by Katherine J. Chen
Published on April 15th, 2010
From the outside, the Heritance Kandalama in Sri Lanka may look like an abandoned temple run over by weeds and vegetation, but the luxury hotel is actually one of the most eco-friendly resorts in the entire world.
The wild vines, shrubs and plants that cover the hotel’s windows, balconies and roofs ensure that rainwater is able to flow from the hills to the hotel reservoir located just below.
Given the hotel’s abandoned appearance, the location also serves as an attraction to toque macaques and hundreds of species of birds.
The fact that the Heritance Kandalama is eco-friendly is one detail which is proving to be more important than ever for travelers. Expedia, an online travel website that processes thousands of flight and hotel reservations daily, has made plans to add a brand new feature to its hotel listings called Green Lodging Certifications.
This will enable tourists to compare and contrast competing hotels’ green practices, in addition to teaching travelers how they can incorporate green living into their vacation plans.
“Today’s travelers are increasingly interested in gauging the environmental practices of hotels and other travel suppliers,” says Expedia’s Janice Lichtenwaldt. “To that end, Expedia has elected to increase the green resources available to our customers, as well as the green recognition available to our partner hotels.”
In partnership with Green Key, an agency that specializes in ranking and auditing hotels based on the effectiveness of their eco-friendly practices, Expedia will also be creating an additional resource for eco-conscious tourists called the “Traveler’s Guide to Going Green.”
Kit Cassingham, the founder of Best Green Hotels, explains that what sets green hotels apart from conventional hotels is a genuine concern for the environment. She says, “Green hotels act on their concern by conserving and protecting resources while conventional hotels act as if there is no problem.”
Best Green Hotels, one of the most comprehensive listings of environmentally friendly hotels online, features its own rating system, a term glossary and directories divided by city, state and country.
Cassingham believes that an association for green hotels is necessary for two reasons. The first is to give travelers an accessible resource through which they can easily research and find green hotels. The second is to provide hoteliers with a place where they can learn more about incorporating green practices into their resorts, while getting the support they need.
Cassingham is optimistic about the future of eco-friendly hotels and does not believe that this is only a trend. She says of Best Green Hotels, “The site is about five-years-old. I was thrilled to have 750 green hotels listed within a few months, but I also figured I had only scratched the surface of finding hotels that had green operations.”
“Between more hotels and hotel chains adopting green and sustainable practices and hotels promoting what their actions are online, we are pushing 5,000 listed properties,” she adds. “That speaks to me of a growing sector of eco-friendly hotels.”
Media Release – 16 April 2010