Thursday, 11 September 2008

Spotlight on… Chez Sven, USA

Chez Sven is located on beautiful Cape Cod, in one of Wellfleet’s oldest houses, which Sandy’s parents purchased in 1970. Sandy and Sven turned it into a bed & breakfast five years ago when they moved from Europe to care for her elderly mom.
Sven, a retired Lyceé International history teacher, found a 1798 Liberty Coin under the floor during renovation. A little more digging and they discovered that in around 1750, their old Cape Codder was moved to its present location on Old King’s Highway, a scenic dirt road used by George III’s tax collectors. It is still possible to imagine what the area looked like before the American Revolution.

Guests can book rooms in the main house or in Seagull Cottage (with its own kitchen), set back in the woods. The main house dates to a similar period as the Atwood-Higgins house, a top attraction in the Cape Cod National Seashore nearby.

In renovating the northern wing of Chez Sven last winter, the innkeepers paid particular attention to detail, making the new space as authentic and as green as possible. Old 12-inch wide pine boards were recycled in the kitchen, as were most of the doors and hardware. One exception is the lovely private bath, hard to imagine back in the 1700s when the owners used a two-seater outhouse.

Guests at Chez Sven can count on eco-friendly towels and 100% organic cotton sheets, washed in a low-energy front-loader and air-dried in spring, summer and fall. Sandy and Sven offer natural amenities and use only green cleaning products. The couple love to share books and magazines from the environmental shelf in their international library. They serve as much organic food as possible, including homemade granola and yogurt, and provide water that has passed through 3-stage PUR filters. No plastic bottles here, although the innkeepers recycle any that turn up in the trash.

62% of Wellfleet is within the boundaries of a national park created by President Kennedy in 1963. This unique situation means there are miles of pristine forest to discover and many deserted beaches to explore. Wellfleet’s ponds and marshes are perfect for kayaking. From Chez Sven, it is possible to hike or bike to the beach or into town. It is a short walk to the popular Wicked Oyster restaurant, open year-round.

“Consider the capacity of the destination,” Ayako Ezaki, director of communication at the International Ecotourism Society, said recently when discussing choices available to eco-tourists. The town of Wellfleet has actually been far too successful in promoting itself over the years. The winter population of 3000 swells to 25000 in July and August. Sandy and Sven encourage ecotourists to come in fall, after the summer rush is over. The town’s folk are so much friendlier without the crowds!

Like oysters? The other main industry here is shellfishing, and Wellfleet celebrates Oysterfest in October. It is possible to go out on the flats, along side locals, and bring home a bucket of shellfish. Sandy recently volunteered to edit a book on the history of shellfishing, which will be sold at Oysterfest to benefit the local historical society.

For more information on Chez Sven and details of the special offer for September 2008, visit:

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Eco-luxury villas in Costa Rica!

The eco-luxury suites and villas of Cascadas Farallas Waterfall Villas have been designed using green hotel practices and Feng Shui. The Balinese style village is made up of 3 villas, each of which can be split into 2 suites.
The villas are secluded by rainforest - dense, lush and exotic with a wealth of rare plants and animals that are unique to a waterfall environment.

Cascadas Farallas is 3 miles on paved road from Dominical’s famous surf beach, secluded by rainforest, but close to shops and a wide variety restaurants. The exotic southern pacific beaches extend all the way to the Osa peninsula and are within easy reach by paved highway.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

ecobookers 1st birthday!!

This month marks the one year anniversary of It's been a busy first year, and a fun one, so we’d like to take a little time to reflect on the past 12 months and ask you what you’d like to see in the coming year!

August 2007 – officially launches with approximately 50 eco-friendly accommodations around the world, including eco-friendly hotels, ecolodges and treehouses. Each accommodation has been hand-picked for its eco-policies.

September 2007 – The ecobookers homepage is revamped to include pages with ideas for eco-couples, eco-luxury, eco-city, eco on a budget and eco-family travel.

October 2007 – ecobookers forms partnerships with ecotricity, Nigel’s eco store and Earth & Wear so that our lovely customers can get discounts from these great eco-friendly companies!

November and December 2007 – ecobookers’ Nikki Ashton is invited to write articles for eco-friendly blogs such as Amaze Magazine and Green Girls Global and lots of new eco-friendly additions are made to the ecobookers site.

January 2008 – With more accommodation being added all the time, ecobookers now has 100 eco-friendly hotels and ecolodges, all hand-selected for their wide range of eco-policies.

February – April 2008 – The ecobookers site continues to grow and we start work preparing for an exciting new show called UK Aware, which aims to show how easy it is to make your life more eco-friendly.

May 2008 – ecobookers exhibit at their first ever show – UK Aware – giving us the chance to meet lots of you lovely eco-friendly types! ecobookers is also featured as ‘Cream of Green’ in the Guardian!

June and July 2008 – We start work on a makeover for, whilst continuing our search for eco-friendly gems.

August 2008 – turns 1 year old and our sparkly new re-design is launched with improved functionality.

As you can see it’s been a busy, and fun, first year and we have more than doubled in size over that time. We plan to keep growing over the next year, so if you have any ideas of what you’d like to see on the ecobookers site, please drop us a line to let us know! Your feedback is always welcome!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Eco-friendly hotel in Italy

Today sees the addition of Hotel Jolie in Riccione, Italy, to the ecobookers site. This small, family-run hotel, which has been awarded the EU Eco Label, is set in a lively tourist resort. Located on Avenue Dante - one of the busiest streets of the area - shops and night spots are close at hand and the beach, one of the main draws of the area, is just 100 metres away. Riccione is also surrounded by a large hinterland made up of open green spaces, stunning scenery and fascinating castles.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Eco resorts in the Philippines

If you’d like to be based in the midst of a beautiful natural environment without foregoing some holiday pampering, then look no further than these 2 resorts in the Philippines – Lagen Island Resort and Miniloc Island Resort – both in El Nido.

