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From Alaska to the Australian outback, these innovative retreats are committed to conservation—with the added value of cultural sensitivity, isolation, and, of course, style. It's no secret that the country longs to tap its abundant natural resources to compete with neighboring Costa Rica on the toucan tour circuit, but Panama's campaign to become the next eco-Eden still feels a little unpolished. Canada Travel Guide For several years, I've been researching a book on the world's most inventive earth-friendly getaways, and I keep running into the same sticky mix. We have been in Panama only a few days, but already we're wise to the promise and peril a little jungle bling can bring.Hundred-year-old shipping barrels are used to collect rainwater, and the nature walkways are paved with old railroad ties.Guests can park their cabooses in one of the outdoor cast-iron hot baths or meditate alongside the aquamarine Shimanto River, one of the purest in Japan.And the TV's let guests monitor their personal usage of water, gas, and electricity and the resulting greenhouse-gas emissions.The lustrous concrete-and-glass walls and cantilevered photovoltaic panels lend an air of industrial chic to this 30-room retreat owned by a rail company.On our first night, my wife, Ruth, and I find true conservation visionaries, like Raúl Arias de Para, the gracious bankerturned bird-watcher, whose radical Canopy Tower guesthouse (see No. And yet a few nights later, at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, a million hotel selling itself as the ultimate luxe bio-reserve, we're issued green wristbands (a tag-and-release program, if you will) that let us indulge in Jungle Burgers ("broiled for the predator") from the 24-hour room-service menu in our air-conditioned suite. If we want nature, I'm sure the guest-relations manager will have a bellman whisk it to our room. One hotel's idea of ecotourism is another's ploy to cash in on conscience.
And they all help solve the Zen-like riddle every conscientious pleasure-seeker must unravel: How can you indulge without being self-indulgent?
Not everything over there is fully functional yet, and the internal links still point to this blog, and will for the indefinite future.
So all the old material will be left here for archival purposes, with comments turned off.
And that makes our stay at the nearby ecolodge nothing short of magical.
Because not only is Al Natural a glorious place to sleep (see No.
Tom Worrell's textured adobe-style villas are made of Gunnash, the ash from coal mines.