Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Wheels Go ‘Round & ‘Round As The Footprint Goes Down, Down, Down

Guest blogger Terre Short has 24 years of hospitality management experience that includes the daily operations of five-star properties. Her current assignment is creating a new standard of eco-luxury at the sweeping Montana ranch, the Resort at Paws Up. The resort is on Andrew Harper's Top 20 List of US Hideaways and is in the registry of Preferred Boutique Hotels. Here's how the folks at Paws Up are working to green the resort.

This past summer, we began looking closely at our carbon “evil ways”at Paws Up Resort and we began to make adjustments. Perhaps the one that carried the biggest and unexpected punch was the purchase of a school bus.

We paid $5,000 for a bus in excellent shape and hired the most colorful and fun driver in all of Montana to transport employees and guests. From the very first day “Dale” made the bus fun, he had all 12 employees singing out the window as they pulled away from the Resort.

His ridership quickly grew to an average of 30 employees a day, though I suspect the singing waned and more iPods joined the commute. Dale picks up his riders in Missoula and drives them 35 miles to the Resort in Greenough–located in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley, Montana.

Not only do all of the riders save on gas, but we only pay $50 a day in diesel, plus Dale’s time and the collective footprint of the resort is reduced greatly. This is just one of many efforts the Resort is making to contribute to the “Greening of

If you'd like to share a story of how you're greening your travel, lodging, or home, write to me--you can be a guest blogger on this site which gets as many as 1,000 readers a day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Red Hot Rate Specials Coming in 2009

Staying at a knowledgeable friend’s house while on vacation can mean your hosts know the new restaurants and shops, let you whip up a quick meal in their kitchen and live in a quiet, attractive neighborhood well-off the tourist track. And best of all, they would leave you to your own devices and give you a key to the front door.

If you don’t have the benefit of a rich pal with a vacation home in your desired destination, that's what vacation rentals are for--if the owners dish out the inside scoop. Look for all the conveniences of home—fully equipped kitchens, with dishwashers and sufficient china and cutlery for all you plan to entertain (not a Spartan set of four bent forks and spindly knives). Also check for the comforts of housecleaning services, washing machines, and owners who provide backpacks, parkas, binoculars, or other gear for the local environs (like we do).

Our specials include insider information on our website, coupons and deals for local restaurants, adventures, and shops on this blog and on site in the vacation homes, and occasionally, when we have a cancellation, a rate special.

In 2009 returning guest will get a free service: a tour, massage, wilderness guide, or session with a healer.

We'll also post deals at other vacation rentals with a commitment to the local culture, economy, and environment PLUS fab healthy homes for sale so you can make your own vacation rental property. Buy low! Join the $240 billion dollar vacation rental industry! Or just get inspired to green your own home or redecorate with health supporting materials.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Local is the New Luxury

“Whether in a remote corner of Africa, or in Damascus, one of the oldest cities on earth, or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the highest standards of hospitality are achieved…without sacrificing the distinct qualities of local cultures and concerns.”
--Condé Naste Travel, Editor in Chief, Klara Glowczewska

Luxury these days is about having the time to take it easy, it’s not about stuff. It’s about having the smarts to spend your money deliberately, with companies and people who share your values. It’s about having enough heart to care for your health and the well-being of your loved ones—including Mother Earth. That luxury is a blessing for me this Thanksgiving (in the US). I hope it is for you also.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conscious Holiday Consumer: Real or Fake Christmas Tree?

Is it more responsible to buy an artificial tree you can reuse again and again or to chop down a tree for Christmas?

Last year, I bought a tree and planted it. But there is no more room for planting trees in my area, so this year, I was "stumped" ho-ho, about what to do for a Christmas tree. I went looking for answers that matched my concerns for the environment and my family's health. What I found surprised me.

I discovered most artificial trees on the market were made in China and contain lead and can out-gas hazardous chemicals into the air. Given that indoor air is likely to be two times more polluted than outdoor air, I figured why add to that risk?

I also learned that I'm not really taking a tree out of the forest when I buy a cut tree. US farmers grow Christmas trees as a crop, replanting the trees every year. No forest is cut down. If I find a tree that isn't sprayed with green spray paint (yes, they do that to make it more uniform in color) or sprayed with fire retardant, I can avoid exposing my family to more toxins. And if I chip the tree up after Christmas for mulch or reuse it in another way, a cut tree is my greenest choice.

In our guest homes, we don't put up religious or secular decorations out of respect for the many cultural backgrounds of our guests. You will find festive lights twinkling and a box of decorations made of natural materials for guests who will celebrate solistice or Christmas. The box includes a sparkly tree made of repurposed wire and crystals that don't out-gas. Now I can start worrying about whether or not the wire has lead in it...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yellow Aspens

This stand of aspens may be found opposite the trail for West Fork in Oak Creek, Sedona on the Thomas Point Trail. Park on the north-bound side of 89-A just before the entrance to the lot at West Fork at the fire road and pick up the trail which parallels the road for a few hundred yards and then heads up the side of the canyon.

