A gift idea for the armchair eco-traveler

Unlike most “best of” lodging books, the writer of “Authentic Ecolodges” actually visited every place in the book, quite an undertaking considering they’re scattered around the globe.

This beautiful art/gift/coffee-table book was written by Hitesh Mehta, a Florida-based landscape architect, environmental planner, and architect. To research the book, Hitesh, who is from Kenya, visited 44 lodges in 46 countries on 6 continents. Without me repeating what Hitesh says in his introduction, trust me when I tell you that his criteria for “ecolodge” is commendable. At their most basic, they embody the three main principles of ecotourism: 1) nature must be protected and conserved 2) the local community must benefit through community outreach and education programs and 3) interpretive programs must be offered to educate tourists and employees around the surround natural and cultural environnments.

That’s a good checklist for you to use on any place that calls itself an ecolodge.

Hitesh also looked at sustainable design and building practices, solid-waste disposal, energy needs and the like.

Cree Village Ecolodge in Canada

The only thing missing from each write-up, which contains pertinent information and luscious photos, is the price range, which I think is real disservice to the reader. Of course prices become outdated, but the reader wants to know a baseline and can take it from there.

Concordia Eco-Tents at St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

I’ll let you in on the North American spots in the book and you can check out the rest yourself. Both have been on my list to visit for years: Cree Village Ecolodge in Canada and Concordia Eco-Tents, U.S. Virgin Islands, and happen to be among the less-expensive spots in the book.

Happy eco-traveling, armchair and beyond!

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