There are common misconceptions about ecotourism. A luxury hotel placed in a spectacular landscape or a chic resort constructed on a pristine island do not signify eco-lodging. To the contrary, more often than not those newly erected edifices defy eco-travel because they ruin natural habitats, cause deforestation, and pollute the land. A snorkeling trip in a gorgeous blue lagoon can be an antithesis of everything eco, especially if you end up walking or touching coral reefs.
A few years ago the world watched in awe as Dubai towers rose on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile the earth activists screamed about the coral reefs being destroyed and the entire marine ecosystem being decimated. Dubai architects built artificial islands – one in a form of a palm, another in the shape of a world map. The dredged up sand not only mudded the typically crystalline waters of the gulf of Dubai but buried the oyster beds and coral reefs in sediment. The Dubai miracle was also short-lived: originally intended to host custom-made hotel complexes and villas of the riches, the islands began to sink into the sea. The sands eroded and the navigational channels between them silted up.
There are some promising eco-travel sights. Time will tell whether the new Sweden Treehotel is indeed as eco-conscious as it appears to be. Located in Harads about 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Treehotel is exactly what it stands for - a series of tree houses, or Mirrorcubes. A Mirrorcube is a lightweight aluminum box hung around a tree trunk and clad in mirrored glass so that the exterior reflects the woods, creating a camouflaged refuge. The windows give a 360-degree view of the surroundings, allowing the guests an unparalleled wildlife experience. The cube has everything a hotel can offer – a bathroom, a bedroom and a living room, and even a roof terrace. There’s no elevator to whisk you up though – the access is by a rope bridge. The marketing motto is: “Feel free in a tree.”
I hope it is as eco-friendly as it sounds.
|Just look into those blue eyes!|