These resorts go above and beyond when it comes to eco-friendly practices.
by Allan Richter
More hotels and resorts are learning that it’s good business to take the environment into account in their daily operations. These properties have embraced the idea that customer service and eco-consciousness go hand in hand.
Salamander Resort & Spa
The Salamander Resort & Spa may be relatively new—it opened just over one year ago—but it sits amid a lush wooded area that has a rich history. Confederate and Union cavalries clashed in Middleburg in 1863 during Lee’s march to Gettysburg. Coupled with that history, Salamander’s commitment to the environment and its embrace of nature give the luxury resort a timeless quality.
Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the resort rests on 340 rolling acres in horse and wine country. Sheila C. Johnson, Salamander Hotels & Resorts chief executive, placed nearly 200 of that acreage into a conservation easement, planting 2,000 trees and building state-of-the-art water and wastewater facilities for the town.
That effort, along with other green initiatives, helped Salamander Resort & Spa, with 168 guest rooms and suites, earn its LEED Certification, a designation established by the US Green Building Council. LEED is the nation’s gold standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
A high spot is the resort’s 22-stable equestrian center run by Sheryl Jordan, a motherly, nurturing presence with more than 40 years of experience with horses. Jordan is known for her unique offerings that are bold in a region where conventional horsemanship rules. In her Equine Communication 101 program, for example, Jordan shows how horse and human—the latter with a shift of a gaze or a subtle motion—can engage a kind of mutual empathy.
Jordan’s Equi-Spective program is more immersive, prompting inner discovery by individuals and teams who connect with the horses. Jordan has been using the techniques in the program for years with corporate management teams, domestic violence counselors and others to hone their communication and relationship skills.
“We can have a better relationship with a horse if we view [the animal] not as a recreational being but as a sentient being with deductive reasoning,” Jordan explains. “There are a lot of parallels between how we treat horses and how we treat other beings in the universe.”
Yogis can get their equine fixes at Salamander, too, either in a stable sans horse, or on horseback for a session that builds balance and confidence (see photo above).
The resort offers more conventional trail rides through its beautiful woods, too, but a “Mindfulness” trail ride will give you some quality bonding time with your animal in a pen first.
“We find when we work with them in the round pen the ride is so much nicer because we’ve established a relationship,” Jordan says. “A relationship is not established under the saddle.”
There’s more to the equestrian center’s nature-friendliness than the connection guests can make with the horses. Salamander outsources the recycling of its horse manure, otherwise too acidic, into fertilizer.
Among the resort’s environmentally friendly initiatives outside the equestrian center, Salamander also runs a green housekeeping program and features an on-site culinary garden, yielding a harvest of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables used on the menus for its banquet facilities and two restaurants.
Classes at Salamander’s handsome cooking studio advance sustainability by encouraging guests to cook at home. The studio abuts the resort’s kitchen and employs cameras and flat-screen displays to show bird’s-eye stovetop views, just like TV cooking shows. One class on healthy snacks featured lessons on homemade peach fruit leather and strawberry popsicles.
Ingredients are seasonal at Salamander’s 23,000-square-foot spa, too. A fall “rebalancing ritual,” for example, uses lavender, frankincense, eucalyptus, pine and patchouli. Treatment rooms have doors that open to a small balcony, letting chirping birds provide the soundtrack.
And the grounds are landscaped so there is a natural buffer of earth and foliage between the peaceful, adults-only spa and the resort’s family-friendly pool. Because of the buffer, all you see from the spa’s outdoor infinity pool are the goldenrod flowers that blanket the property—and all you hear is serenity in the form of nature.
If your room happens to face the Salamander Resort & Spa’s great lawn, the property’s centerpiece, you might catch a fox family just beyond the goldenrods if you’re up early enough. It’s a fitting start to your day here. SalamanderResort.com.
Hofsas House Hotel
The Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House Hotel has been operated by the Thies family for more than six decades. Its charming setting encourages guests to walk to the nearby beach, restaurants, shops and wine-tasting venues.
The Thies family promotes eco-friendly bicycle riding, arranging for bike deliveries to the hotel for half-day or full-day rentals or letting guests pick up bikes in Monterey near the Coastal Bike Path.
Hofsas House has been thinking green on its property, too. The hotel installed an 850-gallon rain catchment container that is fed from roof and sidewalk runoff, and is used to add water to the swimming pool and for landscaping. A second catchment container collects 250 gallons to water the grounds. In addition, the hotel encourages guests to bring and use refillable water containers by offering to fill them at no charge.
Trash recycling is also encouraged at Hofsas House with blue recycling trash cans in the rooms and around the property. These recycling efforts have cut the property’s waste pickup from twice a week to once a week. And two dog waste stations encourage the Hofsas House’s guests to pick up after their dogs.
The application of leg power in the form of a stroll or a bike ride. The collection of rainwater. They’re concepts that harken back to simpler times. And they’re just as effective as they were way back when in providing a rejuvenating and healthful getaway. HofsasHouse.com