Tag - ecotourism

Green Hotel Bookings Made Easy

Sunshine falling on tropical green palm leaves

How to find a green hotel?

What do you do if you prefer to stay at a hotel that cares about its employees, the community it operates in, and the natural surroundings? You may have stayed at such a hotel before, you may have friends who can recommend hotels to you, but there are only so many places you can cover by first or second hand experiences.

There are plenty of results if you make a generic search for sustainable hotels on google, and there are plenty of national and international organizations that certify hotels that care. But how do the hotels and certification organizations define being sustainable? The criteria applied vary greatly. And they should, because the relevance of sustainable practices vary according to the type of hotel and the natural and societal environment it operates in.

To help you through the jungle of green hotels, luckily there are great resources that help you find the accommodation you want and inform you on their sustainable practices. The green hotel search engines will quickly help you to locate sustainable hotels in your desired area.

Sustainable hotel search engines

Here is a list of online and worldwide sustainable hotel databases to get you quickly started:

Eco Hotels of the World 

A worldwide database of eco-hotels that are given a score from 1-5 Eco-Stars. The stars are given based on a rating form submitted by the hotel. The focus is mainly on environmental sustainability. For each hotel, you can see their green ratings and practices on five different criteria: Energy, water, disposal, eco-active, and protection.

Update: Eco Hotels of the World is now shut down.

Environmentally Friendly Hotels 

A worldwide database and guide to sustainable hotels. 1-7 green leaves are given based on how many of 30 “green attributes” the hotel fulfills. The checklist of the green attributes is submitted by the accommodation supplier. The focus is primarily on environmental sustainability.
Environmentally Friendly Hotels


A hotel booking database which shows the carbon footprint of hotels and indicates whether they are certified by one of the major sustainability certification schemes. The carbon footprint is calculated according to a formula developed by Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV), BookDifferent, and partners from the Dutch tourism sector. The formula considers emission heavy facilities such as air-condition, swimming pools, and saunas. BookDifferent has both green and “ordinary” hotels. Their database is based on that of, and they give a price guarantee on their hotels. About half of BookDifferent’s profit goes to a charity chosen by you.


TripAdvisor's GreenLeadersYes, you read right. Tripadvisor has launched its “Green Leaders” programme. Hotels receive bronze, silver, gold or platinum according to their efforts. Hotels have to apply themselves and make data available on their efforts on sustainability. Tripadvisor may receive feedback from users who have stayed at Green Leader hotels, and external audits will be made at properties also.

It is unclear whether all properties will be audited before being given a badge. Once you have searched for a destination on TripAdvisor, you will see a filter where one of the categories is “Style”. If you click “See all”, you may find that there is a “Green” option you can tick (only if there are green options at the selected destination).

It’s a Green Green World 

Also known as GGW, this website invites hotel properties to list their own green initiatives by filling out a form. GGW will then feature the hotel along with the information provided on the website. There is no rating given and no auditing. The GGW includes hotels from all over the world. The focus is on environmental sustainability.

Update: It’s a Green Green World is now shut down.


This website focuses on the Indonesian island of Bali. BGreener suggests green hotels, travel tips and consultancy on sustainable travel. The featured hotels promise to deliver the most enriching travel experiences, focusing on a select group of hotels that truly care about their travelers, their staff, and the environmental and social surroundings they work in. BGreener has each partner fill out a questionnaire on what makes their accommodation experience unique as a result of their sustainability benefits, efforts, and awards. In this way, travelers will know what to expect in terms of green experiences and practices.

BGreener has developed a sustainability section for hotels and suppliers in the hospitality industry, a peer-to-peer sharing platform for simple tips and best practices on social and environmental sustainability in tourism. Here you can find amazing (and free!) webinars and podcasts with international industry leaders sharing their insights and tips on sustainable tourism management.


GreenHotelWorldGreenHotelWorld is an online booking platform for green hotels worldwide. When you make a hotel search on the website, you can see which sustainable practices each hotel carries out. It is possible to filter the hotels according to their “green practices” such as environmental protection, social responsibility, local resources, cultural heritage, and third party certification status. If your chosen hotel has not been green certified by one of the many eco-certification labels GHW works with, the company has teamed up with myclimate to offset the carbon footprint of your stay. The search results are based on the Expedia hotel search engine, and GreenHotelWorld offers a price guarantee for a vast number of the hotels on offer.

There is no excuse not to book a green hotel!

Find more eco-hotel platforms and tips on how to be a green traveler on The Dharma Trails’ Where to find Eco Accommodation.

Now that we have walked you through these online tools for finding sustainable hotels, there is no excuse not to use one of them. These green hotel platforms will enable you to find your responsible accommodation providers from small family owned lodges to large luxury hotels. Remember to give feedback to the hotels and the booking platforms on your experience, so they can keep their databases up to date and help other travelers find high quality green hotels that care about their social and natural surroundings.

Did we forget a green booking engine? Please let us know and we will update our list.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Homestay experience in Malaysia with tourists eating local Malaysian cuisine with their local homestay hosts. Homestay accommodation is one of many simple tips for sustainable travel.

Have you ever wondered what you can do to travel like a sustainability champion?

Some people mistakingly think that the very act of traveling is incompatible with sustainability because of the carbon footprint from transportation. But sustainability is not some kind of polarized either / or action. There are a great many things you can do (and not do) in order to make your travel more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Most of them are rather simple, even common sense.

Here is an overview of things you can easily incorporate in your travels. By following these tips you will both limit the negative impacts of traveling and award yourself a more meaningful travel experience.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Photo of Routeburn Flats, on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.
Image credits: unuk

These simple sustainability tips apply to all kinds of travels whether it be a city break, a 6-months backpacking trip, or a beach holiday.

Common sense should not be left at home

In various forms, travel can be a relief from all the worries and responsibilities at home. Sometimes, tourists take their traveling freedom a bit too far though. Just like at home, there are rules and cultural norms to respect, and there are natural environments to consider. Why would that be any different a thousand miles from home?

It is not uncommon for hotel guests to leave the air-condition on for hours while they are exploring the area. In this way they don’t have to endure the 2 minutes of slightly too warm or too cold a room. Would you do that at home? Hopefully not.

Would you point your camera in a strangers face and snap away without seeking acceptance first? This is as intrusive in other countries as our own. Instead ask politely, strike up a conversation, and you will find that most people will gladly award you with their picture. These are common sense behaviours, but still some travelers seem to leave their brain at home when they travel.

Eat, stay, and buy local

Why not eat locally? You treat yourself to new tastes, new ways of eating, and important cultural insights when you eat locally. Why not stay at a family-run hotel instead of an international chain hotel? Why not buy locally made art, food, and fashion instead of visiting the very same stores you can find in a hundred other countries?

You will minimize tourism leakage by supporting the local community directly. You will interact with your local host or seller, and you will do what traveling should first and foremost be about: Excitement, novelty, surprise, learning new ways, and exploring your own cultural background in comparison.

You might add that travel is mostly about relaxation, pampering, and re-juvenation in today’s world. Even so, it’s simple to inject some sustainability in there. Just follow these simple tips for sustainable travel as presented in the infographic.

Three central resources on sustainable tourism

For more tips on sustainable travel, we suggest you to explore the websites of The International Ecotourism Society (Ties), Sustainable Travel International (STI), and Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA’s) website on tourism sustainability and social responsibility, Here you will find a lot of background information on sustainable tourism along with guides, case studies, and research.

Photo credits (cover photo): Tourism Malaysia