How green is your hotel?
It's good news, bad news this week for travelers concerned about whether hotels are harming the environment. While you can refer to hotel rating systems that let you compare hotels on a scale of one to four stars for their level of amenities, there is no rating system for judging how eco-friendly a hotel is.
The good news: Next month, the American Hotel & Lodging Association will publish a list of eco-friendly steps that hotels can voluntarily take, such as towel reuse programs and the installation of energy-efficient lamps.
The bad news: The association has decided not to create a star-based system for rating hotels or a hotel certification program for environmental issues, says an article in this week's Travel Weekly (registration required). The reason is that such a program would be expensive. Presumably not enough hotels have decided to get together and chip in to a kitty to fund such a program.
This summer, the editor of Hotel Interactive pointed out one of the problems of not having a national eco-friendly hotels certification program. Here was one of his interesting examples:
Gary Coward, SVP with Concept Amenities Inc., [recently] brought up the very real issue of what does a word really mean. Coward noted that people are bandying about “biodegradable” without ever truly understanding what it means. After all, a plastic bottle is biodegradable; it just takes something like 400 years. So if your hotel uses biodegradable products, what exactly does that mean? Is it two weeks, two years or two centuries? And is your definition in line with consumers and industry peers?
Let's hope someone in the industry steps forward to create a campaign to create a rating system or certification program. Otherwise, travelers face "green-washing," which is when hotels pretend to be more eco-friendly than they are.
Update: 5:37 p.m. In response to my blog post, I learned that today, Green Seal, an independent non-profit, put several Chicago hotels through a environmental certification process. The Chicago Department of Environment and the Mayor's Office apparently partnered with the hotels. Kimpton Hotels in Chicago were among those recognized.
Travelers may not always like it when a hotel is truly eco-friendly. [Go Green Travel Green]
This weekend: Watch bucking bulls in Kansas City
Some bulls lunge when you ride them. Others airwalk. Still other buckle like an earthquake. To appreciate the fine differences, you need to attend a bull riding competition. And I highly recommend the American Royal Pro Rodeo Dodge Prairie Circuit Finals, taking place this weekend as part of the American Royal, which is a five-week long celebration of the pioneer spirit at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Allow me to wax poetic for a moment: As a born-and-bred KC girl (go Royals!), I've spent many a fall day over the years attending the Royal with my grandparents. I think nothing says "fall" like a good old-fashioned rodeo, especially for a kid (or the young at heart). This weekend, in particular, is a great time to visit the American Royal. Bull riders, cowboys, cowgirls, and 4-H kids will descend upon Kansas City to watch regular Joes mainly from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska compete in seven events—two that will get your heart racing are bull riding and barrel racing. This Saturday is also one of two Family Fun Days. There are activities for agriculture enthusiasts: the American Royal Rodeo University (where your kids can learn to rope!), a piglet birthing clinic, and a colt-raising area. There's also the Western Marketplace, for those of you more inclined to shop. There are events at the Royal scheduled into November—including more bull riding. Kemper Arena, 1800 Genessee. Rodeo tickets start at $22; you can buy tickets online. Admission to Family Fun Days is $5 per person or free with any rodeo ticket. MORE TO DO IN KANSAS CITY The new $800 million, nine-block pedestrian cultural district The Truman Library in the Kansas City suburb of Independence offers a large collection of presidential memorabilia Check out the great blogger Kansas City Kitty for more ideas MORE TRAVEL BLOGS Visit travel.alltop.com
New in Boston*: The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
For the past 15 years, a trip to Beantown has meant maneuvering around the Big Dig: the massive public-works project that replaced the city's elevated highway with tunnels. With the Dig finally finished, people can now stroll where they once sat in traffic. The new Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway (rosekennedygreenway.org) is a mile-long park that follows the path of the former highway all the way to the Charles River. —Alison Lobron *CORRECTION 12:31 p.m.: A typo in this headline has been corrected.
Orlando: Free walking tours beyond the theme parks
Orlando receives nearly 50 million visitors a year. Many travel to the theme parks, of course. But Disney World alone can cost up to $75 per person per day. Here are a few tours that will show you what else the city has to offer—for free. The City of Orlando offers a free self-guided walking tour and map of the downtown historic district. The 11-page downloadable tour itinerary describes 28 historic buildings across 2.5 miles of downtown. From the 1927 Beaux Arts courthouse to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church with bricks made by the congregation, there's plenty of local history to absorb. For some exercise, the local chapter of the Florida Trail Association offers free walking tours as well as some bike and paddle excursions. One of the most popular activities is a moonlight tour of the 1880 Greenwood Cemetery. The Winter Park Historical Association and Museum offers self-guided walking tours of 20 sites in this quaint suburb north of downtown. The neighborhood is home to Rollins College and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, with an extensive collection of Tiffany glass. First founded as an artist colony in 1938, The Maitland Art Center has hosted a number artists over the years including painter Milton Avery. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, its grounds feature Mayan and Aztec motifs on five acres of gardens. Admission to the gallery is $3, but the gardens are free. Come on the third Monday of each month at 3 p.m. (when many other local museums are closed) if you'd like to take an hour-long guided tour of the grounds ($3). A reservation for the tour is required. EARLIER Coming soon: Free admission to Disney on your birthday /theme_parks_get_the_lowdown_fr.html"> Interview with a theme-park insider
This weekend: A Warhol exhibit is well timed for the elections
Now open at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, N.H.: Andy Warhol: Pop Politics. The exhibit showcases more than 60 of the Pop Art phenom's political works—some highlights are images of the Kennedys (including Jackie), Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, Mao Zedong, and Richard Nixon, in Warhol's signature cartoon-y color palette. To add some context to the artist's pop culture references, there are archival materials from Warhol's "time capsules". Turns out he was quite a packrat—by the time of his death, he had collected more than 600 boxes of papers, photos, records, and correspondence. The significant materials have been displayed in relation to the exhibit—for example, there's a letter from President-Elect Nixon for administration recommendations. As we approach Election Day (finally), this exhibit presents a timely, relevant way to look back on how we got here. What would Warhol make of politics today? Who knows. But if you get a chance to stroll through his political works, it might be fun to imagine the possibilities. The Currier also has European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs, and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Monet, O'Keeffe, Wyeth, and LeWitt. Manchester is about an hour's drive north of Boston. 150 Ash Street, Manchester, N.H., 603-669-6144, ext. 108, currier.org. Closed Tuesdays, adults $10, kids 18 and under free, admission is free for all ages between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturdays. Exhibition through Jan. 4, 2009. Read about Andy Warhol on pbs.org. MORE TO DO IN MANCHESTER Take a walking tour of downtown. And here's a handy map. MORE TRAVEL BLOGS Visit travel.alltop.com