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The Greening of Hotels

2007 Hotel Trends

by Kathy A. McDonald

El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa

Eco-consciousness is now part of the everyday vernacular. Global warming, organic and sustainable are the current buzzwords. Hotels, like most businesses, have responded to this burgeoning trend, raising their green profile in a number of ways. Green efforts can be as basic as water conservation measures (such as encouraging the re-use of guest linens), housekeepers employing environmentally safe cleaning products, or eco-sensitive spa and bath amenities to grander initiatives such as all-green construction.

The Orchard Garden Hotel
The Orchard Garden Hotel

In the U.S., a number of new hotels successfully mesh sustainability and guest pampering. Among the more pronounced eco efforts are recently built hotels that weave the use of ecologically sound construction materials and ideas into their very conception. Boutique properties are at the forefront of this trend. In the high-desert town of historic Taos, New Mexico, El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa cleans and reclaims water at the six-acre property via the novel Dharma Living system, producing grey water for irrigation of its landscaped grounds. San Francisco’s The Orchard Garden Hotel is California’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hotel (the gold standard of eco-consciousness developed by the U.S. Green Building Council). Among its green characteristics: an innovative guestroom key card system that automatically turns on/off a room’s lights, reducing energy use.

Further north in California’s wine country, two new hotels are also green from the ground up. At Solage Calistoga, sustainably farmed and recycled woods were used to create the hotel’s earth-friendly interiors, which are finished with non-toxic varnishes and wool upholstery. Bicycles, solar panels and locally sourced food in the hotel’s restaurant are also part of the hotel’s ecologically minded commitments. The LEED-certified Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa also utilizes on-site solar power panels and is completely outfitted with low flush toilets and low flow showerheads. At Gaia, the Greek word for Mother Earth, even the pool is eco-conscious: it’s filled with salt-water, meaning less chlorine and other chemicals.

Solage Calistoga
Solage Calistoga

Larger hotel chains, such as Fairmont and Marriott, also have their initiatives. Fairmont’s environmental advocacy started more than a decade ago and includes an Eco-Meet program, free parking for hybrid cars at California and Arizona properties, and specific programs at each property. At The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, green means a mapped Sonoran desert trail of the property’s desert vegetation as well as a calming desert purification ritual at the Willow Stream Spa featuring an all-natural scrub of cornmeal and clay and the indigenous aromatic oils juniper and sage. Marriott International’s programs involve energy conservation, recycling and linen re-use at each of the corporation’s 2,800 properties. The Inn & Conference Center by Marriott at the University of Maryland, near Washington D.C., is the group’s first LEED-certified hotel.

Expect further greening of hotels as consumer demand increases. According to a survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association and Ypartnership, more than half of all U.S. adults say they would be more likely to select an airline, rental car or hotel that uses more environmentally friendly products and processes. Current green hotels on the drawing boards: The Fairmont Pittsburgh and the Viceroy Snowmass, a 236-unit condominium/hotel, which aims to be the first LEED certified hotel on Aspen’s slopes.


PLH111307
(Updated: 01/27/11 CT)

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