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Utter the words “green” and “hotel” in the same sentence and most folks will conjure up images of the rustic ecolodge living that so captivates city dwellers. These days, however, entrepreneurs like Wen Chang are encouraging sustainable sleep closer to San Francisco than Mount McKinley.

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At California’s Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa, guests exit Highway 29 and enter an urban oasis landscape dusted with desert dry appeal. From the outside, the entrance of Gaia (which means “Mother Earth” in Greek) looks less like an eco escape and more like a peculiar pod that juts forth, although not disruptively, among its surroundings. The hotel—the world’s first to be Gold LEED Certified—boasts a bevy of forward-thinking features to lure the eco minded:

  • Tubular skylights dot the hotel’s interior, shedding natural light in those areas often forgotten by hoteliers, long hallways and guestroom corners
  • Recycled tiles and granite create clean, cool surfaces in all restrooms
  • A swan-mesmerizing koi pond that filters, cleans and then uses recycled on-site water
  • Chemical-free landscaping that highlights native and climate-adaptive plants that require less watering
  • Recycling bins galore, perfect for collecting all the recycled paper products used by the hotel

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Naturally, the hotel capitalizes on its charm by offering Spa Gaia and fine-dining Gaia Restaurant, both of which keep wine country visitors fully satiated between vineyard tours.

To check it out for yourself, view the full Photo Gallery here, or call 888.798.3777 to book a room. At time of post, rooms were available starting @ $79/night.