There was a time when the phrase "eco-friendly hotel" conjured up images of a lodge in the rainforest, complete void of electricity. Those days are way behind us. Now, green hotels are among the most chic -- and even tech-friendly -- around, thanks to innovations in design and technology, and the increasingly popular demand for sustainable options. To envision what the future might look like, we took a tour of hotels that are pushing the limits of what's possible. Here are six that totally blew our minds by being stunning, not just visually speaking but in the eco-friendly department as well.
This property in Bali isn't what most people think of as eco-friendly -- it's a luxury villa -- but the surrounding environment is gorgeous, and the hotel's green features help keep it that way. The hotel is located in the side of a ravine overlooking the Petanu River, which supplies hydroelectricity to the hotel. Its design catches cross breezes, minimizing the need for air conditioning. Gently used wastewater from sinks and showers is reused in the hotel's garden, and food scraps are composted or fed to village animals.
Standing outside the Hilton Fort Lauderdale, visitors will notice something striking: six 52-foot-tall wind turbines on the rooftop of the 25-story hotel. The turbines were installed in 2014 -- the first of their kind for a hotel in the Americas -- and are said to produce enough electricity to keep the lights on in the 374-room resort throughout the year.
Just about every part of the Olive 8's design is eco-friendly, from low-flow plumbing fixtures, to the all-glass exterior (which cuts down on the need for light fixtures), to the paint on the walls. In fact, this Seattle hotel is one of the few LEED Silver-certified hotels in the U.S. But the property's most impressive -- and visibly sustainable -- offering might be the green roof. The 8,355-square-foot space has over 25,000 sedum plants, chosen because they don't need much water. It also helps reduce storm runoff by absorbing rainwater and helps lower temperatures.
Guests at the Hotel Milano Scala don't have to feel guilty about using air conditioning. The 19th-century building that houses the boutique property is retrofitted with a heat recovery system: Hot air generated by air-conditioning is used to heat the hotel's water. This technology -- though largely inconspicuous to visitors -- helped make the Milano Scala the first zero-emissions hotel in Milan when it opened in 2010. The rooftop garden even supplies herbs and vegetables to La Traviata, the restaurant on the ground floor.
Nature is the main attraction at Arenas Del Mar Beach And Nature Resort, a 38-room luxury resort located five minutes away from Manuel Antonio National Park. The park is one of the most diverse ecosystems in Costa Rica, and virtually all the hotel's visitors come across monkeys, sloths and lizards at the resort. The peaceful co-existence requires careful planning. Developers even studied the native animals and constructed the hotel to minimize interference with their habitat. The electrical system runs underground, for example, and trees were included as part of the roofs of some buildings to avoid having to cut them down.
People have been going to the hot springs at Hoshinoya Karuizawa, a secluded mountainside resort, since 1914. Located in Nagano, Japan, the property is set in a beautiful landscape with scenic views of the woods and consists of pavilions that overlook the Yukawa River. It also harnesses the power of nature: The resort and its hot spring bath are powered by geothermal energy from Mount Asama, an active mountain. The rest of its electricity is generated by mountain streams.