Hawaii’s hotels are combining the need to cut back on their energy costs with the worldwide drive for companies to be “green.”

People who are planning Hawaii vacations now are beginning to ask about island hotels that practice energy conservation and whether a hotel has earned the U.S. Energy Star Rating. Guests filling out comment cards are asking questions such as why there were no recycling bins in their rooms.

For the record, the following hotels and resorts are considered green hotels by the state:

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
  • Grand Wailea Resort
  • Hale Koa Hotel
  • Hawaii Prince Hotel
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • Mauna Lani Resort
  • Sheraton Kauai
  • Sheraton Waikiki
  • Waikiki Beach Marriott

The Hyatt Regency Waikiiki has a recycling program for cardboard, paper, bottles, and food waste, with a goal of becoming a full recycling facility by 2009. It’s estimated that Hyatt saved about $16,540 in landfill tonnage fees by recycling last year.

Several neighbor island hotels, including the Mauna Lani Resort, have invested in solar photovoltaic panels, but some of the problems in the way of that practice becoming widespread include finding enough roof space on buildings that were built tall, but thin; obtaining loans for the initial investment; and uncertainty about solar’s future regulation in the state.

Aqua Hotels and Resorts, which owns 12 boutique hotels, is also starting recycling programs at its properties.

The Hawaii State Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) is offering a green business standards checklist, and certifies and recognizes hotels as Hawaii Green Businesses.

So if you like the idea of greening even while you’re on vacation, the opportunities for your sharing in Hawaii’s visitor industry compliance are increasing. As you plan your Hawaii visit, pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Web site (hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll plan it all for you, get you the best rates available, and make sure that the accommodations you enjoy will be environment friendly.

I started traveling back in the sixties. Money (especially in the form of company expense accounts) was loose and easily tossed around. We partied in our rooms, much in the same manner that rock groups do today. The trash and rubble piled up, but we didn’t care. We’d drop generous tips for the housekeeping people and leave the hotels with clear consciences. I hosted one raucous party at the Regency hotel in Hollywood that included several prominent actors and actresses, dozens of “starlets” and horny young aspiring hunks. It remains the biggest mess I’ve ever made under any circumstances. It cost my client $1,500 in housekeeping tips.

In the seventies, money got tighter. The partying subsided. Business people became more business-like. That’s when I first started visiting Hawaii, and when I subsequently moved here. The hotel rooms were immaculate and the service was amazing. Every guest was a star. Hawaii was becoming the destination of choice among America’s vacationers. There were no stories of hotel suites being trashed.

In the eighties, the era of mega resorts emerged. A marketing-advertising guy, I promoted the openings of three of Hawaii’s finest. I was involved in the opening of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, the Hyatt Regency Maui and the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa (now the Hilton Waikoloa Village). All three of those resorts featured a “back of the house” that consisted of a kind of inner city – trams, shuttles, accommodations for staff, bustling changes of assignments, conference rooms – with its own infrastructure never seen by guests. There were enormous caged areas reserved for trash disposal, and the trash was taken on a daily basis to landfills that were already being overloaded. Nobody cared much. It was trash.

In the nineties, Hawaii’s promotional efforts were directed to people who would seek high-end accommodations and spend lots of money while they were here. We wanted big spenders. We wanted people who would seek luxury. We built new shopping and hotel venues that would attract high rollers.

Some hoteliers, the Aqua and Ohana chains in particular, carved out a significant portion of the market for families and for people who were looking not for “luxury” but for comfort and service. Suddenly, greenness had become a factor.

Now, even the high-end resorts are discovering the value of accommodating you, the “average” vacationer who wants only to be treated as someone special … and who is tuned into the environmental concerns that plague the world.

The result is going to be lower rates and more incentives for you to patronize those who recognize your concern.


  1. Mahalo for your great site. Your “Looking for a Green Hawaii Vacation” unfortunately left out one of the state’s leaders in environmental stewardship, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. With a recycling program in place for over 15 years, we divert over 13 tons per month from our island’s landfill. Our energy saving measures over the years have reduced our annual kWh consumption by over 1.5 million kWh! And our solar panel covered parking lot, the only one in the state, was completed in September, further reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Our complete list of environmental initiatives is extensive and available in News & Events on our website.

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