Travel Green - Some Easy Tips

The United Nations has appointed 2017 as The International Year of Sustainable Tourism.

This means as travelers, businesses and human beings, we have a responsibility to care for and leave a positive impact on our environment while wandering about our planet. We need to take action and speak out. We need to encourage the industry to become more responsible.

In 2015, 7.2 trillion dollars were spent on Travel and Tourism, accounting for nearly 10% of the global GDP, and one in ten jobs are a result of this industry. That is quite a positive economic impact!

Unfortunately the environmental impression from this industry isn’t quite so positive to say the least.  Negative impacts from tourism occur when the level of visitor use is greater than the environment's ability to cope with this use. This includes the depletion of local natural resources, pollution and waste problems.

Here are a few tips for travelling green on your next vacation:

-   Before you leave, remember to turn off and unplug everything that does not need to be on and turn down your heat or A/C.

-  Consider taking a vacation closer to home. Many of us live in places where tourists from elsewhere visit, so take a holiday in your hometown and find out what it has to offer.

-  Use other modes of transportation when possible. Trains and buses are more energy efficient than airplanes. Even cars can be more efficient than planes, especially with multiple passengers.

-  If you do fly, choose the most direct route possible, since take-offs and landings use the most fuel, and fly during the daytime, because studies have shown that flights taken at night have a greater impact on the climate.

-  Pack light - lighter planes mean less fuel is burned.

-  Most of the plastic that has been produced is still here, so remember to bring reusable bags and water bottles for your trip.

 photo by Campi ya Kenzi

photo by Campi ya Kenzi

-  Choose a hotel that is eco-friendly. A quick google search can tell you which hotels have the best green policies. Leed certified hotels are a great option. Other programs to look for are: Green Key Global, Green Globe International, Green Seal and EcoRooms & EcoSuites

-  While at your hotel, reuse towels and sheets, and remember to turn off lights, TV’s and heating/air conditioning when you leave the room.

-  Remember to stay on paths while on hikes and respect the area. Whether you are at the beach or hiking through a jungle - clean up after yourself!

-  Use Reef-safe sunscreens. They are very easy to find on-line. Here is one option

-  Never participate in animal petting of any kind or animal selfie shots. Do not visit animals in captivity who are used for entertainment (that includes zoos, marinas and circuses), and riding elephants is never an ethical activity no matter what anyone tells you.

-  Consider volunteering on your vacation, but do the research before you go and make sure they are legit.

-  Reconsider taking a cruise. Cruise ships are travelled by approximately 25 million passengers each year and the average daily garbage created by each passenger is around 8 pounds. The math is staggering! Many of these gargantuan floating hotels create as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance and burn over 150 tonnes of fuel a day.

 

Eco-Friendly Travel Tips

Your journey to becoming an eco-friendly tourist starts with a few simple ideas. We have put together just a few green tips for your next trip. 

Pack for the Planet - 2 million people pass through US customs on any given day. Many of their suitcases and bags are filled with ziplocks, batteries, water bottles and disposable snacks. To cut down on all this garbage, pack reusable water bottles, use rechargeable batteries and tupperware containers can hold your snacks and your toiletries. Make sure your sunscreen is reef safe too! Also, the less you pack, the lighter your load and the more fuel-efficient you will be.

Stay at an Eco-Friendly Hotel - Since green has become the new black, these are easy to find with a quick google search. It's simple, the more we support these types of vacation spots, the more of them will follow our dollars.

Take a Volunteer Holiday - Rebuilding reefs, assisting at a turtle rescue or volunteering at a local animal shelter are just a few of the options you can include in your vacation. If you are booking a volunteer holiday be sure and check that the organization is legit first.

Walk, Bike or Take Public Transit - While you are away on your vacation, get out and see the area by taking a hike or renting a bike. Using public transit can cut down on your travel expenses as well as helping the planet!

Take Only Memories and Leave Only Footprints - Stick to marked trails to avoid causing harm to the local flora, and consider bringing a bag with you to pick up trash along the way. It helps to keep the area beautiful but also protects animals from eating it or getting tangled.

Finally, before you leave home, be sure to unplug your tv's, microwaves and all your chargers. Even on standby mode, they all use up electricity.

It may seem that the eco-friendly actions of one person traveling are insignificant, but multiply that by millions each day and the impact makes a world of difference!

Campi ya Kanzi, Kenya - Luxury and Eco Friendly!

Italian owners, Luca and Antonella are hands on at this amazing luxury retreat.

