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Eco hotel is a hotel or accommodation that has made important environmental improvements to its structure in order to minimize its impact on the environment. The basic definition of a hotel is an environmentally responsible lodging that follows the practices of green living. These hotels have to be certified green by an independent third-party or by the state they are located in. Traditionally, these hotels were mostly presented as Eco Lodges because of their location, often in jungles, and their design inspired by the use of traditional building methods applied by skilled local craftsmen in areas, such as Costa Rica and Indonesia.
Today, eco hotels also include properties in less "natural" locations that have invested in improving their "green" credentials.
An eco hotel must usually meet the following criteria :
- Dependence on the natural environment
- Ecological sustainability
- Proven contribution to conservation
- Provision of environmental training programs
- Incorporation of cultural considerations
- Provision of an economic return to the local community
Green hotels follow strict green guidelines to ensure that their guests are staying in a safe, non-toxic and energy-efficient accommodation. Here are some basic characteristics of a green hotel:
- Housekeeping uses non-toxic cleaning agents and laundry detergent
- 100% organic cotton sheets, towels and mattresses
- Non-smoking environment
- Renewable energy sources like solar or wind energy
- Bulk organic soap and amenities instead of individual packages to reduce waste
- Guest room and hotel lobby recycling bins
- Towel and sheet re-use (guests can tell housekeeping to leave these slightly used items to reduce water consumption)
- Energy-efficient lighting
- On-site transportation with green vehicles
- Serve organic and local-grown food
- Non-disposable dishes
- Offers a fresh-air exchange system
- Grey-water recycling, which is the reuse of kitchen, bath and laundry water for garden and landscaping
- Newspaper recycling program
Ecology is a very strong trend, either convictions or a fashion, caring for the earth has become an ideal of many. As a result, eco-hotels have become an increasingly popular alternative in the tourism industry, the increase in demand has led therefore to a large range of hotels with planet friendly options for all requirements.
According to the Royal Spanish Academy, one of the interpretations of the term ecology includes "defense and protection of nature and environment" From what we understand, to be green what is sought is to defend and protect everything natural. around us. contact with nature is something almost inherent to the holiday, providing an opportunity to carry out environmental.
An ecological hotel is one that is fully integrated into the environment without damaging the environment, contributing in some way to progress and improvement of the local community and sustainable growth of the tourism industry.
The term has been used on a more regular basis as new websites devoted to the subject become more prominent and hotel owners become more interested in protecting the areas their guests have come to visit.
New properties are being built from sustainable resources–tropical hardwoods, local stone–and designed to better blend in with their environment. In addition, they are also being run on eco-friendly principles, such as serving organic or locally grown food or using natural cooling as opposed to air conditioning.
Ecolabelling of hotels in Europe
The EU Ecolabel is an official sign of the environmental quality of services and goods in the European Union (EU) that is both certified by an independent organisation and valid throughout the many member States of the European Union.
Any tourism accommodation operator in the EU - from a large hotel chain to a small farmhouse has been able to apply for the European Eco-label since 2003. The operators must meet strict minimum standards with regard to environmental performance and health standards. These should include the use of renewable energy sources, an overall reduction in energy and water consumption, measures to reduce waste, environmental policy setting and the provision of non-smoking areas.
The first eco-labelled hotel in the European Union was the Sunwing Resort Kallithea, located in Rhodes, Greece in 2003 and the first eco-labelled hotel on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) was the Hotel Jardim Atlântico on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
Ecolabelling of hotels in South America
In Argentina, the Tourism Hotels Association (AHT) has created an annual award, Hoteles Más Verdes (Greener Hotel). The prize – a monetary award and peer-recognization – goes the best eco-hotels in the country, both operating and under construction. In 2013, Hoteles Más Verdes Award, eco-hotel projects Category, was given to Palo Santo Hotel  in Buenos Aires. In August 2014, the city of Buenos Aires has presented a new labelling system for hotels and hostels, “Ecosello”. With three levels of certification (Committed, Advanced and Excellence), the new label aims at developing tourism operators eco-consciousness in Buenos Aires
- Hoteles más Verdes, "Greener Hotels" Contest in South America.
- Palo Santo Hotel, Palo Santo Hotel, Green & Design Hotel in Buenos Aires
- Ecosello Buenos Aires.