Both resorts are set in coves against a backdrop of limestone cliffs. The area provides a wealth of opportunities for wildlife observation and sightings and there are plenty of activities on offer such as rock climbing, snorkelling, diving, trekking and kayaking. There are a range of accommodation styles to choose from and both resorts have an impressive range of eco-policies. In particular, the resorts are focused on conservation of the spectacular natural environment and improving the standard of life of people of the local area.

Monday, 4 August 2008

New Eco Camp in Andalucia, Spain

Today sees the addition of a new eco camp to the ecobookers site, the Nomad Eco Camp in Villanueva de Tapia, Andalucia, Spain.

Set on 10km of land at 650m altitude, Nomad Eco Camp is surrounded by wonderful landscape of fields and mountains. The biggest lake in Andalucia, Iznajar, is just 15 minutes away and has a beach that is ideal for children.

The camp offers a range of accommodation including a studio apartment, yurts and camping.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Site re-design

It's been a while since I last wrote and the reason for that is I've been fully caught up getting the ecobookers re-design ready. The re-design is now live on the site and we hope you'll agree that it's a great improvement on the old site.

If you get a chance please do take a look - - and tell us what you think! After looking at the new pages every day for days now, feedback from people seeing the site for the first time would be most welcome!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Artha, Not Your Average B&B!

One of the unique eco-friendly B&Bs featured on the ecobookers site - Artha - tell us how it all began...

Artha Sustainable Living Center, USA, has just achieved the highest certification rating with the ‘Travel Green Wisconsin’ program, a program designed to protect the beauty and vitality of Wisconsin’s landscape. Here they tell us what led them to start this unique B&B.

“Artha is not only a Bed and Breakfast, but also an education center. Bob Ramlow bought the farm in 1975 with the goal to live off the land. This idea attracted many to come and learn. During this time period Bob learned about solar and made this his life’s passion.

Bob and Marguerite’s dream was to build a zero energy home showcasing sustainable building practices and materials. As a trial run for their new home a studio was built in the second story of the barn, utilising straw bale construction and radiant floors. This studio is now used for yoga classes and workshops, an amazing space!

They then took the plunge and built a new home, also utilising straw bale construction with a high mass solar thermal heating system. The home was built with all local labour, hand making all of the doors, cabinets and floors from sustainably grown and harvested wood from the Menomonee forest here in Wisconsin. Linseed oil was used on the wood and milk paint for the ceilings.

The question then was what to do with the old home. During this time both children, Leif and Chamomile, had moved back to Wisconsin, along with Chamomile’s husband Benjamin. The family decided to start a business based on the idea that they all loved to teach and wanted to create a centre where people not only learned in a classroom setting, but also by example. The old home was turned into a B&B so those who came to take workshops would have a place to stay, and those wishing to see how and if renewable energy really worked could stay in a home run by the sun.

Bob teaches about solar thermal energy not only here at Artha, but all over the United states and is the author, along with his son-in-law Benjamin, of the book Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating. Benjamin does some teaching, but is Artha’s primary solar thermal consultant, designing systems for homeowners and business all over the world. Marguerite teaches weekly yoga classes along with workshops on organic gardening, herbs and yoga retreats. Marguerite and Chamomile maintain the B&B and make delicious vegetarian breakfasts, utilising local organic produce and dairy products. Syrup for pancakes and waffles is made from the sugar maples that grow on the 90 acres here at Artha. Leif maintains the grounds and gardens, making Artha a beautiful place to visit. The family has found great joy in working together on things they truly care about.

Artha is a place that strives to exist in harmony with the environment. We here at Artha hope to lead by example and we offer our experiences and expertise to those who wish to learn from us. Please come and visit, you might just leave with some inspiration!”

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Eco tips for your Summer getaway

If you’re reading this blog it is highly likely that you enjoy travelling to new destinations, experiencing the local culture and marvelling at the natural beauty, but that you want to do all of these things in a way that doesn’t have an adverse affect on the local environment or culture.

Booking your holiday at an eco-friendly accommodation is a great way to start, but they can’t do all the work for you! Here we look at a few measures you can take before you set-off on your travels, and during your time at your destination, to make your holiday as eco-friendly as possible:

Before you go
Once you’ve decided on your destination and sorted out your flights, there are a few things you can think about and prepare for before you go.

Firstly, you can research the cultural does and don’ts of the local population. For example, in some countries it is rude to point at things with your feet, to touch people on the head or to drink alcohol. By researching things such as this before you go, you can be respectful of people and their culture when you arrive.

Dress code is also an important factor – if you are travelling to a country where it is disrespectful to show certain parts of the body, it’s best to know this before you go so that you can pack accordingly.

Learning a few words of the local language before you go will help you to interact with the local people.

You may also want to look into local methods of transportation so that you can transfer to your accommodation and travel around the country both conveniently and responsibly e.g. take public transport instead of a private taxi to reduce carbon emissions.

If you plan on taking tours during your holiday you could research local companies who use local guides and try to protect the environment, rather than booking trips with companies who give nothing back to the local communities.

And of course, you can use to find an eco-friendly accommodation and review its policies, ensuring it meets your criteria!

