As the climate changes, environmental consciousness and a sustainable life style gain in meaning. Consuming organic food products, sorting household waste and saving energy are being taken for granted. And those who practice environmental consciousness at home will also expect their holidays to reflect this attitude toward.
Austria’s farming industry already clearly reflects this new mode of thinking: fully 13 percent of farming is now organic. Many in the tourist business have also recognised their ecological responsibility in recent years — which places them at the cutting edge of the ecological movement. Waste management, energy conservation, organic nutrition, and environmentally friendly travel options are now being forced by a tourist business that wants to leave future generations an intact environment. Many individual business have already begun to form alliances in the interest of establishing innovative sustainable alternatives.
To start with — winter holidays: the ”bioneers” in Ramsau
In Ramsau, the area of Styria with a reputation for having the most sun, business people including organic farmers, restaurant proprietors, and hotel owners have formed a joint sustainable ”Ramsau bioneer” initiative. Whether vegan-vegetarian guesthouse or 4-star hotel — all ”bioneers” produce or process genetically non-altered products and adhere to the waste and energy criteria stipulated by the Austrian environmental label of standards.
Around 150 Kilometres of cross country skiing trails as well as marked winter and snowshoe hiking trails are an alternative to classical downhill skiing. These winter options are complemented by a Nordic training centre that is also open to amateur athletes. The nature house Lehnwieser offers guests vegan or vegetarian meals in a family environment. The emphasis on rest and relaxation is reflected in the breakfast schedule: breakfast is available until 1 in the afternoon.
Rite of spring at Prinzenhof
A holiday on the farm is a welcome change for many city dwellers and for children often the only chance to experience farm animals firsthand. Many farms have joined the organic movement. Insiders will want to investigate the Prinzenhof in Groß Gerungs in the north-eastern forest quarter of Austria. Honey, yoghurt, bread, cheese and meat are organically processed at this farm and guests are encouraged to participate. The farm nestles in the ”Groß Gerungs Energy Arena.” Hiking and adventure trails expand through mysterious rock formations leading to a series of sites exuding a sense of vigour and energy.
Summer retreat at a bio-hotel
There are 55 Hotels in Europe that have joined to designate themselves ”bio-hotels” offering their guests quality, environmentally conscious accommodations. This means energy efficient construction of the buildings, organic cuisine, and environmentally sound waste management. The Carinthian bio-hotel Gralhof has decided to adopt these guiding principles. Among others it has a wood chip heating system, most of its organic produce comes from its own production or from the immediate area. The Gralhof offers its guests their own boathouse, a pleasant and inviting meadow, and a sauna house directly on the lake. The cultural interests of the Knaller family that operates the Gralhof have created a culture centre at their hotel: ”Jazz under the pear tree” is already an established musical event. Occasional cabaret and readings also take place.
Harvest time in the biosphere park in the Großes Walsertal valley
The Großes Walsertal in Vorarlberg carries the impressive sounding name ”UNESCO Biosphere Park.” ”Utilising nature without damaging it” is the credo of the region. The inhabitants of the valley are especially proud of their provost convent St. Gerold. The convent has a guesthouse offering accommodations for 60 vacationers. The convent also caters to the needy with the ”Oasis 2000” project that finances their holidays. The provost convent aspires to be a place to meet and communicate and therefore has no television. Horses are important the convent: there is hippo therapy, healing equestrian instruction as well as conventional horseback riding. Workshops and seminars are organised around several themes such as dance, Zen Buddhism, the Feldenkrais method, and fasting. The neighbouring Marul, the village in which all farmers have converted to organic farming, is worth a visit.
A vacation from your car in Werfenweng
The Salzburg town of Werfenweng contributes to environmental protection in a very unique way: guests can take a vacation from their car both in summer and winter. Vacationers are encouraged to arrive by train from which they are fetched. Those arriving by car can leave their car parked in Werfenweng, whereby the car keys are stored in the safe of the of the tourist office for the duration of the vacation. For five euro you then get a prepaid card cell phone and a SAMO advantage pass that takes care of all mobility issues: ELOIS, the electromobile, can always be summoned for taxi services. There is also a complementary taxi service for the night hours. The electricity for ELOIS comes from environmentally friendly solar energy. Werfenweng has at least 40 establishments that offer vacation from your car.
The non-invasive mobility concept has been introduced in 22 Alpine venues in Europe dubbed ”Alpine Pearls.” A long-distance hiking trail connects all of the Alpine Pearls in the six countries of Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia.
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