August 2007 Archives

Recharging Stations for Tesla Roadster

Electric car lovers willing to spend nearly $100,000 on the new Tesla Motors roadster will have some swanky places to plug it in.

Hyatt will install Tesla recharging stations at three hotels, stretching in an arc from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. The two companies announced the agreement Wednesday at Hyatt's Fisherman's Wharf hotel, where a handful of surprised tourists watched Mayor Gavin Newsom take one of the gleaming, all-electric sports cars for a spin.

Granted, installing chargers at three hotels may not seem like much of a business alliance.

By placing rechargers at Hyatts at Fisherman's Wharf, Sacramento and Incline Village on Tahoe's North Shore, a Tesla owner could drive from San Francisco to the lake without fear of running out of juice. Tesla has already driven one of the roadsters from Tahoe back to the company's San Carlos headquarters without recharging, but that was downhill, said Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's director of corporate marketing.

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certified 'green'

The GAIA Napa Valley, in American Canyon, Calif., and the Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco are among just five hotels in the world to be certified as meeting the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design code.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, according to Ashley Katz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Green Buildings Council in Washington.

LEED certification means that third-party experts have verified that the building meets standards for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

The other LEED-certified hotels are the Inn & Conference Center Addition, a Marriott in Adelphi, Md., part of the University of Maryland University College; the Kandalama Hotel, in Damulla, Sri Lanka, owned by Aitken Spence Hotels Ltd., and the Vancouver Conference Center and Hotel, a Hilton in Vancouver, Wash.

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Green Hotel Summit

Washington, D.C., August 22, 2007—The Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), January 28–30, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, Calif., attracts the lodging industry's leading hotel executives, investors, lenders, developers and professional advisory community. This year, programming will focus on educating the industry's leaders on best practices and the importance of environmentally-friendly green hotels with a new green hotels track that includes a series of sessions discussing how to develop, convert, operate, and design a green hotel.

"While a small number of people in the hotel industry have been promoting the logic and merits of 'green/sustainable' development and operations for decades, the interest in the past few years has shot up like a rocket, not unlike the global population growth chart in Al Gore's award winning movie, An Inconvenient Truth," said Jim Burba, BHN president and ALIS chair. "Green is now being embraced by developers and owners and is being discussed in the boardrooms of the largest companies in the travel industry."

One of the highlights of the ALIS convention is always the presentation of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) Pioneer Award. The Pioneer Award was established in 1996 to recognize an individual or organization for making an outstanding contribution, achievement, or improvement to the hospitality industry. This year's winner is a pioneer of the green movement—developer and civil engineer Stanley Selengut, one of the fathers of "ecotourism."

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The TradeWinds Island Resorts – the Island Grand Resort and the Sandpiper Hotel & Suites – located on the Gulf of Mexico on the island of St. Pete Beach, Florida

WHAT: The TradeWinds Sandpiper Suites was recently awarded the Green Lodging Certification from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in recognition for their efforts to protect the area’s natural resources. Florida’s voluntary, non-regulatory Green Lodging Program works with the lodging industry to reduce waste and minimize pollution. TradeWinds’ green initiatives include an extensive paper, cardboard and aluminum recycling program that involves guests, and participation in the Water CHAMPs program through the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The resort also uses energy-efficient appliances that are Energy Star-rated, and high-efficiency air filters with an aggressive program to improve indoor air quality. A towel and linen reuse program is also utilized through housekeeping. The Sandpiper’s sister property – the Island Grand – was awarded the Green Lodging designation in June 2006.

Green-minded guests may want to celebrate these designations by driving their hybrid, riding their bike, or paddling their canoe over to the TradeWinds Island Resorts, which recently introduced the “It’s Easy Being Green” package. The eco-friendly package includes three-nights accommodations in a smoke-free room at the Island Grand or Sandpiper Suites, two tickets to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, one day beach trolley pass for two, dolphin watch or sunset sailing cruise for two, and a double travel hammock as a take-home souvenir. Beginning at just $674* at the Island Grand, the package also includes one sea turtle adoption from the Clearwater Aquarium, complete with adoption papers, a biography and photos of the extraordinary sea creature.

The TradeWinds Island Grand has also retrofitted all of its beach front lighting so that sea turtles may return to their native nesting habitat and hatchlings can more easily make their way safely to the glow of the Gulf of Mexico. “The TradeWinds Island Grand is the first in the state to do a major retrofit to meet wildlife lighting requirements that balance sea turtle survival with human safety and security,” said Dean Gallagher, Environmental Specialist II with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee ( FFWCC). Certified by the FFWCC, this unique new amber LED flood light designed by the Lighting Science Group, is a lower impact light that is more pleasing to humans and turtles alike.

WHERE: Located on Florida’s West Coast, just steps from America’s #1 Beach in 2005 – Fort De Soto Beach – and 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport, the TradeWinds Island Resorts are situated on a strand of beach directly on the Gulf of Mexico. The resorts offer access to two great properties in one, with limitless beachfront recreation, 56,000 square feet of function space, sumptuous dining, and golf privileges at some of the area’s finest public and private clubs.

Big Green Behind Greening

More than 300 hotels around the country are now certified as "green" by state lodging programs, according to Green Lodging News, an online news site.

"Offering green programs is a win-win situation for both hotel guests and hotel operators," said Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates in Westlake Village, Calif. "Guests are increasingly looking for these types of offerings, and hotels are finding that going green actually saves money."

Environmental initiatives are a growing priority at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the White Plains, N.Y.-based operator of more than 800 hotels worldwide.

Element Hotels, the company's new extended-stay brand, said that the hotels would be built from eco-friendly materials such as carpets with recycled fibers and walls partly made from recycled tires. Low-flow sink faucets and dual flush toilets will save an estimated 4,358.6 gallons of water per room each year, Starwood said.

The first Element hotel is expected to open next year in Lexington, Mass. Additional hotels are expected to debut around the country in 2008 and 2009.

