I experienced my first "ecolodge" in Costa Rica almost 15 years ago—and it was unlike anywhere else I had ever been. Each of the lodges was completely self-sustaining. They were built from wood and stone collected on the property, fruit and vegetables were grown there, cows provided milk, restaurant grease was turned into soap, and dinner was usually fish caught that day. It was lush and beyond beautiful—my little version of paradise.
The ability to completely unplug and exist in nature is almost impossible to come by when traveling today—so I would jump at the opportunity to stay at any of these incredible places.
Ecolodges vary widely—and many are increasingly thinly veiled "rustic" accommodations cashing in on the sustainable economy. These lodges, however, are the real thing—they provide indulgence without any eco-guilt, while supporting their local communities, wildlife, and ecology.
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Lauren Gropper is the Creative Braintrust Sustainability Expert and CEO of Repurpose, Inc.