When it opens in winter of 2010, the Intercontinental Resort in Davos, Switzerland, just might change the face of mountain architecture. Designed by architect Matteo Thun to resemble a UFO, with soft, swinging elliptical shapes, and constructed largely of local Swiss timber, it represents a concept that’s catching on at U.S. ski resorts: luxe lodgings that make it easy to be green.
From Stowe, Vt., across the country to Truckee, Calif., you can check into hotels that champion LEED certification (that’s the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program) along with Four-Diamond status, and put things such as water conservation on a par with 800-thread-count Egyptian sheets.
While you’ll find efforts to go green everywhere from B&Bs to swanky hotels, those featured here have raised the bar without sacrificing comfort. Book a room and give your conscience a vacation, too.
Hotel Terra - Jackson, Wyoming
Connecting with the environment is inevitable at Hotel Terra. For one thing, its location at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s new tram makes access to 2,500 acres of terrain a snap. For another, a recently awarded LEED certification ensures that it meets environmentally sustainable building and operating practices for everything from water conservation and energy efficiency to the building’s 100 percent eco-shake shingles (innovative roofing material composed entirely of recycled cellulose fiber and reinforced vinyl).
In 72 high-end rooms—ranging from studios to a three-bedroom suite—the outdoor connection comes via a nature-inspired color palette and energy-efficient windows with mountain views. On the creature comfort side, sustainability is encouraged through details such as custom-designed Terra Beds with all-natural mattresses; organic cotton sheets, robes and towels; low-flow water fixtures; a Zuma Airbath jetted tub; and fair-trade organic coffee for your morning cup.
For après-ski rejuvenation, Chill Spa offers a menu of organic treatments (try the aptly named Decadence, with soy and antioxidant blueberry puree) and a rooftop hot tub with Teton views. At Terra Café, locally sourced and organic ingredients turn up in healthy items like the egg-and-veggie Wrapsody.
From $259 per night; hotelterrajacksonhole.com; 307-739-4090
Cedar House Sport Hotel - Truckee, California
The Cedar House Sport Hotel is as at home in its surroundings as the ponderosa pines that soar above it. It’s also an example of how architecture, sustainability and energy efficiency can work together to achieve comfort and style.
It was owners Jeff and Patty Baird’s vision that inspired the design of the striking 42-room hotel, with its reforested-cedar exterior and recycled-steel detailing. Concerned with preserving the environment for future generations, they incorporated low-E and solar-tinted windows; fluorescent or low-voltage lights with either photo sensors or timers; hydronic in-floor heating; and energy-efficient, instantaneous hot water systems into the construction.
The Bairds also designed the chic, Euro-style interiors with concrete floors and cedar walls that give the place a boutique feel. German down comforters top leather platform beds. Furnishings include sleek leather and bent birch pieces. Bathrooms have walk-in showers and vessel sinks. For après-ski (free shuttle buses will take you to nearby Alpine Meadows and Northstar), guests can taste wines at the living room bar or hit the hot tub. Good sport: The hotel is dog-friendly, too.
From $160 per night; cedarhousesporthotel.com; 866-582-5655
The Sky Lodge - Park City, Utah
Preservation was key to the creation of The Sky Lodge, which inhabits three of the oldest buildings in Park City’s historic Old Town. Sustainability came next. The 33-room lodge was updated to LEED construction standards with eco-friendly and recycled building materials, including exterior siding that mimics historic wood-lap siding but won’t need to be painted for another 50 years.
As a home base for on-slope adventure at Deer Valley, The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort—Park City’s Town Lift is one block away—it will raise your level of luxury. While wind-generated electrical power, a computer-controlled climate system and a property-wide recycling program operate behind the scenes, loft-style flats, townhouses or homes preserve modern conveniences with Egyptian cotton bedding and Kohler soaking tubs.
Après-ski, hit the Amatsu Spa for a Bamboo Massage (deep pressure is applied using bamboo sticks). And at the lodge’s Easy Street Brasserie, dishes such as Old Stove Baked Penne offer a different yet equally soothing brand of comfort.
Rates from $250 per night; theskylodge.com; 435-658-2500
Stowe Mountain Lodge - Stowe, Vermont
Building green from the ground up is clearly a luxury, and it shows in every detail at the stunning Stowe Mountain Lodge. At the base of Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak, within walking distance to the Over Easy Gondola, the lodge is part of the up-and-coming $400 million Spruce Peak at Stowe base village, and the resort’s first ski-in/ski-out lodging.
The lodge, which mixes natural materials like birch bark, woven timber and stone from nearby quarries with expansive glass walls, is a modern take on traditional alpine architecture. Inside, the décor is plush yet eco-friendly. Beds in the 139 rooms are made with bamboo sheets, and you’ll be tempted to stuff the organic cotton Anichini towels into your luggage. On the practical side, showers and toilets are low-flow, while motion sensor–controlled thermostats ensure that no heat is wasted while you’re on the slopes.
Around the lodge you’ll find works by local artisans, from Charles Shackleton’s tables crafted of wood from sustainable forests to Miranda Thomas’s organic vases. Chef Sean Buchanan partners with the Vermont Fresh Network—an organization that helps state farms provide local restaurants with the freshest ingredients—for dishes he serves at Solstice restaurant.
From $399 per night; stowemountainlodge.com; 888-478-6938
This article appeared in the September 2008 issue.