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Green Hotels popularity soar

Just off the top of my head I can think of a few ways that hotels can save money and go "green" while doing it. For example, everyone knows that hotels do a lot of laundry, so why not invest in energy star laundry machines and dryers. Another easy thing to do would be to set the automatic thermostat a little higher, as they are always set for a cool 70...so why not 73 or 74, its not that much of a difference and saves money. The hotel can purchase a radiant barrier called HeatBloc-75. It is a film that goes on the roof and blocks up to 75% of the sun's rays resulting in less heat to cool down in summer months and a smaller energy bill. Anyways, if you care about the environment enough that when you see an advertisement for "green hotels", give it a try and let me know how the experience went. I will definitely do so myself if I stay in one in the future.

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The Green Seat

The environmental protesters who camped out near London’s Heathrow Airport last week and demonstrated noisily over the weekend had what most business travelers consider a radical agenda: A long-term reduction in flights to offset the carbon footprint of the world’s airlines.

I think my green credentials are pretty good; the perennially threatened Hudson River is literally at the edge of my backyard, so I have an up close and personal view of how humans mistreat nature. But I’ve never thought much about frequent travel and the environment. As much as I condemn their business practices and financial models, I’ve never thought of airlines as big, bad polluters. Nor have I paid much attention to my own actions on the road and how they might affect the environment.

But I think I get it now. We might want to continue to fly globally, but there’s no reason not to act locally to reduce business travel’s impact on the planet.

I’m going to leave the metaphoric elephant in the room—airlines’ carbon emissions—to the experts for now. But here are some small steps we can all take to become greener business travelers.

Soft Goods, Hard Impact
Partially for environmental reasons and partially because it reduces their overhead costs, hotels around the world have instituted in-room conservation efforts. They want you to use your bathroom towels more than once, and they would be thrilled if you took a pass on the daily change of bed linens.

“In the 30,000 hotels in the United States, there are more than 2 billion sheets washed every year and almost the same number of towels,” says luxury-hotel consultant Michael Matthews. “And 99 percent of the water used to do all that washing doesn’t get recycled.”

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Caribbean Small Hotels

The agenda for the Caribbean Small Hotel Retreat was developed by the small hotel property owners to come together and discuss topics on public relations, budget redecorating, niche marketing, advantages of "green" practices, management issues, food and beverage, insurance, hidden potential revenue streams, and new technology trends.

Having been in the online travel business for over eight years, I feel many of the smaller properties could benefit from forming additional relationships with worldwide travel suppliers, online travel partners, travel agents and industry associations. In this business, the properties and corporations with the larger ad dollars get their messages delivered first to the travel industry and online consumers.

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Canadian Eco Resorts

The market for eco-resorts is growing and will continue to do so, said Joseph Hnatiuk, president of the Saskatchewan Nature and Ecotourism Association, which has been accrediting ecotourist lodges, parks, hotels and tourism sites since 2000 under a program approved by the International Ecotourism Society.

Featuring geothermal heating and cooling, solar hot water and electricity, the development will break ground in spring 2008 along the Ottawa River, northeast of Ottawa near rapids that draw whitewater rafters and kayakers from around the world.

Whitewater Village will be surrounded by a 4,000-acre land trust to keep further development at bay, aims to be carbon neutral and will have a peat moss sanitation system. The exterior of the cottages, generally two-storey structures of 1,700 square feet, will be constructed of logs certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

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US Green Hotes

Let's face it, hotels haven't always been model citizens of the Global Village when it comes to protecting Mother Earth.

How many times have you walked into a hotel room to find the air conditioner blasting. Those freon fueled vicissitudes that control many hotel room climates can not be good for the environment. Furthermore, in the past, hotel and resort developers have cleared forests and moved rivers to get their golf courses, man made beaches, and monolithic resorts in just the right spot. And have you ever seen how liberally some of the cleaning crew uses aerosol spray?

However, what's in the past is in the past, and recently many hotels have become leaders in the green movement. These days, environmentalism is more than a political issue or a hippie pastime, it is a culture.

With that in mind we have culled together the Best Green Hotels in the U.S. that ooze green culture. There are literally thousands of hotels across the world employing green policies of some kind, but these hotels truly represent the best of green culture. Whether you are traveling to Portland, Oregon for business, New Mexico for a getaway, or Santa Cruz to get high and surf, the hotels on this list are for fans of Vanity Fair Green Issue cover cub Knut.

Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco
The Orchard Garden makes the green list for a very big reason--it's the only hotel built to the nationally accepted standards for green buildings put forth by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In-room the hotel employs environmentally friendly policies like a key card energy control system, chemical-free cleaning products, recycling bins, soy-based inks and a strict no-smoking policy.

An added green bonus? During our stay there, one of the elevators smelled like something really green. Plus the hotel is still offering opening intro rates of $169 so it's also a bargain.

Alma Del Monte, Taos, New Mexico
The Alma del Monte, a five-bedroom luxury rental, makes the list for its top-to-bottom green design. The place uses solar panels, rainwater harvesting, has Pumice-crete adobe style walls, an addition made of recycled Styrofoam, low-volume toilets, and energy saving fluorescent light fixtures. The hotel also does composting, recycling, rainwater harvesting and cleaning with green products. Perhaps the best eco-friendly part of the place? The straw bale dog house (shown here) for your furry companions.

Hotel Green, Nantucket, Mass.
With a name like Hotel Green, this little inn in Nantucket from shoe designer Vanessa Noel was bound to get on our best green hotels list. But it's actually green inside too with an organic restaurant, 10 rooms filled with some recycled furniture (think cardboard chairs), hemp towels, artwork with milk-based paints and all-natural cleaning products. Perhaps the piece de resistance here is the web site. The site say it's conserving energy by simply stating its phone number and email address with only a photo page to supplement it. Uh-oh, does this mean green HTML is going to be the next, next thing?