While you’re there
When you arrive at your destination, the important thing is to make a positive rather than a negative impact by being culturally and environmentally aware.

Cultural considerations
You could find yourself in a very different situation to that which you are used to back home, but you must remember that this is normal life to the people who live it, so be open-minded.

Traditions, culture, religious beliefs, clothing and food may all be very different to what you are used to but be respectful. Respect people’s wishes and ask before you take photographs. Try getting to know people - you may learn something about their way of life and they may be able to give you insider info on where to go and what to do that you won’t find in the guidebooks!

When you are buying goods, using services such as tour guides or eating in restaurants, try to spend money that will benefit the local communities.

Giving money to people begging is not usually encouraged as it does not promote self-sufficiency, although this is down to your own ethical beliefs. However, if you do want to give something back in a more sustainable way, some of the accommodations featured on the ecobookers website are involved in projects where you can volunteer and others will be able to give you advice on how you can help.

Environmental considerations
The majority of eco-accommodations have processes in place to recycle, conserve energy and water and to limit damaging waste. You can help them along by using water and energy as efficiently as possible e.g. don’t leave taps running or lights on unnecessarily, by taking shampoos etc. with you that are bio-degradable, by never littering and by recycling anything you can (if there are no facilities for recycling certain products e.g. plastic bottles, where you are, take these home with you to recycle).
So that you don’t upset the natural balance or cause erosion, stick to marked trails (both when walking and driving) and don’t take any souvenirs from along the way.

Also, don’t buy anything that has come from an endangered animal species, or a protected species of plant and don’t support shows where animals are used for entertainment.

These are just a few ideas to help you to be a responsible traveller, which will not only benefit the area you are visiting, but which will also help you to get the most out of your experience. Enjoy your trip!

Monday, 30 June 2008

eco-friendly hostel in Barcelona

Our latest addition to the ecobookers site is vibrant eco-friendly hostel Barcelona Urbany. Set in a central location in Barcelona, the hostel is within easy reach of the main tourist attractions of this popular city.

Located in a modern, eco-friendly building, the hostel boasts facilities you would expect in a hotel including free internet access in the lobby, WiFi in the rooms, free use of the hostel's partner fitness club facilities (with swimming pool), a bar restaurant and a terrace.

Beds in dorms of four to eight are available, in addition to single and twin rooms.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

eco lodges in India

Today sees the addition of 2 sister hotels to the ecobookers, both located in India.

The first, Elephant Valley Eco Farm hotel, is located in an area of the Western Ghats which one of the 25 bio-diversity hotspots of the planet, making this a great place to spot elephants, bison, leopards and a host of other wildlife. You can also enjoy the river and its natural pools which lead to spectacular waterfalls.

Accommodation consists of tent houses, offering homely comfort in the midst of the wilderness, and cottages, equipped with colonial and art deco furniture and each with its own garden overlooking the Gangavaar River and the coffee plantation.

Sister hotel, Dune Eco Beach Hotel, is located 15kms from the heart of Pondicherry. At this eco-friendly village you will find individually decorated houses and bungalows discreetly hidden over 30 acres and 700m of beach front.

From here you can explore Pondicherry (15km), an ex-French colony with quaint colonial houses and numerous restaurants, Auroville (8km), an experimental township sustaining a unique community and Gingee, an ancient fort set amongst a landscape of granite chaos.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Surf ecolodge in Nicaragua!

Today sees the addition of a fab new ecolodge in Nicaragua, which, as the name suggests, is great for surfing, but which is also great for families and anyone else who wants to relax and explore in great surroundings! Los Cardones Surf Lodge, on the Pacific Coast, has 6 beachside bungalows spread out along with coast, each with a bathroom, terrace, hammock and lounge chairs. A spacious beach restaurant offers delicious food and plenty of hammocks for relaxing under typical ranchos!

Friday, 6 June 2008

eco-friendly hotel in Italy

Today we have added another eco-friendly hotel in Europe to the ecobookers range - the Elda Eco Ambient Hotel in the Ledro Valley.

Situated in a green and peaceful oasis, this is the ideal place to spend your holiday far from the stress of the daily life and immersed in total relaxation. The Ledro Valley is stunning with its crystalline lake set against a panoramic backdrop of mountains. Many people visit here for beautiful mountain bike excursions and evocative beaches with sailing, fishing and walking.

Rooms are elegant and equipped with modern comforts, the wine bar is stocked with choice wines and there is a Beauty Centre where you can relax and regenerate.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

If you’re looking for a truly cultural experience, we've just added a new ecolodge in Morocco – the Roses Camp. Located at the heart of the South Atlas mountain range, the Roses Camp is a real escape into the Berber culture, set in the heart of Taberkhachte village gardens and surrounded by old earth Kasbahs. Its caïdal tents, traditionally used by ancient tribal leaders, have been adapted to modern needs. Run by local staff and a French supervisor, inhabitants will help you in discovering the richness of this region, the diversity of its nature and the hospitality of its people.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

eco-chic Inn in Bangkok!

Today sees the addition of our first eco-friendly accommodation in Bangkok, Thailand, the boutique Old Bangkok Inn.

Situated on Rajadamnern Avenue in the heart of Bangkok’s old quarters, the hotel's entrance is at the starting line of Bangkok’s most historical thoroughfare.

Family run and operated, the property where the Old Bangkok Inn sits was originally a palace bestowed by King Chulalongkom (Rama V) and has been in the family's care for seven generations.

