it redeems recyclables each month with proceeds benefiting hotel-sponsored non-profit organizations such as Kauai United Way, Food Bank and Visitor Industry Charity Walk.www.kauaibeachresorthawaii.com
Mauna Lani ResortThis Hawaii Island resort has been recognized as one of the world’s top luxury, eco-friendly beach destinations. As of June 2012, it had generated 1,052,250 kilowatt hours of green power. Resort officials estimate that over the 25-year lifetime of its photovoltaic system, its solar-generated electricity will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by almost 12,000 tons. Meanwhile, Mauna Lani’s catering team has created a menu of thoughtful inclusions for meetings and events. Its uniquely sustainable Epicurean 808 menu incorporates products harvested within a radius of 100 miles of the property, making this one of the truly notable eco-friendly hotels in Hawaii.www.maunalani.com