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Eight Green Shanghai Hotels

Eight hotels from Shanghai have been awarded "Golden Leaf" and "Silver Leaf" nameplates, symbols that they have become eco-friendly hotels.

According to local media, the eight hotels are Xingguo Hotel, Hotel Zhongyou International Shanghai, Golden Jade Sunshine Hotel Shanghai, Holiday Inn Vista Shanghai, Ying Yuan Hotel, Shanghai Jianke Hotel, Jiading Hotel, Kai Hao Hotel Shanghai. They are the first batch of hotels that have been awarded the honor in the city.

Shanghai Municipal Tourism Commission says that by the end of this year, there must be green hotels in each district and county of the city and by 2010 World Expo, more than 60 percent of the hotels of the city have to meet the China National Tourism Administration's Green Hotel standard.

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National and State Park Hotes

20+ lodging properties located in America’s most awesome, breathtaking national and state parks have joined the elite corps of “Green” Hotels Association® members. All the resorts, hotels and lodging properties in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Ohio State Park Resorts & Conference Centers and North Georgia State Parks and Conference Centers and others managed by Amfac Parks & Resorts have recently joined “Green” Hotels Association®.

Commitment by the management of these fabulous properties and their staff for “greening” these properties is the result of their enthusiasm for learning and instituting important, new ways to protect and preserve these locations for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.

Located in national and state parks stretching through nine states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Utah and Wyoming) and encompassing 37 lodging properties with 5,723 guestrooms, many of these properties are popular throughout the year.

Amfac is the largest park-management company in the US, and employs approximately 7,200 people during the peak season. Their mission is to be recognized as the leader in park and resort hospitality, and they want guests to be assured of professionally-managed hotels. With continued emphasis on environmentally-friendly tourism, Amfac’s environmental preservation and recycling programs at national parks have achieved widespread acclaim. More than 341 tons was recycled at Yellowstone in 1997, including aluminum, glass, cardboard, newspaper, computer paper, office paper and magazines. The Lied Conference Center uses bio-mass, a renewable fuel source, to generate heat, cooling and hot water.

With over 5,700 rooms committed, these properties normally accommodate hundreds of thousands of guests each year. Over 2,100 guestrooms in 9 locations at Yellowstone National Park and over 1,100 guestrooms at 9 sites in Grand Canyon National Park are included in the new membership. When the environmental program is in place, these guests will be able to participate which will help care for and protect these fabulous destinations. The overall results are expected to be far-reaching because guests, employees and vendor’s representatives will take new “green” ideas to their homes, businesses and communities.

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Travelers seek low-impact lodging.

The revolution is here, and it's
green. But get packing -- this movement is on vacation as travelers
increasingly demand green lodging options.

Words like "global warming" and "sustainable" -- once just
techno-jargon -- are now in the mainstream as the environmental movement
takes new shape and a sharper focus.

We're reducing carbon footprints. Decreasing chemicals. Increasing
organics. We're protecting the earth's natural resources and saving the
planet. And not just on home turf, but with suitcases and hiking shoes as
we travel the globe.

What is Green?

What does green really mean? In short, going "green" means to change
everyday habits as a way to preserve the earth for future generations.

In the lodging industry, green practices have been slow but increasing.
Several years ago, scores of hotels implemented on-demand towel and sheet
laundering as a way to reduce water and energy consumption. A
TripAdvisor.com survey recently reported that nearly 80 percent of
worldwide travelers willingly take part in such programs.

And it's a good thing as hotels are large consumers of resources.
Studies show that average hotels use over 200 gallons of water per day, per
room. And the hospitality industry spends $3.7 billion a year on energy.

Those numbers add up quickly, making recycle-the-sheets programs a
meager but noble start.

Travel in good conscious

Travelers don't want to leave their sustainable practices at home,
notes Glenn Hasek, editor of Green Lodging News, an online newsletter
dedicated to greening the hospitality industry. "People recycle at home,"
he says. "They use compact fluorescent bulbs, and they expect to see the
same on the road. In fact, they are disappointed if they don't."

Studies show that travelers are eager to go green, and are willing to
pay more to do so. The TripAdvisor survey reports that nearly 70 percent of
travelers believe environmentally-friendly measures in lodging are making a
difference. Over 30 percent said they would pay more to stay at an
environmentally-friendly hotel.

GreenVacationHub offers green portal

Lisa Gray, founder of http://www.GreenVacationHub.com, agrees with the
survey results. GreenVacationHub.com is a global guide that links travelers
with accommodations that emphasize good health and green practices. At the
Hub, travelers can conduct detailed searches to find accommodations to fit
specific needs -- from luxury smoke-free hotels, to remote eco-tourist
destinations.

Created earlier this year, the Hub is experiencing rapid growth with
more than 200 comprehensive, international listings of green
accommodations. Hotels span the globe and a variety of green practices --
from a straw-bale house in Montana, to intimate bed and breakfasts in New
Zealand, and eco-tourism destinations in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Lodging providers conduct a self-evaluation covering six environmental
areas: energy efficiency, water efficiency, recycling, air quality, food,
and fragrance-free. Accommodations are both remote and urban, spare and
luxurious, mom & pop and corporate. For example, Kimpton Hotels, a
collection of upscale boutique hotels, recently listed 40 of its EarthCare
sites on GreenVacationHub.

Gray is thrilled to see the breadth of Hub members.

"We encourage places that are transforming to more earth-friendly
actions," she explains. "We want to reward accommodations for making
efforts toward sustainable practices."

And as surveys indicate, rewards -- for travelers, hoteliers and the
planet -- come in all shades of green.

Truckee Hotels

The spiffy, new Cedar House Sport Hotel ($$$-$$$$) is geared toward active travelers who want a bit of style at night. Think high-end Ikea meets mod-Italian—platform beds with chrome and leather details, and feather-light high-thread-count duvets. Rooms are in several small, satellite buildings designed with a nod to green: nearly the whole place was constructed of recycled materials. Ask about outdoor-sports packages.

