Name: Amanda DeSantis
Title: Vice President of Sustainability
Company: 1 Hotels
Years with company: Three months
Primary responsibilities: “It’s to lead the development and evolution of sustainability at 1 Hotels. To ensure nature inspires the brand. To build out a platform that can be scaled globally. I spend a lot of my time with the property teams learning the system.”
Company’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment: “It is really our design that connects people with nature. We want people to pause and reflect. It really smacks you in the face when you walk in the front door.”
Company’s most significant sustainability-related challenge moving forward: “There is no end point for achieving that connection with nature. It is an ongoing challenge and an inspiration.”
GREENWICH, CONN.—In her new role as Vice President of Sustainability for the rapidly growing 1 Hotels brand, Amanda DeSantis is doing what she has always done throughout her professional life—pushing her companies toward efficiency while helping them maintain as close of a connection to nature as possible. “I have spent my entire career in sustainability,” says DeSantis, who previously worked for companies such as Uber and DuPont.
With Starwood Capital Group’s 1 Hotels, DeSantis has found a perfect fit. “It is a hotel brand that is really doing something different,” DeSantis says.
Case in point is the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge that opened earlier this year. The hotel marries eco-conscious design with sustainable architecture and cause-oriented partnerships. The 194-room property that features a dramatic 25-foot green wall in its lobby was built under LEED guidelines.
The design of the hotel features a 54 percent ratio of regional and reclaimed materials including original heart pine beams from the former Domino Sugar Factory, walnut from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and pine flooring from the Old Crow Distillery in Kentucky.
Rainwater Reclamation System
The 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge operates a rainwater reclamation system that will reduce storm water runoff into neighboring water streams. The water collected will irrigate the park during summer months. The property uses 100 percent wind power energy, features low-energy light bulbs, a Triple Clear water purification system, in-room recycling bins, and fresh dining offerings. 1 Hotels has committed to donating a percentage of sales from in-room dining and goodthings (the hotel’s mini bar) to Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger.
“There are layers upon layers of stories behind each of our hotels,” DeSantis says.
The 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is one of three 1 Hotels currently open. The others include the 1 Hotel Central Park and 1 Hotel South Beach. At the 1 Hotel Central Park, a total of 16,000 fallen twigs are artfully embedded into two large steel doors that welcome guests to the hotel. On every floor, unique artistic renditions of the floor numbers are revealed as the elevator doors open; each number is represented in a different design using repurposed materials, such as penny nails or acorns. Preserved moss fills hallway niches. At 1 Hotel South Beach, the inside and outside of the building were designed with nature and wellness in mind. Guests are welcomed with 3,000 feet of living wall wrapped around the exterior with 11,000 local tropical plant varieties and playful art as nature pieces such as interactive hanging terrariums and a plant laboratory from local Miami artisans Plant the Future. The aim of the architecture, landscape and design is to bring the outdoors in.
Earlier this year, 1 Hotels announced that it will expand its portfolio in the United States and internationally with three new destinations, including Haitang Bay, Sanya (China), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) and Silicon Valley (Calif.).
Sustainability Baked In
DeSantis says it has been Barry Sternlicht, 1 Hotels Founder and the Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, who is the visionary behind the brand. DeSantis also credits the design team that he chose, and others. “It was very much a collaborative effort,” she says. “We have hundreds of employees working every day on sustainability. We really bake in how we think about sustainability.”
What she enjoys most about her job so far, DeSantis says, is, “Hands down the people. I spend a great majority of my time at the properties. Our teams are involved in a lot of community activities.”
During her time at places like Uber and DuPont and now Starwood Capital Group, DeSantis says sustainability has definitely evolved for the better. “It is most successful when it is at the executive level,” she says.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.