Aussie hotel saves planet from roof

One flip of the switch changed the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs and upped the ante for hotels around the world. The Australia hotel now uses the largest building-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) system in the Southern Hemisphere. This $3.3 million installation will cut the property’s energy consumption by 40 percent to 80 percent (depending on the time of year), and a broader energy efficiency program could trim the energy the hotel uses by an additional 18 percent.

The hotel’s new green initiative involves the installation of “Energy Eye,” new technology that manages temperatures in guest rooms and minimizes consumption when a room is empty. Further, the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs is replacing more than 3,000 light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives. Jemflo showerheads are expected to save 11,580 kiloliters of water every year. Translation: that’s enough to fill more than 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The Crowne Plaza Alice Springs’ energy program includes the use of live data from the rooftop solar panels to show guests how much hotel is saving at any particular point in the day … on their in-room televisions.

Your guide to luxury rail travel

Trade a plane for a train, and experience genuine luxury. Hitting the rails in style has been gaining steam around the world, according to the Wall Street Journal, in Asia, Europe, Russia and Africa. In a sense, this is becoming the new “cruise,” without the worry of being pinned on a boat by that insurance salesman who’s intent on saving your financial life.

Many of the luxury train excursions seek to offer upscale accommodations with incredible cuisine and constantly changing scenery. Here a few ideas to get you started.

The Ghan (Platinum Service) connects Adelaide and Alice Springs in Australia and is named for the camel drivers that once used the same route (the rail service was extended to Darwin five years ago). In September, the upscale version of the trek was offered. You’ll have plenty of elbow room and privacy, but it will set you back close to $4,000 for three days. And, you have to get yourself to Australia to take the trip.

On the Thai Explorer, a route of the Eastern & Oriental Express, you can relax in a Presidential Suite or the lesser but still comfy State Compartments, or enjoy the open air section of the observation car at the end of the train. You’ll track through northern Thailand, with plenty of time to explore the stops along the way, but you’ll pay for the privilege. Four days for two guests in the state department costs $5,120.

If driving in India’s Karnataka state intimidates you (and it should), give the Golden Chariot a try. You can ride the train from Bangalore to the beaches of Goa. Launched early in 2008, this luxury rail alternative features massage rooms, gyms, comfortable beds and wireless internet access. Of all the alternatives reviewed by WSJ, this is the most cost-effective. Eight days costs approximately $4,000.

[Via Wall Street Journal]

Photo of the Day (04.15.2008)

I picked this photo by Kouiskas as the photo of the day because it looks almost too good be real, you know? Everything is perfect, from the colours of the earth to the fluffiness of the clouds. Postcard-perfect photos are usually fairly elusive, down to nothing more than the stroke of luck that you happened to visit a site on the ideal day. And it’s why we bring our cameras everywhere — we’re afraid of missing that perfect photo opportunity.

Got any perfect photos to share? Share them with us — join the Gadling Flickr Pool.

Australian Town Bans Alcohol

Well, it appears that dry towns are no longer an American anomaly. The Australian town of Alice Springs has banned alcohol drinking in public places because “large groups of people, mostly Aborigines, binge drink in ‘full view’ of other residents and tourists”, The Guardian reports.

The restrictions apparently do not affect Alice Springs’ 90 licensed clubs, hotels or restaurants, and a park near the town used for picnics. It seems that this ban is de facto directed mainly at the 3,000 Aborigines who live in town camps in the area. Great! Now, the impoverished Aborigines will also be more likely to be engaged in criminal activity (of making illegal alcohol and drinking it.)

Is there one place on this planet where prohibition actually solved a major drinking problem?