Furnished with Thai golden teak, each bedroom in this historic building has been individually restored to create its own special atmosphere, combining traditional elegance with modern amenities. The four guest rooms, four loft rooms and two suites (ten rooms in total) are named and decorated with Thai floral themes: Rice, Lemon Grass, Jasmine, Orchid, Rose and Lotus. Each room is individually and tastefully appointed with heirloom furniture and many are decorated with porcelain hand-painted by the inn's owner herself.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

eco-lodge in Costa Rica and eco-friendly gites in France!

Today sees the addition of two new accommodations to the ecobookers site.

First up is the Danta Corcovado Lodge in Costa Rica. This ecolodge is a local family business that aspires to be a leader and set an example of ecological design, creativity, conservation and sustainability.
Located on the Osa Peninsula, 8km from the Los Patos section of the Corcovado National Park, the Lodge is also the closest place to the Guayami Indigenous Reserve.

With its warm and creative accommodation this lodge is sure to please all types of travellers and is an ideal location from which to explore the attractions of the area.

Next we have Artemis en Provence in Roussillon, France. This accommodation consists of 2 eco-friendly gites, offering a setting from which to explore many chapters of provencal heritage.

When you're not out exploring the area, there is a 12x5m pool for your enjoyment or you could sit out on your terrace for breakfast or drinks or read or snooze under the shade of 100-year old oak trees.

Monday, 12 May 2008

UK Aware and ecobookers in the press!

The end of the weekend saw the end of ecobookers first show - UK Aware.

After months of planning (and a bit of fear I have to admit!) we spent the weekend in London at the Barbican and had a great time meeting all sorts of eco-aware people visiting the show. We had some fantastic images of beautiful eco-friendly hotels and ecolodges on display which seemed to grab lots of people's imaginations.

All in all it was a great success, thanks in main to my wonderful team of volunteers spent the days getting the ecobookers message out there.

Coinciding with the show we also had a mention in the Guardian on Saturday morning - you can check it out here:

Now the show's over we'll be back to getting lots more eco-friendly hotels and lodges onto the site!

Monday, 5 May 2008

eco-friendly holiday cottage in Hungary

Today sees the first accommodation in Hungary to be featured on the ecobookers site.

Juniper Cottage, Tornaszentandrás, is located on the edge of the Aggtelek National Park in the hills of north-east Hungary.

This eco-friendly cottage is a traditional Hungarian country dwelling situated on the edge of the national park. The guesthouse is your very own place in the country, ideal for self-catering breaks with two bedrooms sleeping a maximum of six people.

This eco-friendly holiday cottage aims to have the smallest impact possible on the environment by using home-grown vegetables, organic products and alternative energy sources.

The park itself is a protected area of 20,000 hectares characterised by rolling hills of up to 600-metre altitudes, more than three-quarters of which are forested. It is renowned for its network of caves, which stretch over the border into Slovakia and give the surrounding landscape its diversity, with rolling hills, springs, sinkholes and broad valleys. There is an abundance of wildlife to discover here, from indigenous wildflowers to butterflies and bird life. In recent decades, small populations of wolf and lynx have re-emerged, yet remain rarer still than the region’s elusive wild boars.

For its unique topography and biodiversity, the area is both a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Going eco in the USA!

Over 30 years ago, Bill Castle and his family began a project to build a log cabin. They now run Pollywogg Holler – a unique eco lodge set in 56,000 acres of New York State forest land in the USA. Here Bill tells us how it all began:

“Back in 1976 my wife and I, along with our three small children, embarked on a project to enter the forest with hand tools and build a log cabin. This was a weekend project and primarily a family project. We wanted to experience the true pioneer experience, at least on weekends. In no time at all we became very sympathetic with nature and started to strive to live in harmony with our new natural neighbours.

While travelling in Costa Rica back in 1987 we kept hearing about Eco-tourism. We started going to meetings and looking at what other people were doing. It was around this period that we decided that if they could run an eco lodge there, why couldn't we do it back in New York State.

As owners of an eco-resort we are all about Eco-Friendly. If you are running an Eco-Resort you are under the magnifying glass, so just being casual Eco friendly isn’t enough - you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. We have felt for a long time that we are setting the standards for Eco-Tourism and we will continue to improve on what we already have in place.

Since opening the Eco Lodge, we have had countless people come to Pollywogg Holler with the purpose of seeing how we do it. We have also consulted with many people who have been here and attempted to do their own thing, in various parts of the world.

If you’re looking to become more eco-friendly yourself, probably the best way is to start by camping. Then, when you are comfortable with this, try living in a tent in a wilderness setting for an extended period of time. I am a firm believer in research, what ever your interest is, research, research and research some more. Read about it every day, subscribe to back-to-the-land magazines and read up on every faze of living next to/with nature.”

Read more about this unique eco-friendly resort here!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Eco-friendly hotel in Scotland

Today sees the launch of our first eco-friendly hotel in Scotland on the ecobookers site - the Lovat Arms Hotel, Loch Ness. This landmark Victorian hotel overlooks the loch side village of Fort Augustus, in the center of the Scottish Highlands, and is surrounded by stunning scenery as it sits at the southern tip of the mysterious deep waters of Loch Ness.

Lovat Arms is an environmentally-friendly hotel with a character and class of its own. Its grace and charm is complimented by natural décor, modernism and a genuine, warm hospitality offered by a devoted and passionate team.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

ecobookers at London Aware 08

If you’re free on the 10th or 11th May and would like to pop in and see us at UK Aware, drop us an email to – the first 10 emails will receive a free ticket for 2 to the show!

ecobookers at UK Aware plus FREE Tickets!!!

