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Green getaways

Green getaways

Now you too can save the world, one eco-friendly holiday at a time. But to get your money’s worth, watch out for the faux green resorts.

No air conditioning, no hot water, no western toilets, no television, no fresh towels on the rack after the turndown service... When the green mantra first erupted on the global travel consciousness, it adopted a return-to-basics approach, and travellers paid huge sums of money for the ‘experience’. But as responsible tourism outgrew the fad stage, the focus started shifting from merely doing away with frills that leave a huge carbon footprint to developing sustainable practices. Which is why being kind to the environment doesn’t have to hurt your wallet any longer.

Today, India boasts a number of eco-friendly options, ranging from rustic farmhouses offering bucolic nirvana to green resorts that extend the organic theme to everything from cuisine to spa. Take Our Native Village. Located on the outskirts of Bengaluru, it claims to be India’s first 100 per cent eco resort. It’s not an empty claim. For electricity, it relies on its own windmill, solar panels and two biogas plants. It is among a handful of resorts in the country to boast zero waste— every scrap and drop is recycled. It has the region’s first biopool, which shuns chemicals in favour of aquatic plants to keep the pool clean naturally. The bricks used for construction were made on site, using the soil dug up for the foundation. Moreover, the resort is committed to using local labour, both as staff and for outsourced services like guided excursions.

Not that the guests are inconvenienced in any way. You get the finest cotton bedsheets, the freshest food, a chance to sample dying rural traditions and enjoy a pollution-free holiday. All this for Rs 8,850 per couple per night, with all meals and taxes.

Our Native Village is India's first 100% eco resort
Our Native Village is India's first 100% eco resort
Similar endeavours can be seen at resorts like Barefoot at Havelock, Andaman Islands, Orange County in Karnataka and Spice Village in Kerala. Even five-star hotels are joining the bandwagon. Though it’s difficult to convert a constructed hotel into a green one compared to designing an eco lodge from scratch, luxury resorts like Park Hyatt, Goa, are making a creditable attempt to do so. Apart from the fairly common practices like reducing hot water temperature and water pressure, the hotel has invested in electric buggies to take guests around the property. Its energy conservation drive has not only preserved 8,823 litres of fossil fuel, but has also saved about Rs 3 lakh since March last year. Sooner or later, some of these savings are bound to trickle down to the guests. It can already be seen at Chennai’s Rain Tree Hotel, by far the cheapest five-star hotel in the city.

However, given the mushrooming of faux green resorts across the world, you need to be careful to get your money’s worth. Before making a reservation, ask the resort about the steps being taken to preserve the local flora and fauna, whether it utilises indigenous labour, minimises waste and controls energy consumption. The greenest resorts will not only try to minimise the carbon footprint, but offset what they can’t avoid, say, through reforestation. Clearly, going green need not make travellers or hoteliers see red.