Carbon Offets

STI has created a unique carbon offset program for the Club by calculating Quintess, LRW’s Carbon Footprint: the total carbon dioxide emissions associated with the internal operations of each home. This includes:

**Home electricity consumption expressed in kilowatt-hours or megawatt-hours on a month-to-month basis;

**Square footage of common areas;

**Total number of rooms;

**Average occupancy rates; and

**Estimated total number of guests annually.

This program also enables Quintess, LRW members to positively impact the environment on their own by simply mentioning Leading Green when reserving an experience at any of Leading Hotel’s 440 hotels worldwide, or directly booking through http://www.lhwgreen.com/. LHW will make a corporate donation of 50 cents to STI for every night of a guests’ stay. And, if Club members want to make a financial donation on their own, they can use the STI carbon calculator, which is on the Quintess, LRW website, to calculate how much would be needed to offset the carbon footprint from their travel beyond their stays in Club homes.

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Green Leaders

In the past few years, most hotels have adopted some kind of “green” policy, asking guests to conserve energy, water and re-use bed linens and towels. For both the environment and the hotel’s bottom line, it’s a positive step. However, the greening of the hospitality industry shouldn’t stop there.

In an effort to promote real environmental and hospitality policy change, EcoRooms & EcoSuites (www.EcoRooms.com) — an online directory of environmentally oriented hotels, resorts, inns, motels and B&Bs — has brought together a group of the industry’s leading environmental advocates to serve on its Board of Advisors. Together, these eco-visionaries are helping define what it means to be truly green, by following — and when need be updating — the directory’s rigorous “Significant 7” Criteria.

“We do not believe a large number of properties will currently qualify for a listing on our directory. What we are attempting to do is “Raise the Bar” and establish some consistency of what is ‘Green’ in the hospitality industry,” says Ray Burger, President of Pineapple Hospitality, which operates the EcoRooms & EcoSuites website.

“The members of our Board of Advisors manage some of the greenest hotels on the planet. We are proud and excited that they have committed to serve on the Board, and together we will become the leading resource others in the hospitality industry turn to when developing or expanding their
greener hotel programs,” Burger adds.

Who’s Who in Green Hospitality
The new members of EcoRooms & EcoSuites Board of Advisors includes Dierdre Wallace, Natalie Marquis, Wen-I Chang, Rauni Kew and Stefan Muhle.

 As Director of New Development for MOA Hospitality, Wallace spearheaded the development and construction of The Ambrose Hotel to its opening in 2003. Wallace formed The Ambrose Group LLC in 2003 to continue the development of boutique hotels. The Ambrose Group is currently developing the “greenest urban hotel” in the US, Ray, located in Venice Beach, Ca. and is expanding the eco-boutique brand The Ambrose.

 As General Manager of Habitat Suites Hotel for the past 10 years, Marquis has hands-on experience implementing sustainable business practices and measuring the business, economic, and social successes that follow the decision to do business with a responsibility for stewarding the land and its occupants for future generations. Natalie has marketed the hotel with “ecological consciousness in action” as its motto and its call to action.

 Chang is the President of Atman Hospitality Group and the owner/developer of California’s premier green hotel brand: GAIA Hotels. His passion for preservation, entrepreneurial spirit, and deeply philosophical perspective on the relationship between business, society, and the environment have brought inspiration and innovation to the green hospitality movement. The GAIA Napa Valley, Chang’s LEED Gold certified hotel, is a monument to the principles of green design.

 Stefan Muhle’s marketing savvy, business sense, and green prowess were on display last year when he opened the stunning Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco’s first LEED certified property. Muhle puts his sixteen years of hospitality experience to use as the GM of both the Orchard Garden and Orchard Hotel, properties that balance boutique aesthetics with environmentally sound ethics.

 Rauni Kew's background is in marketing and PR. Currently working in the hospitality industry, she heads up PR & Green Programs for the Inn By The Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, a certified Maine DEP Green Lodging. Previously she was Marketing Director for a manufacturing company in the Chemical Process Industry for 16 years. She marketed the company’s sludge reduction equipment for activated waste water treatment plants.

“Serving on this board of advisors gives voice to the urgency of igniting in others the passion we have for conservation and change,” says Marquis, whose 96-room Habitat Suites is the host of the largest onsite solar PV system on a hotel in the U.S. The hotel also recently installed a solar hot water system that will decrease dependence on natural gas by 60 percent.

“Education is the key, and outreach is the messenger,” she continues. “If we can get in front of the people in charge of making the decisions, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we can turn things around dramatically and make a significant improvement in air quality, water quality, reducing emissions, and reducing factors which contribute to global warming.”

“If our board of advisors can educate the hospitality industry that 'green' means more green in their bank accounts, we have a triple win. We can leverage further greening, like not using pesticides and toxic cleaners, on the savings from these initial programs being implemented,” Marquis adds.

Green Hotel Trends
The recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2007 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study demonstrates just how important it is for hotels to improve green practices. According to the study:
When guests were asked if the hotel had conservation programs in place, 63 percent of guests answered yes, while 8 percent said no, and 29 percent indicated that they didn't know. When they are aware of a hotel's environmentally friendly programs, 73 percent of hotel guests indicate they participate. In turn, raising awareness of environmentally friendly programs among customers may help properties further increase participation.

"Since conservation is such an important issue globally, it is vitally important that hotel properties actively market their eco-friendly offerings and make them easy to recognize and participate in," said Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Offering green programs is a win-win situation for both hotel guests and hotel operators. Guests are increasingly looking for these types of offerings, and hotels are finding that going green actually saves money."

The success that the members of the EcoRooms & EcoSuites Board of Advisors is proof that going green is rife with opportunity.

