A Natural Getaway
Delray Beach’s Sundy House may not bear the state’s official seal of approval, but this boutique inn is green all over.
You won’t find Sundy House on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Web site under “green lodging,” but the Delray Beach inn is environmentally friendly in ways few designated hotels could ever be.
Let’s start with the tropical forest that nearly engulfs the property, only a few blocks from Delray’s lively main drag, Atlantic Avenue. The inn’s Taru Gardens form an oxygen-creating canopy, alive with nearly 500 species and varieties of plants, some bearing edible flowers and fruits. Many of the plants came from the Amazon rainforest, where the gardens’ caretaker, Har Mahdeem, spent 10 years as the young son of missionary parents.
It’s a jungle in here, with a pond stocked with black fish from the Amazon and Orinoco river systems between Colombia and Venezuela, two macaws and a lone iguana that survived the winter cold spells (several of its brethren living in the gardens weren’t so lucky).
Sundy House’s lagoon-like pool is almost as natural as the surrounding foliage and the tiny exotic fish that nibble on the pool’s algae—and, sometimes, the swimmers. The inn’s avid environmentalist owner, Tom Worrell, fought state regulators to provide guests with a freshwater pool, the only one of its kind at a Florida hotel. Instead of using chemicals to kill bacteria, Worrell employs a radiation filtration system with ultraviolet light that sanitizes the water. The water is clear, though it looks dark because of the color of the pool’s sides and bottom.
The unique experience of Sundy House, named for Delray’s first mayor, John Sundy, continues indoors. The Stable Building, with its pool view, features six equestrian-themed guestrooms with kitchenettes. The Townhouse Building, overlooking the Taru Gardens, has four one- and two-bedroom apartments, each individually decorated to be funky and fun (one room has a king bed suspended from the ceiling by cables), and all with kitchens and separate living areas. The Historic Cottage, situated in the gardens, boasts a full kitchen and dining room, fireplace and master bedroom suite, and is a favorite of honeymooners.
With its gourmet restaurant and patio bar, Sundy House has the trimmings of a luxury resort, but don’t expect to be pampered by the staff. However, do expect to feel ensconced in a magnificent environment that’s green by any standard that matters.