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China to Debut Bus That "Eats" Cars

One of China’s latest innovations—something being called the “straddling bus” (or as my friend says, "the bus that eats cars")—will help alleviate the heavy traffic issues found in major cities.

Part bus, part traffic tunnel, the invention—of which the renderings more resemble a monorail than a bus—not only rides right alongside street traffic, but on top of it as well. Crazy, right? (The video above shows how it works. Though it's in Chinese, you’ll get the gist.)

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Galapagos Off Heritage Endangered List, but Everglades Added

201008-b-galapagosjpgM&H NewsUNESCO has elected to remove The Galapagos Islands from the List of World Heritage in Danger due to significant progress in protecting its ecosystem, but the degradation of the Everglades National Park means it has been added to the at-risk list.

Described as a unique living museum and showcase of evolution, the islands were threatened by invasive species, rampant tourism and over-fishing, however, significant progress has been made by Ecuador in the past few years to address these problems, particularly in dealing with introduced species.

The same cannot be said of the Everglades.

The national park contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere, the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie and the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America, but  serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem have seen it inscribed onto the list at the request of the United States. (Photo credit: Blue Footed Boobie, Courtesy of International Expeditions)

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Opening: Eco-Friendly InterContinental Times Square

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Yesterday Times Square welcomed the InterContinental to the neighborhood. On the corner of 44th Street and 8th Avenue, this is the newest hotel to be built from the ground up in Manhattan in the past eight years. The eco-friendly hotel, which had a "vine-cutting" ceremony at the grand opening ceremony, is currently seeking silver LEED certification, and if granted, it will be the largest new-build hotel on the East Coast to attain this environmental badge of honor due to green initiatives such as low-flow toilets, local and recycled construction materials, and two green roofs on the seventh and second floors.

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Solar Plane Completes Historic 24-Hour Flight

MSNBC (AP) |  PAYERNE, Switzerland — An experimental solar-powered plane landed safely Thursday after completing its first 24-hour test flight, proving that the aircraft can collect enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft all night.

Pilot Andre Borschberg eased the Solar Impulse onto the runway at Payerne airfield about 30 miles southwest of the Swiss capital Bern at exactly 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT) Thursday.

Helpers rushed to stabilize the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot wingspan didn't scrape the ground and topple the craft.

The record feat completes seven years of planning and brings the Swiss-led project one step closer to its goal of circling the globe using only energy from the sun.


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The World's Most Dedicated Bike Commuter

With Lance Armstrong and the rest of the world's best cyclists lining up in Rotterdam this Saturday for the Tour de France's grand depart, we here at T+L have biking on the brain. But with the realities of the ol' nine-to-five standing in the way of most everyman cyclist's yellow jersey dreams, it's hard to squeeze in midweek rides. Timbuk2 CEO Mike Wallenfels found a solution to that dilemma, deciding to trade in the morning commute behind the wheel for one on top of two.

We recently caught up with Mike to talk early morning rides, city cycling culture, and the pleasures of finding those perfect European cafés when business (and the bike) takes you on the road.

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Grass Roots Revival: Saving Louisiana's Wetland

201006-b-oil-tshirtjpg"When oil washes ashore on a beach, you can always clean up the sand or truck in more," says George Barisich of the United Commercial Fisherman's Association, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's fishing industry. "But it's impossible to extract from the mud in our marshes." When oil from the BP rig explosion seeps into the wetlands along the Gulf Coast, it can kill the roots of fragile marsh grasses that literally bind together a natural floodwater barrier that has already been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, people are wearing their environmental conscience on their sleeves. You can order a "Protect Our Coast" T-shirt from Dirty Coast or donate XXL to America's Wetland.

Shane Mitchell is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Shane Mitchell.

Seeking Global Vision Award Nominees

Do you know a travel company that's changing the world? We want to hear about it!

In 2010, travel and tourism is expected to contribute some $5.8 trillion to the global GDP. Lately, more and more of that money is being channeled in ways that give back to the places we travel though. You know what we're talking about: the tour operator in southern Africa that's providing local communities access to education and jobs. The South American cruise line that's meticulously conserving fragile habitats. The European hotel group that's contributing to the preservation of a vulnerable historic monument. The multinational corporation that's lightening its carbon footprint and developing the technology that will allow others to do the same. And the multitude of travel companies that selflessly step in with resources and on-the-ground expertise when disaster strikes around the globe.

Every year Travel + Leisure 's Global Vision Awards recognize the companies and organizations that are leaders in responsible travel. If you know of one that we should consider for the 2010 awards, please encourage it to fill out this year's application, available here:

2010 Application for Nontravel Nominees
2010 Application for Travel Nominees

For more on last year's Global Vision Award winners, visit: TravelandLeisure.com/ideas/eco-travel

Amy Farley is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Hotel Buzzz: Apiaries are the Bee’s Knees

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Recently I went to a Toronto tourism event that featured a honey tasting. My favorite nectar—a luscious caramel-brown with herby mint notes—belonged to the Fairmont Royal York’s 14-story-high rooftop hives (called the Honey Moon Suite), and is served to guests at tea service and in specialty cocktails. The mint flavor (someone snootily insisted it was a hint of “eucalyptus”) comes from the rooftop garden’s herb plots, where the bar gleans much of their greenery for muddled mojitos and caipirinhas.

The apiary is a cross-brand initiative with hives already set up at the Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews and the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver with more on the way.

Honey—golden, sticky, amber goodness—turns bitter and looses nutrients during pasteurization. Hotels looking for an eco-luxe draw are turning to the home-grown raw stuff like, well, bees to honey.

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Walk Among the Treetops at Philly's Morris Arboretum

Here at T+L, we've gotten a bit of a bad rap, because folks seem to think we have some major beef with the lovely city of Philadelphia. Why's that? Well, for a few years now, the City of Brotherly Love has gotten some not-so-favorable results in our annual America's Favorite Cities survey. But I want to remind you: those numbers are entirely based on reader response to our poll, which is open to the public for voting. And I can assure you, we—especially yours truly—are actually quite fond of the sometimes underappreciated city. The only beef we do have with the city comes in the delicious form of a greasy cheesesteak.

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That being said, I recently learned about a newly opened project at the 92-acre Morris Arboretum, in northern Philly's Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Though it's a bit of a trek (some 10 or so miles) from the über touristy Old City—home to the Liberty Bell, former City Hall, and Philadelphia Mint, among other historic attractions—this looks to be well worth the trip.

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Denver Debuts Nation's First City Bike-Share Program

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The last time I visited Denver I fell in love with Little Man Ice Cream (or, rather, its banana chocolate chip frozen custard, with a dollop of hot fudge). Now that the city is offering up 500 red Trek cycles in its bike-sharing program, I’ll pedal there myself, and order up a double scoop to celebrate the calories I’ve burned.

Riding on the heels (or wheels?) of similar initiatives in Montreal and Mexico City, Denver B-Cycle is the nation’s first citywide bike-share, and incredibly cheap (it was sponsored by various big-money partners, including Kaiser Permanente). Purchase a 24-hour membership for $5 with your credit card at any of 40 ubiquitous B-cycle stations (above, see map here), and soon enough you’ll be free-wheelin’ it throughout the Mile High City. Legs getting sore? Just return your bike to its hub (stations are everywhere from the Denver Art Museum to the Highlands, the nabe Little Man Ice Cream calls home).

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