TAOS, NEW MEXICO—Ecotourism isn’t always as green as it claims to be. The trend has become so popular that many hoteliers are charging more buck for less bang. It can be hard to find the forest for the trees.

But the real deal can still be found. At the Greater World Community in New Mexico, you can actually find a forest inside the kitchen of a luxurious rental home.

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Earthship Phoenix

Jonah Reynolds takes the Star on a tour of a 3 bedroom earthship in Taos, New Mexico. The earthship can be rented nightly and allows guests to experience and understand what it is like to be in an off-grid home.


About 25 km northwest of Taos stands the headquarters of Earthship Biotecture: a home builder that specializes in self sustaining, off-the-grid earthships. Unless you drive with your eyes closed, you can’t miss it — just look for the big houses made with aluminum cans.

The Phoenix is the premium rental earthship on the property: a luxury three-bedroom, two-bath home with all the amenities of a conventional house but no outside energy sources.

Earthship Biotect Jonah Reynolds

“It’s for people to experience and understand what it’s like to be in an off-grid home” says Jonah Reynolds, a biotect (biology/architecture) for Earthship Biotecture.

The entire earthship can be rented for $295 per night ($340 on holidays) or you can rent one wing for as low as $170 per night.

Although this home is completely self-sustaining, the amenities are no different from that of a conventional home. High-speed Internet, satellite television, king beds and regular-sized residential appliances make the off-grid experience even more remarkable. “Every piece of it is luxurious, opulent, or five-star,” Reynolds says.

But when it comes to dining, the Phoenix is anything but conventional. Guests are encouraged to eat the food growing right inside the home. Rosemary and grapes grow in the kitchen, banana plants in the living room.

“A little bit less than half of it (the earthship) is planters, so we can grow a lot of food here,” explains Reynolds.

The indoor jungle also provides much-needed humidity for the home, and is watered automatically through a system that recycles grey water.

can walls

Without seeing it first-hand, it’s almost hard to believe that this luxurious home is free of all things conventional homes rely on — no electricity grid, no fossil fuels, no outside energy source whatsoever.

“It’s like a tree: a template that Mother Nature has set about the most efficient way to live on this planet,” Reynolds says.

Earthship Biotecture is hosting a seminar Sept. 21-23 at the ROM in Toronto. For tickets, go to earthship.com/canada.

from the Toronto Star at thestar.com.