These properties cater to wildlife in their environs as much as to their guests.
by Allan Richter
Our regular Green Hotels feature highlights resorts and hotels that go above and beyond the expected when it comes to eco-friendly practices. Because they go the extra mile to honor the environment in which their properties reside, we honor them with our coverage and encourage our readers to visit.
At Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, ‘Glamping’ Gives Guests Luxury
The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains has myriad programs to ensure it leaves as small a footprint as possible on its beautiful environment. But nothing immerses its guests in its stunning surroundings alongside the Delaware River like its ‘glamping’ programs, which mix luxury with nature.
Shawnee offers glamping—a mix of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’—in two settings. The first is along the riverbanks of the main property, giving guests access to all the resort’s amenities. The second experience engages guests more closely with the environment, on an island in the middle of the Delaware River which guests access via a short canoe ride. (The island is the home of the resort’s golf course; for the canoe-averse it is also accessible via golf cart over a narrow bridge.)
Shawnee’s planners have paid close attention to detail, bringing enormous feng shui to the island glamping site. Arriving guests are greeted by a camp attendant, a concierge of sorts, wielding tiki torches and who remains with and tends to guests overnight; the attendant cooks bedtime s’mores and greets you in the morning with fruit, muffins and a campfire-cooked breakfast served buffet-style in shiny chafing dishes.
The campsite is home to canvas Bell-style tents that sit atop wooden decks and serve as guestrooms, each with a queen and twin bed, dressers and area rugs. The site has high speed Wi-Fi, electricity, restrooms with showers, hammocks and a communal campfire. Another large tent called a yurt has board games and serves as a living room.
If all of this sounds like it is for anyone but nature lovers, you’ll change your mind as you meditate on the sound of the gently flowing river or stroll onto the golf course on a moonless night and gaze at thousands of stars blanketing the sky.
The golf course doesn’t just attract humans. On a recent golf-cart caravan tour, a guide stopped at a tree where a four-month-old eagle was perched. Shawnee works with Audubon International to establish protected bird sanctuaries, naturalized with wild flowers, plants, nest boxes and no mowing or spraying, on the golf course island. In other areas of the golf course mowers place clippings back into the ground to help the growing process and reduce waste.
And most of the irrigation is done during the dew period so water is efficiently absorbed; the practice reduces the need for pesticides and helps to prevent disease.
The golf cart tour also leads past the farm and gardens that property chefs make use of to fill Shawnee restaurant menus with homegrown delicacies. The resort handcrafts its own artisan ales and lagers at its ShawneeCraft Brewery, with its brew master focusing on using local and organic ingredients. In late March each year, Shawnee taps maple trees on property to make its own maple syrup. And on-site beehives produce the resort’s honey.
Shawnee carefully distributes pool towels to encourage their reuse, and its spa uses a number of organic products. In addition, the resort is studying the idea of installing geothermal technology or solar panels for its energy needs.
Each spring, this proactive resort works with the National Park Service and with local and staff volunteers for the annual Delaware River Clean-Up, in which Shawnee provides the free use of canoes, paddles and life jackets. And twice annually, in a River Road Clean-Up that Shawnee sponsors, volunteers and staff collect waste along an 11-mile stretch of River Road into the Delaware River National Recreation Area.
Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort—rolling out the red carpet for its guests and its buccolic riverside environment. Visit ShawneeInn.com.
Saybrook Point Inn & Spa
Cares for Its Waterfront
The longest river in New England, the Connecticut River flows 410 miles from its headwaters in the northern New Hampshire mountains to Long Island Sound, where the mix of fresh and salt water makes for a rich and welcoming environment for herons, egrets and osprey that fly over blueback herring, flounder, striped bass and fluke.
Along the shores of this idyllic setting sits Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, a luxury property in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, that takes its stewardship of the surrounding land and waters as seriously as its hospitality to human guests. The state’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection agreed as early as 2003, when it awarded the resort its first Clean Marina certification, a designation for properties that voluntarily exceed regulatory requirements.
Saybrook Point Inn & Spa was awarded the designation because its 120-slip marina touts a boat sewage pumpout station for the public. It also collects and recycles used oil, spent lead-acid batteries, newspapers, cardboard, and bottles and cans from its customers. The marina prevents drips and spills at the fuel dock, and has a pet walking area equipped with disposal bags. And customers receive updates about clean boating practices through a quarterly customer newsletter from marina staff.
Indeed, from the vantage point of what is perhaps the 82-room resort’s most desired room—the intimate Lighthouse Suite, so named because it sits in a lighthouse tower atop a marina dock and offers exquisite panoramic water views—the marina is virtually devoid of the odors of fuel and oil.
The marina is just one of many resort areas where eco-friendly practices are the norm. The menu of the property’s upscale yet warm and inviting restaurant, Fresh Salt—its name alludes to the makeup of the waters abutting the property—features many homegrown and local items.
The Fresh Salt raw bar, for instance, serves jumbo shrimp in a house-made pickling sauce and oysters from waters north of Connecticut and within a 99-mile range. And an Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad features local heirloom tomatoes as well as house-grown basil.
A farmer’s market in town—an easy ride on bicycles the resort provides to its guests for free—is testimony to the premium the area places on sustainability and locally made goods.
In addition to being the first Clean Marina Award recipient in Connecticut, Saybrook Point is one of 400 Energy Star-rated properties in the United States. It is the first Green Lodging Certified hotel in Connecticut and part of the Green Spa Network.
Saybrook Point goes beyond using energy-saving lighting, low-flow toilets to reduce water consumption, and a towel and sheet program to reduce the frequency of washes. Besides doing all of those things, it also features three swimming pools using salt water to help guests avoid noxious chlorine fumes. Washing machines incorporate a water-recycling system.
Kitchen grease is recycled to bio fuel. A trash compactor minimizes the trucking of waste. And to encourage the use of mass transportation, the property offers free shuttle service to and from the Amtrak train station in Old Saybrook.
With these and other eco-friendly practices, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa doesn’t just offer a beautiful setting to its guests—it honors that setting with tender, loving care. Visit saybrook.com.