Eco-Friendly Winter Vacations


aspen_colorado Why we love it: Besides the dramatic landscapes and lively downtown area, Aspen wows with its commitment to green living. In September, it became the third city in the United States to run solely on renewable energy, including a mix of wind power, solar power, and geothermal heat. Where to stay: The LEED-Gold-certified Viceroy Snowmass hotel—located at the base of Snowmass Mountain, one of four local mountains—features a state-of-the-art Electrolyzer system to create in-house, nontoxic, hypoallergenic cleaning products. Even the shampoo and conditioner bottles in the bathrooms are reusable to avoid the waste associated with travel-size containers. And the property is dog-friendly! Another option: the Limelight Hotel, which won the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2014 Green Leader Award. What to do: Visit the Wapiti Wildlife Center and take a ski tour with a naturalist who can teach your family about local wildlife as you complete a run. When you need a break from the slopes, explore the area’s many LEED-certified restaurants, including Sam’s Smokehouse, Sundeck Restaurant, and Elk Camp. Then let your kids explore Snowmass Village’s Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center—a multilevel, 2,300-square-foot childcare facility—while you take a yoga class at Daily Om Yoga.

Park City, Utah

dog-sledding-parkcity Why we love it: Park City is all about the outdoors. There’s skiing, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, ice-skating, tubing, and zip-lining—not to mention some truly outstanding restaurants that focus on healthy, local fare. Where to stay: The Newpark Resort Hotel & Conference Center is the centerpiece of Utah’s first LEED-certified resort community, Newpark Town Center. It features 124 suites and 20 townhomes. The 1,350-square-foot, two-bedroom townhome units each include three full spa-style bathrooms with heated floors, a full kitchen, a private deck with a hot tub, and even a single-car garage and washer and dryer. Other hotel options: Montage Deer Valley, a LEED-Silver-certified resort and spa; Treasure Mountain Inn, located on Park City’s historic Main Street; or Main & Sky, a hotel with a wellness focus. What to do: You’ll probably spend most of your time at Park City Mountain Resort, the country’s largest ski resort. But in your downtime, swing by the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, a 1,200-acre, LEED-Platinum-certified nature preserve. Located steps away from the Newpark Resort, it offers tours, interactive exhibits, and 10 miles of wetlands trails to explore. Younger kids will love Gorgoza Park, which offers lift-served tubing, mini-snowmobiles, and a Fort Frosty play area.

Berkshires, Massachusetts

Family-Top-of-Mtn Why we love it: Ski resorts have a reputation for leaving a negative impact on the environ-ment. Snowmaking machines alone are huge water and energy drains. But Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in the Berkshires is an exception: Not only does the resort get about 33 percent of its energy from a wind turbine (up to half in the winter, when the wind is stronger), it also recently began constructing a 6-million-gallon reservoir to store the water it uses to make snow. It’s also building an on-property solar facility with the aim of offsetting 90 percent of its total needs from local renewable resources. Where to stay: A certified Energy Star–built property, the Berkshires Shirakaba hotel features on-site solar panels, radiant floor heating (the most efficient way to heat a space), and a geothermal water furnace, as well as Energy Star fixtures and appliances. It offers a free shuttle to Jiminy Peak, or you can stay at the Shirakaba all day, taking advantage of the yoga classes and indoor swimming pool. Another option: Consider renting a home in the area via What to do: Jiminy Peak features 45 trails plus the KidsRule Mountain Camps ski school. When you’re not skiing or snowboarding, pop into the quaint Country Store; visit the Berkshire Museum; take a ride on Jiminy Peak’s Mountain Coaster, a wintertime roller coaster; or enjoy at meal at one of the local restaurants.

Truckee, California

ski-family Why we love it: Lake Tahoe’s shoreline is one of the most pristine in the country, and the Keep Tahoe Blue campaign works to keep it that way, combating pollution, promoting restoration, and fighting invasive species. And with winter-sport traditions dating back to the 1890s, you can be sure that Truckee knows how to host a perfect ski vacation. Where to stay: The Northstar Ski-In Ski-Out Rental Home, a three-story, five-bedroom LEED-certified home available on, sleeps 16. You can ski out the back door and take a short trail down to a gondola that offers access to multiple lifts, and the home theater, fire pit, and hot tub provide plenty of off-slope relaxation. What to do: Hang out at Northstar California Resort, which features skiing, snow-shoeing, tubing, shopping, and fine dining and has won the WRAP Award (the State of California’s Waste Reduction Awards Program) for the past 13 years. While you’re there, enjoy a meal at the Zephyr Lodge, a fast-casual restaurant that recently received its LEED certification.

Benzie County, Michigan

Village_Lights_Cropped Why we love it: Combine Midwestern hospitality with some of the best downhill skiing in the country and a rich history of cultural arts and you’ve got Benzie County, a breathtaking region in northern Michigan. Where to stay: The fully furnished Inn Residences, a new expansion at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort located steps from the slopes, feature energy-efficient heating, cooling, and lighting. You can rent for a short stay or buy into an eighth-share and visit more often. Or check into one of Crystal Mountain’s other accommodations, such as the Inn at the Mountain or the Cottages at Water’s Edge. What to do: In addition to downhill and cross-country skiing at Crystal Mountain, enjoy the 18,500-square-foot LEED-certified Crystal Spa, take your kids snowshoeing in Michigan Legacy Art Park, or visit the LEED-Platinum-certified Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, which features art exhibits as well as painting, cooking, and writing classes for adults and kids.