Here’s what it’s like to stay at a zero-waste hotel in Hawaii

Xavier Roger


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KAUAI — Kauai is rightfully called the Garden Isle. It is home to Mount Waialeale, often called the “wettest place on earth” and the genesis for the island’s seven rivers. This network of rivers feeds Kauai’s incredibly green landscape and countless cascading waterfalls between the mountain ridges. In Hanalei Bay, one of the wetter, lusher parts of the island where passing rain showers are a daily occurrence, Kauai’s raw beauty is on full display. 

This is exactly what Kauai’s newest hotel overlooking the bay, 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, is seeking to capture.

1 Hotel Hanalei Bay makes the edenic bay the focal point of the hotel.

The open-air hotel is designed to blur the boundaries between the inside and outside, creating a seamless oasis (which requires less lighting). Native and tropical plants greet guests as they arrive on the property, and because this is their natural environment, require less water and maintenance to thrive.

The building itself is painted a muted green from a formerly bright white to reduce light pollution and blend into the landscape to avoid distracting birds. Green roofs feature drought-tolerant indigenous plants like pili grass to reduce the need for air-conditioning. Even the fitness center uses recycled rubber flooring.


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