"Authentic Ecolodges" by Hitesh Mehta ($50, Collins Design, 276 pages)
Eco has been attached to so many words and redefined so many times, it might be hard for travelers to wrap their minds around the concept of an "authentic ecolodge."
Hitesh Mehta understands that, which is why he lets readers know upfront not only how he would define it but also how 10 years of on-site research led to the definition: "An ecolodge is a guest accommodation that is harmoniously set in its natural and cultural surroundings and offers lodging and memorable learning experiences in remote parts of the world while protecting the environment and benefiting the local community."
What follows is a compelling coffee-table book filled with incredible photos and detailed site plans that help readers see inside 36 of the world's ecolodges. He devoted 30 months and visited 45 countries to compile his list.
Even if you would describe an ecolodge by a different set of criteria, there's no denying that Mehta has discovered gems throughout the world. His photos capture not only the singularity of the architecture and natural surroundings but also the people behind each property -- including a Loodokilani village boy who is a shareholder of Shompole in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya.
Mehta leads readers from a village in Canada and houseboats in India to a jungle lodge in Brazil and wilderness lodge in New Zealand. Some of his finds are so extraordinary they
Most are places the average travelers never will see firsthand, which is just one of many reasons why taking a journey through Mehta's eyes is all the more worthwhile.
-- Ann Tatko-Peterson