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20), but it's also providing jobs to the local Ngobe-Bugle Indians, which in turn benefits the economy, which thereby keeps resort developers at bay (at least for the moment).All of which helps protect the fragile Central American ecosystem for the hoppy red frog.
The great joy of treading lightly, even as I shoo scorpions in Belize, clink across glaciers in Canada, and brave puddle jumpers through the Australian outback, comes from eschewing the conveniences we usually take for granted only to discover how rich life can be without them. No two eco-hotels are exactly alike, and of the hundreds around the world, the following 25 stand apart not only because they engage in responsible tourism, but also because they merit distinction in one of four categories.On our first night, my wife, Ruth, and I find true conservation visionaries, like Raúl Arias de Para, the gracious bankerturned bird-watcher, whose radical Canopy Tower guesthouse (see No. And yet a few nights later, at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, a million hotel selling itself as the ultimate luxe bio-reserve, we're issued green wristbands (a tag-and-release program, if you will) that let us indulge in Jungle Burgers ("broiled for the predator") from the 24-hour room-service menu in our air-conditioned suite. If we want nature, I'm sure the guest-relations manager will have a bellman whisk it to our room. One hotel's idea of ecotourism is another's ploy to cash in on conscience.10), which sits above the Canal near Panama City, is a converted U. Some eco-sensitive retreats ask guests to reuse towels and insist they've saved the world.Hundred-year-old shipping barrels are used to collect rainwater, and the nature walkways are paved with old railroad ties.Guests can park their cabooses in one of the outdoor cast-iron hot baths or meditate alongside the aquamarine Shimanto River, one of the purest in Japan.Run by a young Italian couple (the bed linens are from Italy, too), the thatched bungalows have floors of tropical afrormosia wood and bathrooms with bidets. Wastewater is treated in a phyto-purification system; hotel profits fund local education initiatives; and the resort launched the first recycling program in the 325,000-acre Mafia Island Marine Park, a protected coral reserve. Smack dab in the center of Helsinki, the new-millennium Simonkenttä is a gleaming example of what a big urban hotel can do for the environment.
The 360 rooms incorporate earth-friendly materials throughout, from the parquet þoors made of specially cultivated Nordic trees to recycled rubber trash bins to organic bath products.The new Beaver Lodge was fashioned from trees felled by spruce-bark beetles.Fortunately, the logs are solid enough to keep in the cozy heat and keep out the nosy moose (not to mention the otters, lynx, loons, beavers, bald eagles, and grizzly bears).And that makes our stay at the nearby ecolodge nothing short of magical.Because not only is Al Natural a glorious place to sleep (see No.FACTOR Fireþies and tiki torches illuminate the paths to candlelit cabanas on stilts over a lagoon.