On the 10th and 11th May 2008 London will see the very first UK AWARE – a new event which aims to inspire us with ideas on how to live an eco-friendly life. ecobookers will be there and because we’d love to see you there too, we have some free tickets on offer!

UK AWARE is a social enterprise with a conscience and a mission. The founders of this new eco-friendly event are not scientists, activists or radicals, just normal people wanting to help everyone to make a real and necessary difference.

Realising that to really fight climate change we need to make the right choices the easiest ones, the aim of this show is to help everyone to live and work more sustainably, without needing to sacrifice lifestyle or comfort. The products and services being showcased help to do that.

There will be a wide range of exhibits to visit, including food and drink, clothing, house and home, leisure and transport.

As an eco-friendly accommodation service, we at ecobookers are very excited to be exhibiting at UK AWARE and we’d love to see you there! So, if you’re free on the 10th or 11th May and would like to pop in and see us, drop us an email to – the first 10 emails will receive a free ticket for 2 to the show!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

New eco-friendly accommodation in Australia

Today sees the addition of an eco-friendly resort in North Queensland, Australia. Hidden Valley Cabins are located one and a half hours north-west of Townsville, near Running River on the western slope of the Paluma range in Queensland, Australia. The Cabins are in an ideal location for a relaxing holiday to recharge your batteries and experience the Australian outback tranquility.

The cabins have a rustic urban feel with all the comforts of home and all of the furniture located in the rooms has been hand-crafted from local red mahogany timber. No bricks or steel structures, no high-rise buildings, just the fresh cool mountain air. This is the way a holiday was meant to be. There are six modern rustic cabins with en-suites and four homestead rooms with a share bathroom.

Due to the mountain elevation the climate is cooler and less humid than areas close to the coast. Hidden Valley Cabins offer a peaceful, comfortable holiday in an "off the beaten track" environment. The area is abundant with varying species of birds, butterflies, wallabies, Lace Monitors, platypus, nocturnal animals such as gliders and much more. Hidden Valley Cabins is a great area for bird watching and wildlife enthusiasts, there are also regular sightings of Platypus in the nearby Running River.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

New ecolodge in Dominica!

Today sees the addition of Rosalie Forest Ecolodge, Dominica, to the ecobookers site.
This new ecolodge is located directly adjacent to its sister-hotel, Green-Globe certified 3 Rivers Ecolodge. Located on the edge of the rainforest, about a mile away from the main road, the Lodge is an extremely quiet and peaceful place in a lush green valley, surrounded by nature and rivers, in unspoiled eastern Dominica.

Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge offers a range of rustically comfortable cabins and tree houses, as well as full camping and dormitory facilities.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

eco-hotel of the month

This month Shireen and Barbara, Innkeepers at Hotel Mocking Bird Hill in Jamaica, explain their motivation to set up an eco-friendly hotel and talk about their future plans:

Since opening almost 14 years ago, Hotel Mocking Bird Hill has gained credibility as a leader in sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean. Twice Green Globe certified we are often asked why observing sustainable practices is important to us and what do we undertake to claim we are environmentally friendly.

One of the motivating reasons is that we have grown up in developing and then, later, in first world countries and seen the disparities between the two, as well as the negative impacts of so called “development”. This has influenced us a great deal. We have seen how communities were without water while the water available was directed to the large luxury resorts. We also lived in Germany for a long time and were very active in the “Green” movement in the late 70’s and early 80’s. We actively separated our waste, discarded unnecessary packaging at the supermarket counters, joined a group of friends who would collectively buy local seasonal food from the farmer and take it in turns to drive out there and pick it up for the group.

People living in abject poverty usually do not have the luxury to care about natural resources, as they worry instead about their next meal and obtaining their most basic needs. In the worst cases, their destitution leads to destruction of their environment. At the same time, however, our ability to create wealth and the economic resources that might enable those people to escape poverty will require that we use our natural resources as wisely as possible. Hence we have the doubly challenging task of making prudent use of land, air, water, forests and oceans while trying to meet the demands of an increasing number of impoverished people. We recognise the critical role that tourism can play in addressing these demands and set out to therefore operate our business along sustainable guidelines and demonstrate that even small business can make a positive contribution.

We started toying with the idea of developing an intimate inn / boutique hotel along sustainable guidelines and started by touring the country to select our location. We therefore consciously sought out Port Antonio, the least developed tourist region of Jamaica and set out from the start to plan and develop our business along responsible and sustainable principles. In doing so we sought to identify actions, resources and partners necessary to encourage the provision of products and services, which enhance rather than destroy the environment and culture.

Size is an important aspect that affects operations and costs. Much of what we do is possible because the hotel is small. It would not be feasible for a large resort to dry their clothes in the sun, to do their baking in sun ovens and so on. So in such instances the smaller scale of operations is an asset. It’s like nature, which is not mass-produced. Hence, environmentally friendly operations are ideal for small hotels as it does not require enormous capital outlays and it keeps operating costs under control.

We are constantly working to increase the efficiency of our systems as this is the main area of improving our performance. We install an awning to provide shade and keep our storerooms cooler which in turn lowers the demand on the cooling units (freezers and fridges).

Rather than trying to find solutions to our problems, such as recycling the plastic, we focus on avoiding the issue from the start so that we do not have to worry about the recycling. When considering how to invest money and effort and time for the sake of environmental benefits, choosing the most effective actions, though not terribly difficult, requires a bit of thought and homework.