“The response for our green program is just amazing,” says Muhle, describing the 86-room Orchard Garden Hotel, which opened in the heart of San Francisco in late winter 2006. “We don’t have to push our beliefs in our guests’ faces. Rather, we invite them to participate. We have beautiful trash cans that look like a piece of furniture, which tells the guests to take part in our recycling program. The maple furniture we use is sustainably grown and harvested; plus it will last us a very long time. The amenities and cleaning products we use are all natural products, so guests don’t have to worry about inhaling a lot of chemicals.”

“You can’t just take things away from guests to go green. You’d just look cheap. We’ve shown that you can have it both ways: good for the environment and still maintain that luxury our guests expect,” Muhle adds.

Chang talks about how the GAIA Napa Valley was designed using a holistic approach, balancing the environment, the cost and the function. For instance, Chang says the hotel spent an additional $800,000 on an earth-friendly ventilation system. However, this has paid itself back in both guest satisfaction from quieter operation, and in energy savings, as the energy used has been cut by 26 percent.

“Our guests take pride in staying at our hotel, knowing our commitment to the environment,” Chang says. “They want to participate. We have a kiosk touch screen system near the front desks that shows all the things we’re doing for the Earth, and they’re always using it and asking our staff questions about it.”

“I’m not satisfied to stop at being LEED Gold. I believe it is time to transform people’s consciousness into a union with nature. Being a part of the Board of Advisors gives us all a foundation to begin that transformation,” he says.

Greenwashing

Wallace says that at the 77-room, sustainable Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., guests want to know what the hotel is doing for the environment.

“There’s not a lot of green hotels out there, but that will significantly change in the next 3 to 5 years,” Wallace says. “Even hotels that are being marketing as green will develop even more green practices.”

“The problem is that we’re also seeing a lot of ‘greenwashing’ — some hotels who just don’t wash the sheets everyday calling themselves green. Or they hang up signs asking guests to cut down on water. These are the most obvious, most easily seen, but they don’t take the time on the back end to look at their practices. And educated consumers are becoming frustrated. There’s so much more that goes into really being sustainable, to being green,” she says.

“This is why what we’re doing at EcoRooms & EcoSuites is important. There needs to be a standard for which consumers and individuals can look at to determine what green is. And as part of the Board, I’m excited to have my say about what the standards need to be.”

Increased Regulation
Even if hotels do not implement green policies of their own accord, some might be pushed into it soon through pressure from government regulators.

In the latest news on this front, Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently signed an executive order initiating new state energy-use policies, including one that requires state agencies and departments to hold meetings and conferences only at hotels with Green Lodging certification starting Jan. 1, 2008.

Hotels that do not want to miss out on the opportunity to host these conferences will have to attain Green Lodging Certification from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. And with the move, Florida joins at least eight other states (California, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin) that have some form of green-hotel certification.

Florida’s certification involves environmental practices in areas of communication, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and clean air. Some basic standards include offering towel and linen reuse, using low-flow showerheads and toilets, using Energy Star-rated appliances and lighting, offering staff and guest recycling, purchasing bulk items, recycling ink and toner cartridges and using environmentally friendly cleaners.

“I think the potential to help save our natural resources is huge,” said Karen Moore, who coordinates Florida’s Green Lodging program. “This has a direct impact on Florida’s tourism industry, which is our biggest industry and has a tremendous environmental impact.”

As the green movement takes off, we can expect more states, and more hotels, to follow.

“The green policies that we have put in place will be a standard soon, probably within 5 to 10 years,” says Muhle. “What we consider cutting edge now, everyone will be doing. We’ve already seen this in Europe. We’re still just a little behind.”

“There’s a lot of claims out there about what is green. With what we’re doing at EcoRooms & EcoSuites, there will be standards in place that consumers can trust, that they’ll know where they can turn to differentiate true green from greenwashing,” he adds.


Eco-Criteria
Criteria to be an EcoRoom or EcoSuite:

1. Cleaning Products – General Purpose, Bathroom, Glass and Carpet Cleaning
A. Must be Less than 10% VOC’s by weight.
B. Must Be Diluted at least 8 to 1.
C. The Undiluted product shall not be toxic to Humans.
D. The Undiluted product shall not contain carcinogens or any ingredients that are known to cause reproductive toxicity.
E. The Undiluted product shall not be corrosive to the skin or eyes
F. The Undiluted product shall not be a skin sensitizer
G. The Undiluted product shall not be combustible
H. The product as used shall not contain substances that contribute significantly to the production of photochemical smog, Tropospheric ozone, or poor indoor air quality.
The Volatile Organic Compound as used shall not exceed the following:
- - 1% by Weight for Dilutable Carpet Cleaners
- - 1% by Weight for General Purpose and Bathroom Cleaners
- - 3% by Weight for Glass Cleaners
- - 3% by Weight for Ready to Use Carpet Cleaners
I. The Product as used shall not be toxic to aquatic life
J. Each of the organic ingredients in the product as used shall exhibit ready biodegradability
K. The product as used shall not contain more than 0.5% by weight of total phosphorus
L. The product containers shall be recyclable or Manufacturers may provide for the returning and refilling of their packaging.
M. Prohibited Ingredients include the following:
Alkylphenol ethoxylates
Dibutyl Phthalate
Heavy metals including arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, mercury, nickel, or selenium
Ozone-depleting compounds
Optical Brighteners
N. Training – The Product Manufacturer, its distributor, or a third party shall offer training or training materials in the proper use of the product. These shall include step-by-step instructions for the proper dilution, use, disposal, and the use of the equipment. A statement containing this information shall be provided to Each Supplier of cleaning products. They will sign the statement verifying that each of the products supplied complies with these standards.

2. Paper Products – Consumable Paper Products shall be made from recycled fibers, with the following minimum postconsumer content: Bathroom Tissue: 20%, Facial Tissue: 10%, Napkins and Paper Towels: 40%

3. Amenity Products – Property shall use refillable amenity dispensers or individual containers for shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc. Individual products shall be the smallest practical size for the length of stay and minimally packaged in recycled and/or recyclable materials. Used amenities are collected for donation to charity or for recycling where practical.

