For most of us, a big lure of the ski vacation is the pristine mountains. So we go to these beautiful places (because they're beautiful), and every time we flush a toilet or throw a paper cup into a trash can, we feel as if we're mucking up the very reason we came. Eco-conscious travelers take heed: There is a way to help take care of the environments you love to visit: Check into a green hotel. They're cropping up all over ski country. In fact, most of the Top 10 Ski Hotels profiled in this issue qualify (see "Creme de la Crème").
What does it take for a hotel to be green? Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (which owns Chateau Whistler and Chateau Mont Tremblant) sets a good example: All 11,116 rooms at its 27 properties have energy-efficient lightbulbs, recycling bins and water-saving showers.
While many properties say they're eco-minded, not all live up to their claims. Also, there's a growing list of agencies that say they're qualified to give hotels a green stamp of approval; only a handful are credible. One of them is the Green Hotels Association (GHA). Log onto its website, www.greenhotels.com, to find contact information for hotels that have earned the GHA seal. EXAMPLES OF ECO-MINDED TOUCHES YOU'LL FIND AT GREEN HOTELS:
1. Soap and shampoo dispensers instead of individual bottles.
2. Signs that ask if you want to reuse linens.
3. In-room thermostats that turn on and off when you come and go instead of running all day.
4. Stationery and such printed on recycled paper.
5. A master light switch that turns off all lights.
6. A food composter and/or leftover giveaway program with local shelters.
7. Recycling bins.