Our future plans include adding more solar panels and using renewable energy to operate pool and water pumps as well as for outside lighting and guttering the roof of a building which has not been guttered as yet and increasing our storage capacities for harvesting rain water.

Our best moments are when staff who left our services return saying they realise how much they appreciated working with us after they left and that they are so used to our standards that they are not happy working elsewhere and above all they recognise how much they have learnt working with us. This acknowledgement makes our work worthwhile and brings home the fact that our work is not in vain and that we are achieving our goals gradually. Of course positive guest feedback brings moments of quiet satisfaction and a motivation to continue and keep improving.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Weird and wonderful eco-friendly accommodation!

While each of the accommodations featured on the ecobookers site is unique in its own way, some are a little more unique than others! So if you’re looking for a holiday to remember this year, maybe a stay in a weird and wonderful eco-friendly hotel or ecolodge would be just the ticket… read on to discover some of the more unique eco-friendly accommodations featured on the ecobookers site:

Bintang Bolong Lodge, Gambia
Located near the small and authentic African village of Bintang, Bintang Bolong Lodge is situated in approximately 3 hectares of land on the banks of the Bintang Bolong, the largest tributary of the River Gambia. On this part of the river the tide level changes by more than 1 meter, so that at high tide well over half of the camp is flooded. For this reason, the majority of the lodgings are built on stilts amongst the Mangroves where wooden jetties provide docking facilities!
One of the main attractions of this unique hotel is the River Restaurant with its large terrace from which you can experience incomparable sunsets.

Lova Lava Land Eco Resort, Hawaii
This unique eco-friendly resort on Big Island, Hawaii, is situated about 1,500 feet above sea level, on one of the largest mountains in the world, Mauna Loa. Located on an old lava field the resort is a once-in-a-lifetime experience in off-the-grid living. The grill, shower and compost toilet are all constructed from lava rock found on the grounds of the resort and dead tree limbs have been used to build furniture. Guests staying at this resort can choose to sleep in a Mongolian Yurt or in one of two converted campervans which would otherwise have been destined for the landfill!

Pollywogg Holler, USA
Named for the serenade of frogs that fills the evening air, Pollywogg Hollër is a Great Camp-style eco-resort which combines Adirondack-style craftsmanship, solar electricity, organic gardening, and gravity fed spring water. There are a variety of lofts, lodges and shacks to choose from, but for something truly different there’s the Phantasy Dome, an amazing futuristic, geometric structure, entered through a rustic Adirondack-style entrance. An eight foot diameter floating bed is the center piece of this thirty foot diameter dome!

Puri Lumbung, Indonesia
Puri Lumbung Cottages are located in Munduk, Bali, an area famous for beautiful scenery and a variety of fascinating walks and treks. The ‘lumbung’ or rice granary is part of Bali’s unique cultural heritage. Traditionally used to store rice under the protection of the goddess Dewi Sri, lumbungs are now seldom used because farming techniques have changed.
Puri Lumbung Cottages has been created from several disused lumbungs averaging 80 years old, which have been adapted into simple but charming accommodation!

Hoopoe Yurt Hotel, Spain
The Hoopoe Yurt Hotel’s location is idyllic - set in three hectares of olives groves and unspoilt cork oak forest, and with spectacular views of the Grazalema mountains of Andalucia, in the rugged wilds of southern Spain. To make the most of the stunning scenery, guests at this eco-friendly hotel are accommodated in Mongolian Yurts, each of which has as an acre of private meadow with hammocks and comfortable shaded seating areas. Each of the four yurts is individually decorated and features pieces of traditional Mongolian furniture and exotic textiles!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

New eco-lodges and eco-friendly hotels on the ecobookers site

It's been a long time since the last post as we have been working hard on a re-design of the site. It's not quite ready yet but we're sure you'll love it when it is!

In the mean time, there are a few new properties on the ecobookers site, which are well worth taking a look at.

The first is Motswari Lodge in South Africa. As part of the Greater Kruger National Park Conservancy and traversing close to 150 square kilometres of pristine habitat, Motswari offers visitors the best of Africa; wide horizons, untamed wilderness and plentiful game in its natural habitat.
While every comfort is catered for with the finest wines, superb cuisine and understated but luxuriously appointed rooms with lovely river or savannah views, the emphasis is still on the bountiful wildlife and true wilderness experience. With almost nine hours of optional game drives, walks and informal talks every day visitors leave well informed, refreshed and inspired.

Next up is Chez Sven Bed & Breakfast in Wellfleet, Massachussets, USA. This eco-friendly B&B is centrally located on Old King’s Highway, a “scenic road,” unpaved as in colonial times. It is a quick walk to Long and Dyer Ponds or into the village (1/2 mile to Long Pond; 0.8 miles to Wellfleet center) and only 2 miles to spectacular Cahoon Hollow Beach.
Here you can discover Wellfleet at its best: traditional Cape Cod setting, newly renovated rooms, ideal location, close to ponds, ocean and town.
Chez Sven offers organic cotton sheets, 100% natural amenities, wholesome breakfast and kid-glove care.

Next, we move over to Gecko Villa in Thailand. This eco-friendly Villa is set in over 60,000sqm of private grounds, with a walled garden, fish ponds and orchards and nestles amongst the paddy fields, between three small, rural villages, in Thailand’s Isaan plateau. With its private swimming pool this stand-alone, 3 bedroom getaway is exclusively yours during your stay and is fully catered and serviced.