Several beautiful tented cottages and suites are located on 283,000 acres of Maasai conservation area with spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Incredible safari's and hikes take place in this diverse eco system with the special treat of no other tourists! Tembo House (the heart of the camp) has been constructed with lava rocks, thatch and sustainable wood, and is where the main dining takes place. Fine Italian and local dishes are prepared using organic ingredients and are served by friendly Maasai waiters. 

Their mandate is to have the lowest impact possible on the environment. Each day of your stay contributes $101 to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, which among many other things, compensates Maasai farmers for lost livestock due to predators, and is responsible for tripling the local lion population over the last three years. 

Photovoltaic panels are used for electricity and the water catchment systems provides a carbon footprint of ZERO! Low energy appliances, recycling of all water, eco-friendly soaps, composting and sustainable farming all add to the true ecotourism practiced by Campi ya Kanzi. 

BOTTOM LINE:  If you are looking for a truly amazing experience, filled with genuine and unique adventures, then the luxury filled Campi ya Kenzi is your pick!

BUCKET LIST - The Safari Collection - Giraffe Manor

The Giraffe Manor is one of four luxury boutique resorts in Kenya owned by Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley (The Safari Collection). This exclusive hotel is set on 12 acres of private land and offers many unique luxuries. Most fascinating is the herd of Rothschild Giraffes that visit every morning and evening and poke their heads into the windows in hopes of a treat. Something that I absolutely need to see!

The Safari Collection of resorts are focused on both sustainability and giving back. Through a few carefully selected projects, they support conservation and community development, all of which directly conserve wildlife, addressing the causes of their decline and meeting the needs of the surrounding communities.

Their goal is to provide guests with amazing personal safari experiences while making a contribution to Kenya's wildlife, cultures and eco systems. They have put in place many procedures to reduces their usage of energy, water and materials.

giraffe manor1.png

Come back for more details on this amazing property!

The Westin Maui Resort and Spa

The beautiful and luxurious Westin Hotel Maui is set on the pristine white sands of Ka'anapali Beach. Their exclusive services and first rate amenities are complemented by their amazing Green Initiatives.

The hotel's water and energy program includes high efficiency lighting with occupancy sensors and water conserving fixtures throughout the hotel. The 'Make A Green Choice' program rewards are offered to guests choosing to participate in helping to reduce the environmental footprint. One option is to forego a room clean for up to 3 days. Guest are rewarded with Star Points or food vouchers. Recycling and composting are practiced as well as environmentally preferred products are purchased by the hotel. Sustainable food and beverages are on their spectacular menus.

Come back soon to learn more about one of Maui's best upscale hotel properties.

The Ritz Carlton, Toronto

After many years, I recently made it back to my home town just North East of Toronto. While visiting my family I stayed at the beautiful and luxurious Ritz Carlton, Toronto.  The first thing I noticed was the staff and facilities are both impeccable! This Ritz has a great location in Toronto's Entertainment District, only blocks away from the Distillery District and Financial District. It is also directly connected to the PATH, Toronto's downtown walkway linking 27 kilometers of underground shopping, services, and entertainment.  

Here are some things to know about this luxury hotel.

- This sophisticated hotel opened in 2011 near Toronto’s CN Tower.
- The rooms are gorgeous, with amazing beds, contemporary furnishings, heated floors, and either city or water views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.  
- My room was on the 17th floor and had a remarkable view of Lake Ontario and the CN Tower. The room came with access to the Club Level where you can relax and have all day access to complementary snacks, appetizers, alcoholic drinks and delicious desserts.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa (Spa My Blend by Clarins) is one of Toronto’s largest spas and certainly one of its most luxurious. The exclusive spa has sixteen treatment rooms (including one Cloud Nine suite), a nine-station nail salon with private pedicure cabins, three relaxation lounges, Sun Rooms, a vitality pool, a lap pool, a yoga studio and much more! I visited the spa with my mom and sister. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and professional. We began with a tour of all the amenities and then were all treated with an incredible hour long regeneration facial. Mine included a foot massage which I highly recommend!

TOCA, The Toronto Ritz-Carlton’s on-site restaurant, serves Canadian cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers a variety of pastries and has a wine cellar and a cheese cave. TOCA Bar has an outdoor patio with views of Metro Hall Park.

I did leave my dogs at home this time but I was thrilled to learn that pets are not excluded from the luxury: all rooms are potentially pet-friendly for an additional $150 per stay but they are limited to cats and dogs under 30 pounds.

