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YOUTH BEAT

New Monterey Hostel Goes 'Green' and Saves Water

February 25, 2001|LUCY IZON

An environmentally friendly youth hostel opened Dec. 25 in Monterey, Calif. It's housed in the renovated, historic Carpenters Union Hall, four blocks from Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and it can accommodate up to 45 travelers in dormitory rooms for $17 per night.

The nonprofit hostel has been designed to offer a home-away-from-home environment for international travelers of all ages and to showcase water conservation on the Monterey Peninsula. There are token-operated showers, ultra-low-flow toilets, metered faucets and water-saving appliances. The hostel uses less than half the water of a hostel with normal low-flow water devices. The hostel also provides special programs and activities for guests.

Reservations are recommended and are accepted by mail or phone with a credit card number. For more details, contact HI-Monterey, Carpenters Hall, 778 Hawthorne St., Monterey, CA 93940; telephone (831) 649-0375, Internet http://www.montereyhostel.org.

This hostel is part of the American Youth Hostels network. AYH is affiliated with more than 4,000 hostels worldwide through Hostelling International. The HI-AYH hostels provide inexpensive dormitory beds with separate quarters for men and women, fully equipped self-service kitchens, dining areas and common rooms. Many HI-AYH hostels have private rooms that couples or families can reserve.

For more information on affiliated hostels and membership, contact HI-AYH, Los Angeles Council, 1434 2nd St., Santa Monica, CA 90401; tel. (310) 393-3413, http://www.hiayh.org.

If you are traveling on your own, the hostels, with their communal kitchens and lounges, provide a friendly environment in which to meet people from many countries. Although there are no age limits, you will find that many guests are in their late teens to late 20s.

In Miami, the HI-Miami Beach is just a two-block walk from the beach, in the lively Art Deco district. The rambling building was a hangout for Al Capone's legendary gambling syndicate. Guests can experience the culture of Miami by attending Espanola Weekends, a weekly event every Friday with live music, street performances and arts and crafts. The hostel is at the Clay Hotel, 1438 Washington Ave.; tel. (305) 534-2988, http://www.ClayHotel.com.

The HI-Everglades offers activities for the adventurous. Beds are available for $12 a night in this Art Deco building 10 miles from Florida's Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. Canoe and bike trips are arranged by the hostel, and canoes, kayaks and bikes are available for rent. Key Largo, a quick drive away, offers skydiving, scuba diving and snorkeling. For more details, contact the hostel at 20 S.W. 2nd Ave., Florida City, FL 33034; tel. (305) 248-1122 or (800) 372-3874, http://www.evergladeshostel.com.

For a Caribbean-type atmosphere, there's HI-Key West. It's a basic hostel, with beds available for $17 a night, at 718 South St. in Key West's historic Old Town District. Explore historic sites such as Ernest Hemingway's home, sightsee by bike (rentals are available at the hostel) and join the crowd for the sunset celebration each night at the waterfront. For details, contact the hostel at (305) 296-5719, http://www.keywesthostel.com.

Through March 31, you can stay four nights for the price of three at the HI-Orlando/Kissimmee, Fla., hostel. It is just five miles from Walt Disney World, with an inexpensive daily shuttle to nearby attractions. Beds are $18 per night in air-conditioned rooms (maximum six per room). The hostel is at 4840 W. Irlo Bronson Highway (Road 192), Kissimmee, FL 34746; tel. (407) 396-8282, http://www.hiayh.org/ushostel/sereg/orland2.htm.

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Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Internet http://www.izon.com.

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