Finally, we have Spier Hotel in South Africa. This 155-bedroom eco-friendly hotel is built on the banks of the Eerste River and has panoramic views of the Helderberg mountains and vineyards.
The Spier Hotel provides four star comforts in a charming village-style setting with comfortable, spacious bedrooms grouped around six private courtyards and individual pools. Spier puts its focus on sustainability and, wherever possible, locally made and environmentally friendly products are used.
Spier also offers stimulating experiences, from exploring the collection of contemporary South African and African art to discovering the art in Spier’s wines. Guests can wander around the extensive grounds, landscaped with indigenous plants, or ramble along the riverbanks, watching the bird life or simply enjoy the peace.

More news of the re-design to come soon...!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Inspiration for your eco-friendly Summer break!

Now that Christmas has come and gone and the winter blues have set in, there’s no better time to start thinking about your Summer holiday! Whether you’re looking for a luxury break or travelling on a shoestring, planning a romantic getaway or a family holiday, there’s an eco-friendly hotel or eco-lodge to suit you! Below you’ll find some great ideas for different types of eco-friendly breaks:

Eco on a Budget
There is a huge variety of eco-friendly accommodation out there and there is plenty of choice even if you are on a tight budget. On the ecobookers site you will find a wide range of fabulous eco-friendly hotels and eco-lodges with rooms available for less than £20 per person per night (usually based on 2 people sharing and can be dependent on the time of year of your visit). Examples include Bintang Bolong Lodge, Gambia, where the main attraction is the River Restaurant with its large terrace from which you can experience incomparable sunsets, Shaam-e-Sarhad Rural Resort, India, offering traditional Bhungas (circular mud huts with sloping grass roofs) as accommodation or La Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, a secluded and cozy lodge with a balcony that’s great for viewing the many forest edge birds. Find more eco-budget details and ideas here.

Eco Luxury
Although the phrase 'back-to-basics' is often associated with eco-friendly hotels and eco-lodges, this isn't necessarily the case. Yes, it is possible to stay in a mud-hut and use a composting toilet, but if this isn't quite your cup of tea, that doesn't have to mean that eco-friendly travel isn't for you!
There are a number of eco-hotels and eco-lodges out there which use sustainable energy sources, take measures to reduce their consumption of natural resources, recycle much of their waste and take an active role in conservation and the community, yet will still provide you with all the creature comforts you might expect of a luxury establishment.
For example, Fundu Lagoon on Pemba Island is the epitome of shabby-chic. Stay in a spacious room suite with breath-taking views of the ocean and swim in a beautiful infinity pool. At Hotel de la Paix, Cambodia you will find guestrooms with chic interiors and contemporary furnishings whilst at Daintree EcoLodge & Spa, Australia, you could choose to stay in a Spa villa with your own private Jacuzzi on the balcony. Find more eco-luxury details and ideas here.

Eco for couples:
Just because your hosts are committed to recycling water and use worm farms to compost organic waste, doesn’t mean that romance has to go out the window! Whether you’re on your honeymoon, looking for some cozy couple time or simply want a place to stay where you won’t be surrounded by children, we have plenty of suggestions for you!
Take Guludo Beach Lodge, Mozambique, for example, where raised bedrooms, with King-size beds, sit under an expansive palm-thatched roof, opening upwards and outwards to make the most of the stunning sea views and cooling sea breeze. Or how about the comfortable luxury of Bartholomeus Klip, South Africa, where you can enjoy specially made pure cotton bedding, luxurious toiletries and towelling robes and where children under the age of 16 are not allowed at the Main House. Find more eco-couples details and ideas here.

Eco for families:
If you're looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary, it can sometimes be hard to find an accommodation that's family-friendly - so here we've done all the hard work for you!
As most eco-friendly hotels and eco-lodges are set in rural areas, it's always going to be necessary to control children, watch out for their safety and ensure that they respect the environment. However, a number of hotels and lodges have pricing policies and/or facilities which make eco-friendly family holidays that little bit easier. For example, at the Puri Lumbung Cottages, Indonesia, family cottages are available for groups of 4 or more, babysitting is available, there is a doctor on call and children aged 0-11 go free when sharing with 2 adults.
At the Villas Ecotucan, Mexico, the nearby Laguna de Bacalar is perfect for swimming or kayaking, mountain bikes are available to rent and leisure equipment is provided, such as bocci, badminton, croquet and volleyball if you’d like to play some games. Up to 2 children under 10 can stay in a cabin with 2 adults at no additional cost. Find more eco-family details and ideas here.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

eco-friendly B&B in USA

Today's new addition to the ecobookers' range of eco-friendly accommodation is Las Manos Bed & Breakfast, located on a secluded, forested 15-acre parcel of land outside of Buena Vista, Colorado.
This eco-friendly home offers luxurious amenities, delicious cooked breakfasts every morning and is surrounded by over 400 acres of beautiful pinon forest. There are a wide variety of activities and attractions nearby, such as fishing, white-water rafting, hiking, biking and horseback riding, and if after all that you need some relaxation, both owners are experienced and well-trained massage therapists!
Choose from the Sunset or Sunrise Suite.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Hickatee Cottages, Belize

Today sees the addition of another fabulous eco-friendly property to the ecobookers site.

Hickatee Cottages offers family-run, Caribbea-style cottage accommodation set in the jungle but still only one mile from Punta Gorda Town in Toledo. This is an ideal base for an adventure holiday, with great access to the World Heritage Site Sapodilla Cayes, Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Toledo's many inland attractions.

Service is friendly and personal, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed, and plentiful home-cooked meals are available on-site at Charlie's Bar, prepared with ingredients grown on the Cottages’ farm and seasonal produce from the local market.