4. Linen and Towel Reuse Program – Property shall implement and execute a well designed Linen and Towel Re-use program for all Guest Rooms.

5. Recycling Program – Property shall establish and maintain recycling programs for the common areas, administrative areas, and Guest rooms. The Guest Room Receptacle must be clearly identified for Glass, Paper, Aluminum, & Plastic.

6. Lighting – All Guest Room Lighting shall be Energy Efficient. No incandescent lighting is acceptable in Floor, Desk, Table or Nightstand lamps. Bathroom lighting shall be either Linear Fluorescent, Compact Fluorescent or a combination of each type.

7. High Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures – Property shall use the following: 2.2 GPM Faucets with 1.5 GPM or less aerators, the showerheads shall be 2.5 GPM or less and the toilet shall be 1.6 GPF or less.

About Pineapple Hospitality
Headquartered in Saint Charles, Missouri, Pineapple Hospitality is an EPA ENERGY STAR™ partner bringing fresh ideas to hospitality guests’ doors and owner/operators’ bottom lines — including FreshStay® (www.freshstay.com), Environmentally Sensitive Amenities™, the greenSPA™ luxury amenity and dispenser system, Energy Efficient Lighting Products, EcoRoom & EcoSuite Programs, Project Planet™ Linen Re-Use Programs, Guestat™ programmable thermostats, Oxygenics™ water-efficient showerheads, the Nature’s Mist™ deodorization system, and dozens of other products and programs. For more information, please visit www.pineapplehospitality.net, or call Ray Burger at 636-922-2285.

Hawaii Beach Accomodations

In Hawaii, tourists can enjoy hiking, boating, snorkeling and whale watching in an unaffected, natural habitat. As the beautiful flora and fauna of Hawaii have attracted many vacationers, it is important to preserve and protect the environment. Hence, the birth of environmentally responsible hotels known as “green hotels” which use energy and natural resources in environmentally-friendly ways.

For those interested, Hawaiian vacation info offers additional details about ecotourism-based excursions to Maui and Kauai to savvy traveler. As for Hawaii Beach accommodations, Hawaiian Beach Rentals provides vacation homes, condos and hotels, as well as airfare and car rentals to customers wanting to travel to Hawaii. Why not experience what Aloha is all about through that unique, socially-conscious trip of a lifetime in Hawaii!

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Shaza Hotels, the regional lifestyle hotel brand, has announced that all of its upcoming hotel developments will be certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards - the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of eco-friendly buildings.

The certification - the first of its kind across an entire hotel brand in the region - demonstrates the hotelier's commitment to environmentally sustainable projects that embody a 'green' lifestyle and embrace the values and traditions of its discerning clientele.

The progressive move will ensure that Shaza's first seven properties - Dubai, Doha, Muscat, Cairo, Bahrain, Jeddah and Marrakech - are designed to follow the internationally-recognized guidelines of LEED.

'There is a great synergy between the cultural traditions of the region and a deep respect for the environment. Shaza has therefore taken the initiative to obtain this globally-respected certification, as part of a conscientious shift towards environmentally sustainable hotels,' said Christopher Hartley, CEO, Shaza Hotels.

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Yellowstone Goes Green

A geyser alert; the greening of Yellowstone..whod'a thunk? In 1995, Xanterra Parks & Resorts took over ownership and management of hotels and restaurants in many state and national parks in the United States. From the Everglades to Yellowstone, the company prides itself on making it easier for 1870s travelers to eat well and travel comfortably in the wild, wild west. But these days, Xanterra also believes that such comfort and tourism should not come at the expense of the environment.

By 2015, Xanterra plans to reduce its fossil fuel use and gas emissions in the 25 parks, resorts and conference centers it is affiliated with by thirty percent . They also plan to increase ”sustainable cuisine” purchases to fifty percent of all “company wide food expenditures.” In their 2005 Sustainability Report, the company states that it made $1.4 million in sustainable cuisine purchases in 2004, up from $22,765 in 2001.

Xanterra’s Sustainability program began in 2000 with a sustainable seafood policy based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and the Audubon’s Living Oceans Seafood Guide. Xanterra has extended these principles each year and now uses Oregon Country Natural Beef and buys organic fair trade certified coffee. They also joined the Chefs Collaborative, which works with chefs to promote sustainable food by cooking fresh and scrumptious meals with it.

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Green Travel in Oregon

I found over our vacation that traveling green is hard! Something simple like recycling is difficult when you aren't near a recycling bin, so you have to tote garbage as well as four people's worth of stuff around the country.

I planned on making our vacation as green as possible. What happened was almost the exact opposite!

I read an article how Motel 6 is going a tad greener, so I went to book a room for when we stayed in Eureka. Accidentally I booked Super 8 (those hotels with numbers confused me I guess).

I found great places for Ashland and Portland though. We stayed in a granny unit of a local family in Ashland. They didn't have regular hotel amenities like cleaning service and I noticed Seventh Generation under the sink, so hopefully they are green themselves :) But nothing beat Portland... McMenamins! If you all are ever around Portland, you HAVE TO stay at Kennedy School! It's an old school that was closed in the 70s and McMenamins reopened it as a hotel with a movie theater (you can drink beer in), a restaurant that had the best food ever and a soaking pool. They have their own brewery and coffee roasting company. I could have stayed at the hotel for the full two days and been perfectly happy. Each room looked like an old classroom with chalkboards and all! I loved it's quirkiness. Plus they had recycling bins in each room and they didn't change bedding unless requested.

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1 Hotel and Residences In Seattle

The latest big condo project in Seattle has broken ground. 1 Hotel and Residences is a 23-story, mixed-use development at Second Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. The hotel will have 110 city suites and 98 condominiums most of which are already under reservation for priority presales (the public sales debut is scheduled for September 2007). The $200 million project will have ten floors of condominium residences ranging in size from 800 square feet to more than 6,800 square feet. The 1 Hotel will be an eco-friendly, luxury hotel, part of Starwood Hotels new eco-friendly hotel chain. There will also be a 40,000 square foot full-service athletic club, a 8,000 square foot day spa, a restaurant and a specialty grocer with local and organic food. The project is expected to be completed in 2009.