An aspen grove in Utah is known as the largest living organism on earth. The largest single living organism is a fungus in Oregon, but the root system of aspens is considered the largest by mass or volume.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spectacular Sunrises, Laid Back Getaway

Florida is a state with a strong personality. Its name evokes images of early-bird specials, Universal Orlando, or Miami Vice. But there's also a lot to see beyond beaches and buffets.  Read more at Intelligent Travel

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wandering But Not Lost

More highlights from the Green Biz Conference with Seth Goldman (Honest Tea), Van Jones (The Green Collar Economy), Paul Ray (Cultural Creatives), The Ruckus Society, Better World Books, and Roxanne Quimby (Burt's Bees):

-Coming soon to this blog, guest bloggers from the conference like Eric Aragon, left (that's me, far right), and other bloggers offering savings at nurturing camps, resorts and vacation rentals plus advice on greenovating your home.

-Forget "green," consumers want the focus on "me" AND "we." As in, save my money AND the planet--protect my health AND mother earth's. Green is a cause many consumers don't identify with, but "responsibility" is what they want from businesses, products and services. Source: Joel Makower's latest research, Green World Media, Inc.

Best Hike for Fall Colors: West Fork at Oak Creek, Sedona

A few miles north of Uptown Sedona lies the national treasure of Oak Creek Canyon. A short walk through an ancient orchard and you're in a forested canyon with a year-round, meandering creek.

I like to hike West Fork once a season, as the eroded canyon walls change from crystal walls, iced by winter storms--to tumbling banks of wild flowers in spring--and now the canyon is a riot of color w as the trees turn glorious shades of red and blazing yellow.

My ritual visit begins with a stop on the way up the canyon for Garlands cider, pressed from the tiny, special apples that manage to burst out of knarled trees each summer. My travelling companions like like shopping and jewelry often abandon me in the market to explore the authentic treasures in Garlands jewelry shop next door. Happy to spend a quiet moment in the garden behind the market, I wait patiently for them to finish exploring.

Garland's Lodge is closed in the winter and eating there requires a reservation. But the Market is open year-round.

89 A is a windy road and parking can be a challenge. The best times to find a spot in the parking lot at the lower end of the creek is during the week. I would never attempt it on a weekend, though the drive to Flagstaff is worth the trip even if you don't stop for a hike. With a $7 dollar charge for parking, it helps to have a Red Rock pass. Parking at most Sedona trailheads is free if you have a pass dangling from your rear view mirror.

One reason the hike is a good on is it has something for everyone. The start of the trail is flat and offers easy access to European settlements in the orchard to more ancient ruins in the canyon. For a longer, more challenging hike one can continue into the canyon--running the creek,hopping the stones or simly hiking up the gentle grade for a half-day hike.

The creek is full of watercress, trout, and waterfowl. Birds you may spot this season include golden eagles, red tail hawks, canyon wrens, Steller jays, mountain titmouse.

It is possible to hike the entire 14 miles to the dirt roads in the Coconino National Forest, which may involve swimming across some deep pools. I've gone about 12 miles to the first side canyon which took me about five hours round trip and is a good summer hike.

Whatever length hike I take, I time it to be back at my car by 4:30 so I can hit Garlands Market again on the way home for a bowl of the world's best beef stew and a chunck of homemade cornbread. Unless you're vegan, there's no better way to end the day.

Sedona hiking maps available here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Seth Goldman, TeaEO, Honest Tea and Coca Cola

It's official, Seth has not gone over to the dark side by selling part of his organic company to Coke. I just met him moments ago at the Coop America Green Business Conference where he said, "We were warned that we'd be selling out our integrity if we made this deal. But I'm here to say not much has changed in Bethesda."

A staunch advocate for democratizing organics, Goldman's beverages are now sold in Sam's Club and other mainstream retailers. Sales in September doubled the number of sales in 2007, not for the month of September, but for the entire year. Good news in a gloomy economy. And my first journey with a drink that is neither water or sweet. What a trip.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Red Hot Rates ~ Florida Vacation Rentals + More


Delray Beach, the Village by the Sea. SAVE $460 Jan 3-10, 2009. One bedroom unit with kitchen for less than a hotel. Delray is rated a highly walkable town. Weekly resort rate is $1,400 plus tax, but you can take ours for just $990. Contact Dana for reservations/details.

St. Augustine, FL. Save $180 in November 2008. Stay one week for just $799. Smoke, fragrance free and check out the sunrise view from the balcony! REMINDER: Book early for March when the right whales swim through with their calves.

$100 AMEX gift card when you book with Wyndham Vacation Rentals. Not a green destination, but it is a good deal.

