Easy Being Green

By: Lynn Waddell

ADD TO FAVORITES
Luxury meets green living at TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach.

This article is brought to you by TradeWinds Island Resorts.

We booked the Easy Being Green package at TradeWinds Island Grand on St. Pete Beach to enjoy the beach while being kind to Mother Earth. Since the Island Grand and its sister property, the Sandpiper Suites, hold the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Two Palm designation, which means they meet several environmental standards, it seems a natural choice.

I must admit I am still a little skeptical – after all, it's trendy to say you're green these days – but we figure regardless of how green it turns out to be we will at least have a luxury beach getaway.

We are not disappointed on any account. Our package includes a luxury suite, sunset cruise, trolley passes, tickets to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a tote bag and sponsorship for a convalescent sea turtle at the aquarium.

Beauty of Being Green

Upon entering the hotel's Grand Colonnade, my husband James and I feel the beauty of being green. Rays of natural sunlight from the atrium shine down on towering palms, giving us a sense of being outdoors with the cushiony comforts of indoors.

Our tastefully decorated suite with a view of the sparkling blue tide and white sandy beach wraps us in natural splendor. A card in our room says we can help conserve by reusing bath towels, only having sheets changed every three days and leaving recyclables – plastic and glass bottles, and newspapers – on the counter. (It has bigger impact than you may think. Reducing linen laundry has cut the resort's water consumption by 30 percent since 2003, and recycling has cut landfill waste by 10 percent since 2006.)

We head to the pool, where we pick up large beach towels that we use throughout our stay, and hit the sand to soak up some Vitamin D – sunshine. The waves are gentle, and we stroll along the water's edge until it was time to prepare for a more romantic wind-powered water adventure.

Breezy Travel

We use our complimentary trolley passes to reach the docks of Dolphin Landings. The sails billow, and salt air caresses our faces as our 41-foot sailboat glides smoothly along the Intracoastal Waterway. No more than 50 yards away, a family of dolphins repeatedly surfaces and submerges to the rhythm of the sea. We reach the mouth of Tampa Bay as the sun melts into the open sea. The sky is a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows meeting the horizon of sparkling blue.

When we return to our suite the sun has long given way to the moon, and from our balcony the sea glows periwinkle under the moonlight. The resort's amber lighting along the beachfront allows you to see the ocean at night in a way bright shore lights won't allow. But it also has an environmental benefit that we don't fully appreciate until the next day.

Adopting

After seeing dolphins in the wild, we're eager to learn more about them. Perched on the bay side of Clearwater Beach, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is most famous for Winter, a rescued dolphin with a prosthetic tail. We spot her happily lounging on a pool raft, while nearby another dolphin puts on a show.

The aquarium is a marine hospital, and its only permanent residents are those that can no longer survive in the wild. This is evident as we watch the100-pound sea turtles. As part of TradeWinds' package we adopt Bailey, a green sea turtle that is partially paralyzed and floats unnaturally. We get a certificate and photo of Bailey, and the resort donates money in our name toward the turtle's care.

We learn one reason why green sea turtles are endangered as we watch a film and see hatchlings marching toward the ocean. Lighted shorelines discourage mother turtles from nesting there and confuse hatchlings, drawing them to civilization rather than the sea.

When we return to our balcony that night, we appreciate the amber lighting even more. Because of its wavelength, turtles can't even see it at night. In fact, since the lighting was changed a sea turtle nested on the shore for the first time in 28 years. Imagine, 83 tiny turtles crawling to the surf just steps from your hotel room. Being green has never been so easy – or so much fun.

To plan your own getaway to TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Petersburg, call 888-377-0032 or visit www.JustLetGo.com/VISITFL.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners

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