Does a Green Hotel Make for a Better Vacation?

Mother Nature isnt the only one smiling down on green hotels.  According to ratings, travelers ranked green hotels higher than their non-green competitors.

The travel site allows consumers to rate hotels on a scale of one to five "smiley faces," to describe the quality of their stay there. Travelers gave 83% of non-green hotels at least three smiley faces, but 94% of green hotels received three or more smiley faces. Travelocity can not disclose how many users ranked the hotels citing that the information is proprietary

Alison Pressley, manager of Travel for Good at Travelocity, says that 65% of customers report a green rating influences their selection when prices are the same with an additional 10.8% saying a green rating influences their decision despite price discrepancies. This separate data is based on a survey of more than 1,000 Travelocity customers.

According to Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria , a green hotel must: demonstrate effective sustainable management, including a long-term sustainability system; and maximize social and economic benefits to the local community, cultural heritage and the environment and minimize negative impacts to these three things.

According to Pressley, green hotels are going above and beyond to meet environmentally-friendly standards, and are also paying more attention to the overall atmosphere in their hotel, and customers are taking note.

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"The kind of hotel that is going green takes the entire customer experience seriously," she said.

Travelocity lists second and third-party green-certified hotels that align with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, which audits hotels to determine if they qualify as a green hotel. Currently the site has more than 2,900 green hotels listed from all over the world, a number that has tripled since last year alone, according to Pressley. With that said, green-certified hotels still make a very small fraction of the hotel industry.

"If more hotels are bothering to go green, that is because customers are demanding it," she says.

What defines a green hotel can vary from state to state, says Pressley.  Some hotels are green from the ground up because they were built as completely green, while others may be older or historic buildings that have gone through serious upgrades to meet the green criteria.

Patricia Griffin, president and founder of the Green Hotels Association, says customers often rank these hotels higher in satisfaction because they have a feel-good aspect to them. She also claims staying in a green hotel is healthier for travelers.

"You're not breathing in toxic cleaning products, or using shampoos that are full of chemicals. Environmentalism helps you to have good health."

Here are some tips from Pressley and Griffin for being more eco-friendly when traveling:

No. 1: Bring your own water bottle. This tip will save you money and help the environment. "Just the small fortune you will save on water is worth it," says Pressely. "You can start filling it up once you go through airport security."

No. 2: Use public transportation. When you arrive at your destination or when going to and from the airport, Griffin suggests using public transportationespecially in cities. "Don't rent a caruse a van from the hotel or public transportation available in your destination," she said.

No. 3: Reuse towels and sheets. Instead of having the housekeeping team come in to give you new sheets and towels daily, use each for a few days. "It's the easiest thing to do," says Griffin. "We don't change our sheets and towels everyday at home, so why do it when we are away?"

No. 4: Set your home to vacation mode. Before leaving for a trip, travelers should make sure all their appliances are set to vacation mode to save money and energy, advises Pressley. "There's no sense in heating and cooling while you're awayeven the fridge has a vacation mode."

No. 5: Avoid takeout and room service. Griffin says steering clear of these tempting options on vacation is an easy way to go green. "You save all that Styrofoam by not bringing it back to the hotel.