In 2013, a TripAdvisor survey found that 2/3rds of travelers wanted to stay in a green hotel. Today, LEED certified hotels are available in 40 states and 31 countries, and hotels of all sizes are making efforts to green their operations. But as competition in the eco-hotel category grows, going greener is the name of the game. One way to say "we love and respect nature" is to dedicate the property to educating the public while protecting a threatened species. Here are three resort venues that have embraced nature in inspiring and profitable ways:

Loggerhead love at Palm Beach Marriott, Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

With the world's third largest barrier reef just offshore, this all-suites resort on Florida's Gold Coast bills itself as an eco-adventure destination. Besides energy-saving measures on the property such as power- and water-conserving appliances and a water-saving and energy-saving linens program, the Palm Beach Marriott has focused its attention on protecting Florida's loggerhead turtles. Three different initiatives benefit the nearby Loggerhead Marine Life Center. They include:

  • Plush turtles in each suite available for purchase, with a percentage of sales going to the center;
  • "For the Love of the Si Turtles" program, at their award-winning SiSpa, that donates 10 percent of sales from a 50-minute Signature Massage or Signature Facial;
  • A Little Loggerhead overnight package featuring a private tour of the Loggerhead Marine Life Center, participation in its Adopt a Sea Turtle program, and a percentage of package proceeds donated to the center.

Monarch Madness at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Arizona

One of Scottsdale, Arizona's leading resorts, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa works to preserve the magnificent surrounding desert environment with measures such as using low-flow toilets throughout the property, drought-tolerant plants, organic cleaning products and services, and a staff incentive program to encourage positive environmental practices. The resort's in-room amenities such as shampoo and body lotion -- created exclusively for Sanctuary by Red Flower -- are organic, cruelty-free, and made of sustainably-sourced ingredients.

In 2015, the resort also became a certified monarch butterfly habitat, as a result of the increase in monarch butterflies in the Scottsdale area. They've even painted the rooms at Monarch Madness using a color palette that matches the hues of the Monarch butterfly.

Going Wild at Disney

Like all things Disney, their Animal Kingdom lodge is truly magical - and it's green to boot. They have brought the beauty of Africa, including 30 wildlife species, to Florida. While definitely not focused on "native" species, the company is working hard to promote wildlife education and conservation throughout the operation. From the detailed theming of their hotel rooms, to the rich educational experience provided by Conservation Station, they provide guests a fully immersive safari experience. They do this while teaching visitors of all ages about the importance of habitat conservation. Behind the scenes, the company is working actively towards "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions and waste production, and is implementing significant water conservation efforts. Guest purchases and contributions help fuel the Conservation Fund, which has distributed over $40 million in grants to nonprofit organizations working for environmental causes in 115 countries.

These properties represent the future of green hotels. Hopefully soon we will see more companies making an effort to connect with the local environment in a meaningful way that benefits the planet and their bottom line.