A new breed of hotels where luxury means never having to recycle your towels

Everyone knows the little card in the corner of a hotel bathroom, asking if you wouldn’t mind helping the planet by reusing your towel.

No one wants to reuse the towel. ‘Ick’ factors aside, no one believes the little card. As if the laundry room uses Seventh Generation detergent; the hotel’s just cheap. And at these prices? Ha!

The towel heads for the floor. And every time you shave, you struggle to keep your eyes from looking, guiltily, at the little card.

That’s changing at a new breed of hotels where luxury means never having to say you’re sorry.

According to general manager Stefan Mühle, the Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco is “green from the inside out.” Located between the city’s financial district and Chinatown, Orchard Garden is a certified “green” construction, doesn’t house smokers and uses a guestroom key card energy control system — as well as chem-free cleaning products.

Herewith is a short list of hotels where you’ll never have to see the little card again.

North America

Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco (888-717-2881; orchardgardenhotel.com; dbls from $250)
Built to the specifications of the “Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design” Green Building Rating System.

Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii (808-885-2000; fairmont.com/orchid; dbls from $450)
Rooms use only nontoxic cleaners; organic landscaping.

Onyx Hotel, Boston (888-660-6699; onyxhotel.com; dbls from $276)
Received the 2006 Good Earthkeeping Award from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Quebec (418-665-3703; Fairmont.com/Richelieu; dbls from $175)
Located within a World Biosphere Reserve, Le Manoir started an Adopt-A-Beluga program to facilitate research into the threatened St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population.

Lapa Rios, Costa Rica (laparios.com; dbls from $440)
A collection of 16 thatched huts in the middle of its own 988-acre private rainforest reserve; the granddaddy of all ecolodges.

Asia/Middle East

Al Maha Resort, Dubai (971 4 303 4222; al-maha.com; tents from $1,500/night inclusive)
A well-appointed Bedouin tent camp with a fantastic spa that won the World Legacy Award from National Geographic Traveler and Conservation International.

Turtle Island, Fiji (800-255-4347; turtlefiji.com; huts from $1,600/night inclusive)
This luxe resort, once the location for “Blue Lagoon,” built schools for local children and created clinics in addition to its environmental work.

South America

Fazenda Rio Negro, Pantanal Brazil (fazendarionegro.com; dbles from $300)
A quaint farmhouse in the spectacular Pantanal wetlands. Run by Harrison Ford’s eco-organization, Conservation International.

Africa

Pezula Resort, South Africa (27 44 302 5332; pezula.com; dbls from $600)
This new resort on the Garden Route just received the 2006 International Association for Impact Assessment Premium Award for excellence in environmental management in project execution.

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