I was extremely pleased to find out that The Ritz Carton Hotels are very involved with environmental issues.

They have deployed a global program to calculate carbon and water footprint, waste diversion, and energy intensity at their hotels and resorts around the world. Innovative systems that lesson the environmental impact of laundry operations have been employed. They work with waste and recycling partners to reduce the tonnage transported to landfills, and divert waste through recycling and food composting. They also collaborate with Clean the World, a non-profit that collects partially used soaps and other hygiene amenities.

Bottom Line:

I have traveled the world and stayed at many exclusive hotels, and can easily say this 5 star hotel exudes luxury, their attention to detail is impeccable, and the attentive staff go above and beyond to cater to your needs. I will definitely be returning the Ritz Carlton Toronto on my next visit! To make your reservations, click here

The Bucket List: The Blue Lagoon

blue lagoon

If you are like me the Blue Lagoon has been on your Bucket List for sometime now. Finally, it has been checked off mine and I can’t wait to go again.

Here are some interesting facts to know before hitting the Spa

  • The Blue Lagoon is actually a manmade lagoon and is situated next to the Blue Lagoon Hotel. Years ago, a nearby power plant, Svartsengi, was drilling to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities and the lagoon was an accidental byproduct of this process.
  • It is now a Geothermal Spa and is run like most other day spas you find around the world. There is accommodation, as well as saunas, steam rooms, restaurants & cafes, lockers, showers, and more.
  • The geothermal water features three active ingredients: Silica, Algae & Minerals.
  • The water looks blue, but it is actually white. The reflection from the sun changes the color to a blue tint. The water temperature is a perfect 37-40°C (98-104°F), year-round. The water is not hot-hot, it feels more like warm bathwater. Though, after swimming around to different areas, you will notice there are hot pockets around the sides of the lagoon.

Getting There

  • The Blue Lagoon is about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik and about 20 minutes away from the airport. There are shuttle transfers available to the Lagoon from both locations. We bought our package through a tour operator which included our transfer from Reykjavik, we highly recommend that, especially if travelling in the winter as the roads can get icy.

Weather

  • The weather in Iceland is highly unpredictable. You can often experience all four seasons in a single day. Don’t let bad weather keep you from going to the Blue Lagoon. We were here the day a Category 4 hurricane creeped up on Reykjavik and it didn’t change our experience at all.

Photography

  • If you plan on taking photos inside the Lagoon, use protection. We had a case that did leak and nearly cost us a new iPhone. We recommend investing in a Life Proof Case or a Go Pro.

What package we suggest

  • We went for the most popular package to ensure the complete Blue Lagoon experience. The Premium access cost about €65/97CAD

INCLUDED:

  • Transportation
  • Entrance to Blue Lagoon
  • Use of a Bathrobe
  • Use of a Towel
  • Slippers
  • 1st drink of your choice at the Bar
  • Skin Care Trial Pack
  • Reserved table at LAVA Restaurant
  • Sparkling wine at LAVA Restaurant

What to check out

 

SILICA MUD MASK

  • The white facemask that you’ve probably seen in photos is the Silica Mud Mask. There are a number of crates around the lagoon where you can spoon out the silica mud for your own use. Apply as much as you want to your face and body, and leave it on for at least 5 minutes. When you wash it off, you will feel a significant difference in the softness of your skin. It may sting a little but that is perfectly normal.
  • Why Silica? It is a mineral intended to have a wide span of benefits for the body it is claimed to boost collagen, give vitality to hair, and slow the aging process. It can help to preserve the integrity of our skin, hair and nails. When applied topically, silica is used for its oil absorbing properties, making it beneficial for acne sufferers. And lastly, it is effective in removing dead skin cells and other skin imperfections.

SAUNA AND STEAM ROOMS

The sauna and steam baths are carved into the lava rock.

 

waterfall

THE WATERFALL

The man-made waterfall works wonders on sore shoulders and stiff muscles.  It is very refreshing and powerful.

LAVA RESTAURANT

And finally we finished off at the Beautiful Lava Restaurant that is embedded into a lava cliff next to the Lagoon with beautiful views. LAVA Restaurant combines modern design with the wild spirit of Icelandic nature. It’s setting is fantastic  for a relaxed lunch or a romantic evening meal. Lava offers contemporary Icelandic dishes all inspired by the Island's natural ingredients.

 

We highly recommend this check mark to anyone visiting Iceland. It’s the perfect way to relax after a long flight inbound, before a long flight outbound, or take a break from all the adventure seeking.