2-Nights Yellowstone from $125. Experience winter in the Rocky Mountains of Yellowstone National Park with a special deal from Xanterra Parks and Resorts. Enjoy discounted rates -- starting at $125 per person -- on a minimum two-night stay at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Wyoming, and receive a welcome gift, unlimited ice skating and skate rental, free breakfast, free hot tub rentals, and a Snow Card for 10 percent off selected gift shop items, meals, tours and rentals. Details at the Yellowstone National Park Web site.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Green Your Living Space With Style

Bau-Biologie,™ a term that originated in Germany, is used to describe a movement promoting the use of healthy building principles as a means to improve living and work spaces and the health of people who occupy them. We use principles like these to design, furnish, and greenovate the vacation rentals in Arizona and Florida.

25 Principles of Bau-Biologie, By Anton Schneider, PhD

1. A building site shall be geologically undisturbed.
2. Residential homes are best located away from industrial centers and main traffic routes.
3. Housing shall be developed in a decentralized and loose manner interlaced with sufficient green space.
4. Housing and developments shall be personalized, in harmony with nature, fit for human habitation and family oriented.
5. Natural and unadulterated building materials shall be used.
6. Walls, floors and ceilings shall be diffusible and hygroscopic.
7. Indoor air humidity shall be regulated naturally.
8. Air pollutants need to be filtered and neutralized.
9. An appropriate balance of thermal insulation and heat retention is needed.
10. The air and surface temperatures of a given room need to be optimized.
11. A heating system shall feature radiant heat using as much (passive) solar heat as possible.
12. The total moisture content of a new building shall be low and dry out quickly.
13. A building shall have a pleasant or neutral smell. No toxins shall outgas.
14. Light, lighting and color shall be in accord with natural conditions.
15. Protective measures against noise pollution as well as infrasonic and ultrasonic vibrations need to be human oriented.
16. Only building materials with little or preferably no radioactivity shall be used.
17. The natural balance of atmospheric electricity and ion concentration shall be maintained.
18. The Earth’s natural magnetic field shall not be altered or distorted.
19. Man-made electromagnetic radiation shall be eliminated (or reduced as much as possible).
20. Cosmic and terrestrial radiation is essential and shall be interfered with as little as possible.
21. Interior and furniture design shall be based on physiological findings.
22. Harmonic measures, proportions and shapes need to be taken into consideration.
23. The production, installation and disposal of building materials shall not contribute to environmental pollution and high energy costs.
24. Building activities shall not contribute to the exploitation of non-renewable and rare resources.
25. Building activities shall not cause a rise in social and medical costs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unity: Twa Wenza

Twa wenza means "Yes, we can" in Swahili.

It is a new day, a grand opportunity for us to set aside our differences and start solving the many problems at home and around the world.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Here's the News You've Been Waiting For--Forget the Election and the Economy

Many thanks to those of you who answered my survey. Your insights about the economy and travel will help shape what shows up on the blog and in our vacation rentals.

The winner of the DVD "Living Temples" is Molly Hillstrom of Philomath, Oregon. This beautiful film is a welcome respite from the anxiety of the elections and economy. Not only is the imagery soothing, but the narration by Academy Award winning Linda Hunt is inspirational--which makes watching the film a rejuvenating experience.

A few key findings from the survey:

-10% of you have given up traveling and will not travel in the next year or two due to the expense and the economy
-24% plan to vacation close to home--on staycations
-56% of you plan to travel as usual, one to five trips a year

What you like best about our vacation rentals is
-Affordability: the great price
-Green Homes: eco-friendly features.

What you want to read about on this blog varies, but there was some agreement about wanting to see rate specials on vacation rentals and more about how being green saves money, as well as the earth.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Going green can help you save--on health care costs, fuel bills, tuition, and admission fees. There's something free for everyone--indoors for culture vultures and outdoors for the more adventurous.

Top 10 Free US Attractions
  1. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
  3. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Hawaii
  4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
  5. Angel's Landing, Zion Park, Utah
  6. USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, California
  8. US Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC
  9. Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Central Park, NY City

If you bank with Bank of America your sheck or debit card gets you into 70 museums free of charge. Details at the Bank of America Museums on Us website.

Even the Ivory Towers have opened up and gone green. Try any one of the 2,000 free courses online from MIT. Daredevil, Walter Lewin is an Internet legend for using stunts to demonstrate the laws of physics. Yale, Notre Dame and Berkley offer freebies from Psychology to Nutrition.

What freebies do you like for going green?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Five Timely Reasons To Invest in a Vacation Rental Home

RISMEDIA, Oct. 27, 2008-The stock market is down, and if you’re like most people, your level of investing confidence has dropped as well. Yes, only those with nerves of steel feel good about playing the market right now. And if you’re not one of those hearty souls, you’re at a bit of a loss as to what to do with your nest egg. Christine Karpinski has a suggestion: Instead of pouring your money into Wall Street, why not consider Ocean Boulevard or Mountainside Drive? Read more...

Support Walking, Biking

Walk Score needs your help to create more walkable neighborhoods. Please sign the petition to support walking, biking, and transit--the 2009 Transportation Bill

The 2009 Transportation Bill is a once-in-a-decade opportunity. Walk Score will hand-deliver the list of supporters to Congress on foot, on bike, on bus, and on subway.