For an eco-experience without all the bells and whistles, there's the GALE RIVER MOTEL AND COTTAGES in Franconia, where summer-season rooms start at $90. This is the only motel in the state to be recognized as an Environmental Champion by the New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging & Restaurant Program, which means they make high marks in all the "focus areas" identified by the state: energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, hazardous waste reduction, and public education.
Graylag Cabins | 320 Clough Rd, Pittsfield | 603.435.5209 | graylagcabins.com
Sunset Hill House | 231 Sunset Hill Rd, Sugar Hill | 800.786.4455 | sunsethillhouse.com
Gale River Motel and Cottages | One Main Street, Franconia | 603.823.5655 | galerivermotel.com
— 17 lodging establishments in the state’s Department of Environmental Management Hospitality Green Certification program (modeled after Maine’s)
Although the state awarded its first green certifications only this year, already there are almost 20 that qualify through the state's Department of Environmental Management. Among those is the NEWPORT HARBOR HOTEL AND MARINA, which recently installed "energy eyes" that turn down room temperatures when guests leave their rooms. The waterfront establishment, where rooms average about $279 per night, also donates its used vegetable oil (from the kitchen) to a company that uses it for fuel.
Nearby, but with a very different ambiance, is the historic HOTEL VIKING, which was the first to achieve the state's green certification. During the summer, rooms cost more than $360 per night — but you'll save some green if you drive a hybrid car, because you'll get to park for free. The Viking also pledges to get between 25 and 75 percent of its food from local sources and sustainable fisheries.
Several Providence hotels have also achieved environmental honors or their accommodations, as well as for their meeting facilities.
Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina | 49 Americas Cup Ave, Newport | 800.955.2558 | newporthotel.com
Hotel Viking | One Bellevue Ave, Newport | 408.847.3300 | hotelviking.com
— 64 establishments participating in Vermont's Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State program (jointly administered by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Small Business Development Center)
For Vermont, many of these environmental initiatives are old news. The state created its Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State program in 1998, and it's only grown since then — today, there are 64 participating establishments. One special destination is the INN AT WEATHERSFIELD, which recently completed a five-year plan to reduce its environmental impact; in doing so, it reduced its fuel consumption by 50 percent — eliminating more than 600,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions. In the dining room, executive chef Jason Tostrup embraces the local (and sustainable) food trend, using many locally procured ingredients on his menu.
Indeed, it's easy to keep sustainability goals in mind when you're surrounded by New England's rolling farmlands. Take the HILL FARM INN — in Arlington, a half-mile from the Mt. Equinox Skyline Drive and just a few minutes from Manchester. The inn, located on the grounds of a 200-year-old dairy farm, offers rooms (starting at $125) and cabins (starting at $110). Sure, the proprietors recycle and all that, but their real eco-message is highlighted simply by looking out the window — or better yet, walking out the door.