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We covered the first 1 Hotel and Residences project in Seattle, now a second 1 has been announced, for the Buckhead area of Atlanta. Barry Hotel Partners and Starwood Capital Group Global LLC will be developing the 1 Hotel & Residences which will be part of The Streets of Buckhead, Ben Carter Properties's plans to turn eight acres of Buckhead Village into a luxury mixed-use district. The 1 hotel will be two towers with a spa in the middle and will be going for an LEED green certification. One tower will hold 175 hotel rooms and 48 condos and the other will have 50 condos. The Streets of Buckhead will also feature over 500,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, additional hotels and office space all arranged in a walkable cityscape area. The entire project is set to open in Fall 2009.

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New Green label for energy smart hotels

A scheme to promote energy efficiency in hotels has been launched by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to give recognition to energy efficient hotels and promote energy efficiency by the better use of resources.

At the launch of the Energy Smart Hotel Label scheme, four hotels - The Regent, Shangri-la, Intercontinental and Changi Village - made it to the inaugural list.

Noting that recognition given to the four hotels, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources who was at the launch said, "I’m sure we will be able to get more on board, because they will be able to see there are really direct, tangible benefits that can be reaped with not very significant investments really, and the payback period because of the improvement in technology is getting shorter."

Studies conducted in Singapore and other parts of the world have identified hotels as one of the more energy-intensive buildings in a city.

And having acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in April 2006, the NEA’s Chief Executive Officer Lee Yuen Hee pointed out that Singapore’s commitment to combat climate change will require support from all sectors, especially the energy and carbon-intensive ones such as the hotel industry.

Speaking at the launch of the Energy Smart Hotel Label scheme, Mr Lee stressed that energy efficiency is important to maintain Singapore’s competitiveness.

"The productive use of energy, which is what energy efficiency is about, is one additional tool that Singapore businesses can make use of to stay ahead of global competition," added Mr Lee.

Hotels currently account for almost two percent of Singapore’s total greenhouse gas emissions, mainly due to electricity consumption. In the next few years, the emissions are likely to rise with higher hotel occupancy rates and the addition of more hotel rooms.

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Steve Case's Eco-Getaway

Growing up in Hawaii, AOL co-founder Steve Case cringed as manicured cookie-cutter hotels took over the islands, wiping out precious natural spaces and crowding out local culture.

Now Case is proposing his own development in paradise: an $800 million, 650-acre luxury resort in Costa Rica. But he says he is aiming to avoid what developers have done to Waikiki, pledging to make the new resort -- which will be called Cacique -- an environmentally friendly and culturally sensitive destination.

Now the former AOL entrepreneur and Time Warner chairman is targeting the high-end ecotourism crowd.

"This is like being able to press rewind and start fresh," said Case, who is scheduled to announce the venture today at a news conference with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

The announcement also marks the launch of Revolution Places, the new destination resort unit of Revolution, a District holding-and-operating company founded by Case in 2005 with $500 million of his own money after leaving AOL. Other Revolution subsidiaries include Revolution Health, a consumer-oriented health-care company, and Revolution Living, a lifestyle business whose holdings include the Flexcar car-sharing service.

Case says Revolution Places will seek to redefine the luxury resort category by making environmental preservation and cultural authenticity priorities at every property it develops. Cacique, scheduled to open in 2010, is the firm's first resort under that model.

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Cheaper, Greener Getaway Ideas

Vacations are good for the soul. They refresh me when I'm worn out, give me a fun way to celebrate events, and put me in touch with nature, culture, and new experiences. The problem, of course, is that unless I simply take a few days off at home, "getaways" mean actually going somewhere. Most traveling is not cheap or green--and very often the two factors have an inverse relationship (the greener the vacation, the less cheap it is--at least when advertised as such--and vice versa). Here are a few ways I try to minimize my impact and my expenses so I can enjoy these beautiful summer days somewhere besides my desk or my living room.

I travel with friends. For the last couple of years some of my friends and I (about six to eight of us in all) have rented a cottage together for a long weekend in the fall. We look for a place near a park with hiking trails that's a reasonable drive away. We find a cottage that will accomodate a large group and we split the cost more or less equally, based on the number of days each of us can stay (we generally plan four or five days total around a holiday weekend). The last time we did this, the cost for three nights in a cabin on Chincoteague Island in Virginia was about $60 each plus tip--though it was a very small cottage, so thank goodness we were all friends. Unlike staying in hotels, cabins usually have full kitchens with cookware, appliances, plates, and utensils, so we take turns preparing yummy meals that cost a fraction of what the whole bunch of us would pay for restaurant food (with no styrofoam containers wasted on the leftovers, either). Environmentally speaking, it also helps to carpool and share resources like heat and electricity.

I stay with friends. Visiting with people you like in other areas of the country has obvious benefits. You don't need to pay for your room, someone who knows you can take you to places off the beaten path that suit your unique interests, and, of course, you get to spend time with friends. Sharing a room or staying in a guest room is definitely better for the environment than staying in a hotel where the the bathroom is washed with bleach every day and the shampoo comes in miniature bottles. If your friend can pick you up at a bus or train station, share a car with you, or show you around the local subway system, you can also significantly reduce the gas you burn--one of the worst and most expensive environmental impacts while vacationing. (And when you return the favor and your friends visit you, you get another cheap vacation by playing tourist in your own town and enjoying the sights close to home.)

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Green Leaf

The Green Leaf Program - a rating system for eco-friendly hotels - is a tool for eco-friendly travellers

The five-star system used to rate a hotel's overall quality and amenities is all too familiar with travelers; examples include ratings of excellence, such as AAA's Diamonds. Today many guests (including government employees), in addition to choosing excellence based on those ratings, are keen to practice environmental responsibility by staying in 'green' accommodations.

