Down a somewhat private lane on the west side of Fontana Park in Buchanan County sit two solid new cabins — prime examples of sustainable resources, says Buchanan County Conservation Executive Director Dan Cohen.
Built and opened to the public in 2011, the cabins feature many sustainable-living elements, including triple-paned, energy-efficient windows, structural insulated panels and locally sourced materials and labor. All of the electrical needs are operated through off-grid solar panels.
Working Lighthouse in Isle au Haut, Maine:
Yearning for a true island getaway? “No television, no fax, no e-mail, no Internet, no electricity,” promises the Keeper’s House Inn.
A 40-minute ride on the mail boat from Stonington takes you across Penobscot Bay to Isle au Haut, on which dwell about 75 full-time residents, a stubby 1907 lighthouse, and the comfy but rigorously off-the-grid inn. There’s no electricity here, save for some solar and windmill power supplementing the gaslights, candles, and kerosene lanterns.
Mexico, but not as we know it[/caption]SAN EVARISTA, Mexico — Rising at dawn to catch the sunrise, cruise passengers nursing coffee cups watched as the Safari Endeavour glided past the Baja Peninsula’s ragged coast.
As the rays played over the cliffs, each thumb-shaped cove and crescent beach came into view for a minute or two, then slid out of sight, disappearing astern.
Fifty metres off the starboard bow, a whale surfaced, blowing an airy spray and leaving a widening circle of ripples. On the port side, a squawking band of seagulls hovered over a rocky islet shared by a colony of croaking sea lions.
They – and the Endeavour – were the only signs of life, or so it seemed to this first-time visitor to the Sea of Cortes, a 1,000-kilometre long finger of ocean separating the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland.
Chikoko Tree Camp South Luangwa National Park, Zambia Remote Africa Safaris is a small, family–run operation in Zambia with four intimate little camps, renowned for its excellent guides and remote, pristine locations and leopard sightings. Chikoko Tree Camp and its sibling Crocodile Camp are in South Luangwa National Park, and reached by canoe and foot via the parent camp, Tafika, where the owners John and Carol Coppinger and Bryan Jackson live. Neither has electricity or generators; they use solar lighting, gas freezers and radio communications, and to get a phone signal you have to go to the top of a termite mound on the edge of the park. Chikoko Tree Camp has three twin timber–and–grass chalets with big beds, crisp linens, flushing lavatories and steaming bucket showers. Amazing food is produced in hole–in–the–ground ovens and there are ice–cold beers on demand. There are also shady hammocks and lots of other cushioned spots for siestas. The emphasis is on walking and mountain biking with a team of excellent guides. The details Open from May 25 to October 31. Prices from US$480 per person per night on a full–board basis (remoteafrica.com).
You had better be going for a good long time to justify all those air miles. And these destinations prove that going off-grid does not have to mean roughing it.
But Petit St Vincent St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean has a gloriously ‘unplugged’ feel. Petit St Vincent is a beautiful private island between St Vincent and Grenada. It was substantially spruced up by new owners in 2011, but regulars say little of its previous spirit has been lost. While the whole vibe is rustic, it’s as exclusive as nearby Mustique with a celebrity clientele to match, so it’s actually a highly slick operation.
Forget about the Cartels. They’ll never find you here!
Perhaps you’ve heard about Mexico’s efforts to boost tourism to Mayan sites between now and the much-publicized end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012 (hey, you’d better get there before the world ends!).
And perhaps you’ve heard about the benefits of the eco-tourism trend and you’re eager to reduce your carbon footprint. Then you’ll want to know about a one-of-a-kind destination called Taninah (pronounced Tah-knee-nah), which means “first home” in Mayan, it’s a private, gated and fenced jungle retreat on 10 acres within the Riviera Maya,
Individual hotels are doing their part in encouraging more ethical travel. Here’s a clutch of Green hotels, also called eco-hotels, you may want to check out for Earth Day:
*New Hampshire’s Mountain View Grand Resort, which recently installed a 121-foot wind turbine that is now generating up to half the resort’s power. Kids can check out the computer monitor in the lobby of the green hotel that shows how it works.
*The Little St. Simons Island in Georgia is accessible only by
The Siwash Lake Ranch is truly off-grid. Its a luxury dude ranch outside Kamloops, B.C and one of the most eco-friendly destinations in Canada. It’s a small, operation in the BC foothills near Kamloops, running entirely off the grid on solar power and a backup generator.
Patrons care about energy consumption and waste, and with the cost of energy and garbage disposal rising, going green isn’t just good public relations, it’s good for the bottom line.
Riding this wave, the Hotel Association of Canada is promoting a “Green Key” program that rates hotels on a scale of one to five keys, based on a survey of everything from what they’re doing with their wastewater, to how much power they’re using.
First opened in 2008, Element is a new eco-friendly hotel chain from Westin. The first three have opened in Boston, Houston and Las Vegas.
“Cost-efficient, environmentally friendly building construction and operations were at the core of the development of the Element hotel concept
Calling all adventure seekers, skiers and eco-tourists! North America’s top ranked ski and snowboard resort, and home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, has opened the highest gondola in the world — faint of heart need not apply.
Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia officially launched the PEAK 2 PEAK on December 12. This feat of engineering connects the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb and does so with a minimum environmental footprint.
At the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, the hubbub of 21st century noise recedes as smoothly as the Lexus hybrid SUV which carries visitors to their rooms, a collection of cottages nestling along redwood-lined cliffs overlooking the Pacific.
The cottages–“treehouses” clad in aged wood and set atop 9-foot poles in stands of Douglas fir; curved steel enclosures with the rusty patina of Richard Serra sculptures; and modern spaces with sod roofs and clean lines–blend into the landscape.