Green Books Campaign: Authentic EcoLodges

Posted by Trish Riley, November 10, 2010

Authentic EcoLodges by Hitesh Mehta

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

Authentic EcoLodges is a new book by ecolodge designer Hitesh Mehta, who traveled the world to find the most sustainable places. The book features 300 incredibly beautiful photos, all taken by Mehta, architectural illustrations and site plans for each of the lodges featured. The weighty, 12 x 10-inch book published by Harper Collins is covered with heavy-gauge card board that feels gentle yet sturdy, its pages printed on environmentally friendly FSC-certified paper.

Mehta is an accomplished guide to these gardens of Eden scattered around the planet. An Indian raised in Kenya and currently living in Fort Lauderdale, Mehta calls himself a global citizen. A world Hall of Fame Cricket player in Kenya, Mehta went on to Berkeley in California for his masters degree and served as a landscape architect with the renowned EDSA design firm, where he created landmark ecolodges and resorts in exotic locales around the world.

I had the fortune to meet Mehta several years ago, when an editor asked me to track him down for a story since I, too, lived in Fort Lauderdale. As a landscape architect and board member of the International Ecotourism Society, he had established himself as a world authority on ecolodges. He shared with me the criteria he applies when assessing whether a lodge meets his standards for sustainability.

First, the place must meet these three main principles of ecotourism: 1) Conserve and protect nature, 2) Work with and benefit the local community, and 3) Offer educational and interpretive programs to educate tourists and employees about the surrounding natural environment. Beyond these basics, a lodge must meet at least two additional criteria regarding water conservation, solid waste and sewage management, renewable energy and passive wind and solar design, local and sustainable building materials, site impact, and local community education.

Mehta’s new book was just a dream that he shared at the time… its manifestation today is a testament to his skill at making his dreams come true. For the past few years he’s been traveling the world, visiting and assessing the most luxurious and exotic lodges available, many of which he designed, with an eye toward finding the very best to recommend. Mehta’s dual goal with the book is to help readers understand what makes an ecolodge sustainable, and why that is preferable to the traditional mode of travel, which can be very hard on the natural environment and local communities. Leafing through this coffee-table edition transports readers to the most intriguing places in the world – romantic lodges nestled against waterfalls, tree houses perched in lush rainforests, tent camps rising from arid deserts with wild animals roaming past. Along with his rich collection of original photos, Mehta provides descriptions of the design, cuisine and available activities at each unique destination.

Authentic EcoLodges could serve as the perfect travel guide for the rest of one’s life. Enjoy!

–Trish Riley is an award-winning environmental journalist. She’s the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guides to Green Living and Greening Your Business as well as several eco-travel guides. Read her story on Hitesh Mehta in Hemispheres magazine here: Hemispheres HITESH MEHTA

The Green Books Campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on at Green Books Campaign.