Overnight stays that are easy on the planet
The Cypress Hotel in Cupertino
Photograph courtesy The Cypress Hotel
As you review your holiday “to-do” list, a few challenges arise. Your cousins from Seattle will only patronize environmentally conscious establishments, and your asthmatic aunt from New Jersey needs an allergen-free place to breathe easy after visiting your cats. This is one holiday dilemma that is easily solved: The Bay Area is home to a wide range of eco-friendly hotels that will keep everyone’s mood merry.
The California Green Lodging Program, managed by the State of California Department of General Services, lists more than 200 green hotels throughout California. To be a part of the program, hotels must perform a number of environmental actions from a checklist of standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste. These standards include measures such as installing water-efficient fixtures in guest rooms, purchasing and using nontoxic cleaning products, reducing electricity use, and recycling. In the South Bay and Peninsula alone, more than 40 hotels have been certified by the Green Lodging Program.
The Cypress Hotel in Cupertino, a part of the Kimpton hotel chain, is a member of the Green Lodging Program and also a Santa Clara County green-certified hotel. The hotel’s eco-friendly practices include stocking guest rooms with in-room recycling bins; providing guests with organic coffee, tea, and snacks; and cleaning rooms and linens with eco-certified cleaning supplies. “Environmentally preferable” wines are offered at the evening wine hour, and the hotel’s Park Place Restaurant serves sustainable seafood dishes in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. All unused and partially used bath amenities (shampoo and other toiletries) are donated to local community programs. Guests who drive hybrid vehicles receive discounted parking rates.
Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose combines the elegance of old San Jose with the innovative sustainability strategies of a greening Silicon Valley. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the renovated Spanish Colonial Revival-style manor house is furnished with energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs. The hotel’s restaurant serves local and sustainable food and provides biodegradable containers for “to-go” meals. A “Green Team” of staff members monitors the hotel’s environmental practices and coordinates staff involvement in local environmental projects. The hotel also utilizes eco-friendly commercial laundry and dry cleaning services; uses only non-toxic, environmentally friendly paint; and maintains a vegetable and herb garden. A “no idling” policy prohibits limousines, taxi cabs, buses, and delivery trucks from idling their engines while on the property.
Nearby, the Valencia Hotel Santana Row in San Jose uses an ozone laundry process to save water, gas, and electricity when laundering guests’ sheets and towels. Its guest rooms have low-flow toilets and showerheads, as well as biodegradable key cards. The hotel has also banned all Styrofoam (polystyrene) products, and uses biodegradable food containers instead.
Located throughout the Silicon Valley, the Joie de Vivre family of boutique hotels incorporates environmental sustainability into its core business operations through conservation, waste reduction, guest and employee education, and partnering with environmentally friendly businesses. Joie de Vivre’s properties include Mountain View’s Hotel Avante, Sunnyvale’s Domain Hotel and Wild Palms Hotel, Santa Clara’s Avatar Hotel, San Jose’s Moorpark Hotel, and the Hotel Los Gatos.
Farther north, the Stanford Terrace Inn in Palo Alto, a member of both the Santa Clara Green Business Program and the Palo Alto Green Business Program, calls itself Palo Alto’s “First Green Hotel.” Located near Stanford University, the inn started its eco-friendly practices nearly 20 years ago by placing recycling bins throughout the property. Today, 95 percent of the chemicals used for cleaning are non-toxic, and each guest room’s bath amenities are biodegradable and cruelty-free. The hotel’s croissants and pastries come from Pastry Smart in Palo Alto, the only American Humane Certified bakery in the United States. (This certification ensures that the farm animals used to make the dairy products and eggs in Pastry Smart’s products were humanely treated.) In addition to using low-flow toilets, energy efficient light bulbs, and recycled paper products, the hotel purchases renewable energy from the city of Palo Alto. Ten of the inn’s guest rooms have special air and water filters installed for guests who are sensitive to the environment. The hotel’s heated saltwater pool does not contain chlorine.
Palo Alto is also home to the Crowne Plaza Cabaña Hotel, one of only a handful of California hotels powered by solar energy. The hotel has its own “solar farm‚” which produces 20 percent of its energy needs.
On the San Mateo coast, the Oceano Hotel and Spa in Half Moon Bay features organic bamboo linens, allergy-free mattresses, chemical-free room cleaning, an ozone laundry facility using biodegradable cleaning products, low-wattage lighting indoors and outdoors, and preferred parking for guests who drive low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.
Green Hotels Farther Afield
The four-star Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco was the first California hotel to receive LEED certification by the United States Green Building Council. Built from the ground up with sustainable materials, the hotel is adorned with art from locally renowned artists. Its onsite eatery, Roots, was named San Francisco’s Best Organic Restaurant in 2009 by San Francisco Weekly.
Also LEED-certified, the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel in American Canyon boasts more than 100 green features, including solar electric systems, passive heating and cooling strategies, a lagoon for native aquatic birds, an ozone laundry system, dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint finishes.
The Bardessono Hotel in Yountville was constructed with reused materials, including limestone from an old wine cellar. An underground well system heats and cools the guest rooms, which feature recyclable, organic, or green-certified furnishings. Guests are allowed complimentary use of the hotel’s Lexus hybrid vehicle.