Monday, 21 January 2008

New addition in Ecuador!

Today sees the addition of a new ecolodge in Ecuador on the ecobookers site.

Arajuno Jungle Lodge is a private, family owned forest reserve located on the scenic banks of the Arajuno River in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin in eastern Ecuador. The Lodge is adjacent to the Jatun Sacha Biological Field Station. This area is a biological hotspot due to it being in a transition zone between high and low elevation jungle. It is also located in the heart of the Quichua Indian population.

This Jungle Lodge is dedicated to the conservation and protection of the planet through direct action. The owners personally seek to create the best setting for their guests to have a profound and unique experience, to enjoy the spirit of learning, laughing and healing in a pristine environment of the Amazon jungle.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

New ecolodge in Mexico!

Another new addition to the ecobookers site!
Casa Viva Troncones consists of three bungalows, each with a palm-thatched roof and private bathroom, built into a natural setting of local trees and plants.
The goal of the owners of Casa Viva Troncones was to create a space that was both private and public, where you can get away from it all or immerse yourself in everything. The site therefore consists of the private casitas, but also a central area, the Area Comun (Common Area) where the pool, kitchen, dining room and sleeping porch are all located - a space for sharing time together swimming, cooking, eating, playing cards and hanging out.
Casa Viva is about a 25-minute walk, or 10-minute bike ride, from the village of Troncones and is located right on the beach in a small private cove. Troncones is about a 30 minute drive from Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa, one of Mexico’s top resorts behind Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Eco awards!

Sarinbuana Eco Lodge situated in Mt Batukaru, Bali, Indonesia has come away with the Wild Asia Best Eco Lodge award for their commitment to Responsible Tourism.

Hotel operators are assessed in a total of 40 different criteria covering the following principals: Commitment to local employment; respecting local cultures and supporting local development; protection of natural areas; efficient use of resources; responsible waste management and commitment to continual improvement. Award nominees are then site assessed by Wild Asia to establish the level of commitment.

The owners of Sarinbuana Eco lodge have instigated the protection of 800 hectares of rainforest on Mt Batukaru - the largest and most diverse rainforest in Bali. The lodge has been developed following sustainable management principals in harmony with the local community. The owners of Sarinbauna Eco Lodge recognise that the emerging “Eco Tourist“ is interested in experiencing the local culture, exploring the natural features and learning from the local communities of those they visit.

For the second year in a row, Guludo Beach Lodge, Mozambique has been highly commended in the Responsible Tourism awards in the ‘Best for Poverty Reduction’ category.

The Virgin Responsible Tourism Awards were presented at the World Travel Market on November 14th, 2007. The awards aim to recognise individuals, companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of local communities and are providing a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation.

Guludo Beach Lodge acts as a vehicle for the associated charity NEMA which receives 5% of accommodation revenue, an invaluable logistical base and generous donations from guests. NEMA works alongside Bespoke to relieve poverty and protect their fragile environments. Fundamentally, Guludo Beach Lodge covers all NEMA admin costs resulting in 100% of donations going straight into projects.

Monday, 14 January 2008

exclusive special offer - Jamaica

Our competition has now been drawn and the winner notified, but for those of you not lucky enough to win a 7-night stay at the Eco-Chic Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, ecobookers has teamed up with this luxury hotel in Jamaica to give you an exclusive special offer.
This eco-chic hotel is offering you the chance to discover Port Antonio with the below very special offer, available exclusively to ecobookers guests for stays completed between 1st May and 30th October 2008. Book by 31st March 2008 to receive the following special prices and complimentary offers (to make a booking request, reply to this email of use the 'Make an Enquiry' button on the Hotel Mocking Bird Hill page).
Pay just US$1,140 (a saving of US$15) for 7 nights in a garden view room (for two persons) or US$1,470 (a saving of US$245) for 7 nights in a superior room (for two persons) and also enjoy complimentary tropical Continental breakfast with fresh juice, tropical fruit plate, famous Blue Mountain Coffee and a bread basket with home-made breads – Banana Bread, Coconut Bread, scones, muffins; a complimentary welcome cocktail while watching a spectacular sunset against the backdrop of the Blue Mountains and the Caribbean Sea; free shuttle and entrance to Frenchman’s Cove – Jamaica’s most famous beach – just 5 minutes drive from the hotel and an introductory cookery session after which you can enjoy what you have prepared for lunch and take home the recipes and a Mocking Bird apron to treat friends and family at home with a Jamaican evening!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

New eco-lodges and eco-friendly hotels in the Caribbean and Africa

Since last writing we have added new eco-friendly accommodations in a variety of destinations, including the Caribbean and Pemba Island. Here’s a taster:

In Tobago, surround yourself with nature at the Adventure Eco Villas. Nestled amongst the tropical flora and fauna of a twelve-acre nature reserve and organic farm, the Villas are also only minutes away from palm-fringed beaches and excellent snorkelling.

At our first eco-hotel featured in Grenada, on the other hand, you could pamper yourself with beach massages and therapy treatments at the Paradise Bay Villa Resort, followed by gourmet cuisine at one of the Resort’s speciality restaurants.

For a remote and peaceful eco-resort, look no further than Fundu Lagoon on Pemba Island. Run with a love for the natural environment that surrounds it, Fundu Lagoon is the epitome of shabby chic. Wooden walkways and sandy paths lead to sixteen Makuti thatched-tent room suites, all spacious with breath-taking views of the ocean.

More ecolodges to come very soon!