THE GREEN LEAF eco-rating program was established in 1998, which works along similar lines to the globally-recognized five-star system, yet it rates a hotel's environmental efficiency and commitment to conserving energy and natural resources.

Audubon Green Leaf Program

TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, an Ottawa-based firm, originally started the Green Leaf program. "We developed it for the hotel Association of Canada, under the auspices of four federal government departments - Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Heritage, and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC),"says Kevin Gallagher, vice-president of TerraChoice. Then, in 2004, Audubon International, a nonprofit environmental education organization, partnered with TerraChoice to present the Audubon Green Leaf program that exists today.

Intended as a resource for the hospitality industry, Green Leaf's graduated rating system aims to provide travelers throughout Canada, the US, and Europe with verified environmentally friendly options, whilst enabling the hotels to concurrently save the planet and reduce costs via ecoefficiency.
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"It's voluntary, so hotels can get involved with the program and go as far as they want," says Ron Dodson, CEO and president of Audubon International. "If they have an older hotel, and it's going to take a while to change this and change that, they can go at their own pace... We want forward progress. We don't want people to be afraid and say, 'oh my gosh, I've got to go through all this to get in this program.'"

What makes a hotel 'green'?

With ratings from one leaf right up to five leaves, the scale is based on fulfilling certain criteria in order to gain points that amount to the lodging's current level of environmental performance. One leaf indicates that the hotel has identified and initiated some measures to improve energy use, water conservation and waste reduction. Two leaves means that they have moved beyond an awareness of sound environmental practice. Three relates to excellent progress in achieving improved performance in all areas of facility operations and management. While four leaves indicates that the hotel has demonstrated national industry leadership, and five is reserved for facilities that are world leaders in eco-efficiency.

"Typically we're looking at issues like energy efficiency, water conservation, hazardous waste and toxins, solid waste issues and environmental policy," says TerraChoice's Gallagher. "The simple one that everybody does is the towel program. And that's a 'no-brainer' - you save on water, you save on chemicals, and you save on labour."

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The Green Discount Card

Max Card, the eco-friendly mega coupon book in a card, gives customers a one of a kind ongoing discount program that doesn't rely on a heavy paper coupon book. Max Card customers experience extensive discounts at 190,000 national and international retailers including hotels, car rentals, restaurants, auto repair shops, entertainment and more by using their environmentally friendly Max Card.

he world's largest discount program, the new Max Card, gives customers one more reason to rejoice- they've thrown down the gauntlet in the effort to go green.

MNews Imageax Card, the eco-friendly mega coupon book in a card, gives customers a one of a kind ongoing discount program that doesn't rely on a heavy paper coupon book. Max Card customers experience extensive discounts at hotels, car rentals, restaurants, auto repair shops, entertainment and more. Max Card has contracted with over 190,000 national and international retailers to provide discount card savings to customers. The unique discount card allows customers to use the card over and over at their favorite places, while enjoying all-new retailers at the same time.

With the new Max Card, you can enjoy discount card savings at your favorite retailers, without wasting paper. You research your savings online, instead of using a bulky coupon book. And that's an important distinction in the fight to cut down on negative environmental impacts and junk mail.

According to the Native Forest Council, approximately 40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste. By the year 2010, paper is predicted to make up about 48% of landfill mass. And, 100 million trees are ground up each year to produce junk mail. That's why using products and working with companies like Max Card that support eco-friendly measures makes a real difference in the amount of paper thrown away each year.

Every second a slice of rainforest the size of a football field is destroyed, according to nature.org. That totals at least 86,400 football fields of rainforest each day, or over 31 million football fields of rainforest eliminated each year. And more than 56,000 square miles of natural forest are lost each year. With the new Max Card, there are no bulky paper coupon books, magazines or flyers to waste. The discount card is used with the website, www.NewMaxCard.com so customers can easily look online to find where they can use Max Card for discounts at local and national retailers.

For a limited time, a year's membership for the environmentally friendly Max Card is only $39.95; the card normally retails for $54.95. The annual membership includes full online access to all worldwide discounts and the personalized Max Card, too.

About Max Card:
The Max Card is a premier affinity and loyalty program provider of membership-based discounted travel, shopping, health, auto, entertainment, and consumer services. Through our products and cost effective private-labeled "Lifestyle" loyalty programs, we offer exceptional value, savings, convenience, and service to our members and partner organizations. We specialize in loyalty and reward programs to help you develop and "enhance customer relationships" that you'll benefit from today, and long into the future. Please visit us at www.NewMaxCard.com or call 1-888-MY-MAXCARD. Max Card. Smart. Easy. Fun. Savings.

Last month, I pondered the inefficiency of a standard hotel room. Well, here’s an example of a supra-standard boutique hotel company that happens to be several shades greener, from their sustainable buildings, down to their organic shampoos and natural cleaning products. And they haven’t just jumped on the green bandwagon, they’ve been doing this since 1985.

Kimpton Hotels, based in San Francisco with over 40 three- and four-star boutique hotels around the US, has made a life-long committment to environmental responsibility. They’ve proven that operating with sustainable values won’t stop them from delivering a premium guest experience. In fact, polled hotel guests say they are loyal to Kimpton because they appreciate the sustainable ethic. A good portion of their clientele are business travelers whose companies have also adopted CSR strategies, and are committed to consuming products and services with the least impact.

You won’t hear about their green initiative on a flashy ad campaign, because Kimpton doesn’t advertise. What they save in the marketing department, they spend on programs for employees and enhancing guest experience, through programs like their EarthCare program.

Through this initiative, Kimpton provides in-room recycling, donates beverage bottled to local charities, prints with soy-based inks on recycled paper, offers organic snacks, gives guests the opportunity to re-use towels and linens, and serves only organic, shade grown and free trade coffees. These are things that any hotel could (and should) do at little or no additional cost, and Kimpton doesn’t stop there.

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