We don’t want to sound prematurely optimistic or anything, but things are finally starting to look up for the bruised and battered travel industry (the CDC just announced fully vaccinated travelers can travel domestically without getting tested or self-isolating). After a year of insufferable stagnation, President Biden’s recent announcement of expanded vaccine rollouts has offered a glimmer of hope for the summer travel season. Suddenly, stir-crazy travelers are starting to dust off their luggage and fantasize about their first post-pandemic getaway. One of the biggest trends poised to emerge is booking meaningful trips at socially and environmentally responsible hotels that give back. Sure, the sustainability movement has been swelling for years. But nowadays, the concept is shifting from “nice-to-have” to “need-to-have.”
Following an outright hellish year, travelers want to have a positive impact on the places they go. They’re starting to pay more attention to the details and are actively seeking out unique experiences that do good—from being socially and environmentally responsible to supporting noble causes they believe in.
There are entire platforms dedicated to this concept. Take Kind Traveler for example. It’s the world’s first socially conscious “Give + Get” hotel booking engine that empowers travelers to do good. The idea is simple: Users unlock exclusive rates and perks at a network of vetted hotel partners just by making a $10 nightly donation to a highlighted local charity (with 100 percent of donations benefiting the charity).
Feeling inspired? Here are five domestic escapes committed to giving back. And yes, this absolutely means you can give yourself a pat on the back for booking your next vacation.
5 Socially and Environmentally Responsible Hotels Committed to Giving Back
1. Vermejo, A Ted Turner Reserve
Where it is: Raton, New Mexico
Why you should go: A visit to Vermejo, A Ted Turner Reserve is a breath of fresh air. Set against the snow-capped alpine tundra of northern New Mexico, the property sits on 558,000 sprawling acres of restored lands. Founded by media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner, Vermejo’s rugged landscape serves as a vital refuge for threatened and endangered wildlife species, including the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, Bolson tortoise, and Mexican wolf. The hospitality brand includes two additional properties: Ladder (in Caballo, New Mexico) and Armendaris (in southern central New Mexico). The properties all work hand-in-hand with scientists from the Ted Turner Endangered Species Fund to protect and rehabilitate the native ecosystems that support the surrounding diversity. For example, Vermejo is a crucial sanctuary for the genetically unique Castle Rock bison herd, which are critical for driving efforts to re-establish the region’s wild bison herds and protecting genetic diversity. The property’s forest health and stream restoration programs have also resulted in an abundance of rare wildlife species, which are on full display for visitors to appreciate during a stay.
2. SCP Hotel Colorado Springs
Where it is: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Why you should go: SCP—which stands for Soul Community Planet—bills itself as a “Holistic Hospitality” company founded on three core values: wellness (soul), kindness (community), and sustainability (planet). SCP Hotel Colorado Springs offers a fresh and thoughtfully designed modern escape with tons of eco-friendly touches throughout, such as implementing solar power, eliminating single-use plastic toiletries, and serving ethically sourced meat and produce. But what really brings the brand to life is its newly launched Every Stay Does Good program. They’ve partnered with a collection of causes that tie into their cornerstone beliefs, and each booking directly translates to measurable impacts. So every time a guest checks in, the following happens: One youth receives well-being resources to build life-long mental health skills through WE Well-being; one family caring for a critically ill child has their home lit for 24-hours through Miracles for Kids; and one tree is planted in an unnaturally deforested area through One Tree Planted. “Every time a guest chooses to stay at an SCP Hotel, not only do they get to enjoy SCP’s exceptional service, amenities, and bohemian vibe, they also are consciously choosing to join a community that’s driving positive change in the world around us,” says Ken Kruse, co-founder and CEO of Soul Community Planet. The brand’s portfolio also includes SCP Hotel Depoe Bay and SCP Hotel Redmond (both in Oregon).
3. The Tides Inn Resort and Marina
Where it is: Irvington, Virginia
Why you should go: There are countless reasons why The Tides Inn Resort and Marina is one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most beloved retreats. Tucked away on a private peninsula in the heart of Virginia’s Northern Neck region, the property attracts all types of travelers, from lovebirds in search of a romantic retreat to adventure-seeking families and guys in need of a golf getaway. The inn sits on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay estuary and employees are cognizant of their role as stewards of the land and water. In March 2021, they announced the Tides Inn Waterfront Restoration Project. The $3.6 million multi-year, phased initiative will include 18,000 square feet of new living shoreline, 150 linear feet of oyster reef habitat, 1,300 linear feet of new wharf, and the addition of more than 20,000 upland and shoreline plants. They’ve also appointed a resident ecologist who will help carry out interactive “in the field” educational programming to elevate the guest experience and inspire people to become environmental stewards in their own communities.
4. The Laylow, Autograph Collection
Where it is: Honolulu, Hawai’i
Why you should go: The Laylow, an Autograph Collection property, is one of O‘ahu’s coolest hotels. Situated in Waikiki, the hip hideaway was inspired by the iconic designs of architect Vladimir Ossipoff and boasts a retro mid-century-modern-meets-tropical vibe. In an effort to continue inspiring mindful travel, the hotel has partnered with The Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative. Guests can support reforestation efforts on O‘ahu through various ways, like rolling up their sleeves and joining a North Shore excursion to Gunstock Ranch and planting new trees. The partnership is part of the larger Mālama Hawai’i program, a new collaboration between the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, select volunteer organizations, and an alliance of tourism partners. The goal of Mālama (which translates to “care for”) is to protect and preserve Hawai‘i for the future while also giving travelers more meaningful and enriching travel experiences that will help them form deeper connections with the destination. There are currently more than 70 hotel partners participating in the state-wide program, each offering their own experiences and perks—some are even giving guests an extra free night in exchange for their good deeds. That’s what we call a win-win.
5. Harmon Guest House
Where it is: Healdsburg, California
Why you should go: Over the past 150 years, Healdsburg has evolved from a sleepy pioneer outpost to one of the most exciting pockets of Sonoma County’s wine country. Harmon Guest House has been part of the city’s dramatic transformation, along with its neighboring Piazza Hospitality sister properties, Hotel Healdsburg and h2hotel. Opened in 2018, the serene property boasts bright, open spaces interwoven with Japanese and Scandinavian-inspired minimalist aesthetics. LEED Gold certified, the sleek hotel features lots of environmentally conscious design details, like using Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, LED lighting, and rainwater-powered irrigation systems. But the coolest program is arguably their hands-on “gleaning” experience, a partnership with star chef Duskie Estes and her Farm to Pantry organization. The hotel (along with the aforementioned properties) invites guests to spend the morning volunteering on a local farm or community garden. They harvest excess produce, which then benefits community members in need and reduces food waste. Afterwards, the “gleaners” can partake in various perks, like taking an exclusive cooking class or enjoying lunch prepared by Estes herself. Best of all, 75 percent of program proceeds directly support Farm to Pantry and its ongoing mission of rescuing locally grown food and sharing it with those in need.