news & features


General Manager with Green Track Record Determined to Transform Chicago Area Hilton Hotel

OAK BROOK, ILL.—Nine months after taking over as General Manager of the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, Stefan Mühle is just part of the way toward reaching his goal of transforming the property into a uniquely green destination with a “boutique heart and soul.” Mühle, who co-founded the Sustainability Committee for the Hotel Council of San Francisco, knows a thing or two about greening a boutique hotel. During his time as General Manager, the 104-room Orchard Hotel in San Francisco earned Green Seal and LEED certification. Transforming the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center will not be as easy as it includes a 386-room hotel, 18-hole golf course, ballroom, amphitheater, outdoor pavilion and 39 meeting rooms. When Mühle began his new job he says the hotel portion of the property’s environmental program “was a bit in shambles.” There was a lack of operational consistency as the property had been under another flag for many years and then had become an independent.

featured vendor video
Polly Products - Recycled Outdoor Furnishings Manufacturer Profile
Polly Products

Length: 3:43

Recycled plastic products, including benches and picnic tables--proudly made in the USA.

publisher's point of view
Earth Hour, Earth Day Present Opportunities to Educate, Inspire

In less than a month—March 28 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time—Earth Hour will take place around the world. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is the parent organization of Earth Hour. This year, the Earth Hour website is offering a guide for hotels interested in participating in the annual event. Be sure to check it out. At the core of any Earth Hour celebration is switching off or turning down the lights—without compromising guest or associate safety of course. Also key is creating an event or events around the act of switching off or dimming down the lights. Green Lodging News has reported on Earth Hour activities in the past—everything from “Cocktails by Candlelight” to entirely turning off exterior signage. Some companies have used Earth Hour as the kickoff for an entire week or month of Earth-inspired activities that include the celebration of Earth Day on April 22.

guest column
How Green are NYC Hotels? Ten Things We Learned from the HANYC Sustainability Awards

As an industry, hotels have generally lagged behind the curve on sustainability but they are starting to catch up, especially in New York City, one of the world’s most popular destinations. Last November, the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC) announced the winners of the very first HANYC Sustainability Awards, recognizing three NYC hotels as model examples of green hospitality and responsibility. In the process of reviewing and judging the pool of applicants, we gained a unique first-hand look behind the scenes at what many NYC hotels are doing. So how do NYC hotels fare? Here are ten things we learned: 1) Most hotels we reviewed had a green team in place. This is one of the building blocks of a successful sustainability program.

featured product
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green hotel focus
Virgin Hotels Chicago Renovated with Efficiency in Mind

CHICAGO—When Virgin Group opened its first hotel last month—the 250-room Virgin Hotels Chicago—what was not talked about much in the media was the green story behind the renovated historic Old Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash Ave. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, and member of the B Team leaders who recently called for a global commitment to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, established a hotel brand with the goal of LEED Silver for each hotel. Virgin Hotels Chicago’s green story begins with its site selection. Rather than building new, Virgin Hotels chose a historic bank building and kept many of its features. The facade features rich, ornate designs including medieval characters, dragons, griffins, ducks, squirrels and more. About 80 percent of the building’s original lobby remains. The Oak Cigar Bar in the lobby is now used as the check-in desk where DIY kiosks are placed.

upcoming events
International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York

Sunday, March 08, 2015

BD West
San Diego Convention Center

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

American Resort Development Association Annual Convention
Orlando World Center Marriott

Sunday, April 12, 2015

personnel profile
Hampton Inn Chicago Michigan Avenue Names Ryan McKenzie General Manager

CHICAGO—Ryan McKenzie has been appointed General Manager at Chicago’s newest downtown hotel, the LEED Certified Hampton Inn Chicago Michigan Avenue, opening June 2015. The hotel’s owner, Integrated Motor Club LLC, an affiliate of Murphy Asset Management (MAM), has invested substantially into the transformation of one of Chicago’s finest Art Deco buildings, the historic 1928 Chicago Motor Club Building. Opening in the heart of Downtown Chicago at 68 E. Wacker Place, just steps from the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and the Theater District, Hampton Inn Chicago Michigan Avenue will feature a grand, three-story Art Deco lobby, a 67-seat 1920s-style cocktail bar, and intricate architectural details throughout the property. McKenzie was most recently General Manager of Hampton Inn & Suites Mt. Prospect. Beginning his career as a bellman in Tucson, Arizona, McKenzie has built a career out of working for private boutique resorts and hotels for nearly 20 years.

blog post
Caller Brings Attention to Questionable Mattress Claims
11 days ago

I received a call yesterday from a mattress supplier in regard to my recent article on mattresses. (See “Greener Mattress Options Can Reduce Waste, Provide a More Healthy Sleep Experience.”) The purpose of her call was to make me aware of a couple of “errors” in my article. First of all, I listed the Carolina Mattress Guild as a supplier of mattresses. Turns out the company is out of business. It filed for bankruptcy last month. It had been open for 23 years. The caller also brought to attention some issues with Essentia, maker of what it calls “the world’s healthiest mattress” and maker of what it says is the only “natural memory foam.” The caller said Essentia is making claims it cannot support. I did some checking and Essentia has indeed been in trouble before for its claims. In July 2013, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Essentia agreed to stop making unsupported claims that the mattresses they sell are free of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

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