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HONOLULU, HAWAII—Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, an Aqua Hospitality property, has completed a series of enhancement projects that are equal parts innovation and renovation. Leading the list of projects is a large solar array built over the parking lot, providing cover and shade for vehicles while greatly reducing the popular beachfront hotel’s carbon footprint. “We are blessed with 25 beautiful acres along the coast, so we had plenty of land to erect our solar array,” said David Sosner, general manager of Aqua Kauai Beach Resort. “Our guests suggested covered parking would be a nice addition to the resort, so we’ve met that need while taking advantage of the abundant Hawaiian sunlight. We’re helping Mother Earth and lowering our energy costs by at least 20 percent. It’s a win for the planet, a win for our guests and a win for our owners.” The solar installation is projected to save almost 100,000 kilowatt hours per month.
MAUI, HAWAII—Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, situated oceanfront on Kaanapali Beach, has become the first commercial business partner in the state of Hawaii to begin testing for Maui Electric’s (MECO) semi-automated Fast DR (Demand Response) Pilot Program. In partnership with Hawaiian Electric, MECO launched Fast DR last year to help business customers control the cost of their electric bills while helping the utility maintain reliability and add more renewable energy to the grid. Fast DR rewards commercial and industrial customers for designating parts of their electricity use that can be turned off during critical energy situations with 10 minutes’ notice or less. “We are proud to be the first commercial business in the state to begin testing this important clean energy program,” said Michael Jokovich, general manager of Hyatt Regency Maui.
MAUI, HAWAII—This summer will signify a new phase for Hyatt’s Andaz brand as it unveils Andaz Maui at Wailea. The first resort for the Andaz brand, Andaz Maui at Wailea will remain true to the signature brand elements that define Andaz hotels around the globe, including offering inspiring experiences that celebrate Maui’s rich, local culture. From the design features and superior service, to the ocean views and relationships in the community, the Hawaiian spirit will be infused throughout the resort, inviting guests to arrive as vacationers and leave as “ohana,” or family. “Andaz Maui at Wailea bridges the character of Hawaii with the experiences travelers seek when they visit great destinations around the world—personalized, uncomplicated service and a rich understanding of the local neighborhood,” said Michael Stephens, general manager of Andaz Maui at Wailea.
CLEVELAND, OHIO—Sage Hospitality and Optima Fund Management announced that The Westin Cleveland Downtown will open in Spring 2014 after the completion of a $64 million renovation. The contemporary 484-room hotel is located in Cleveland’s downtown financial district adjacent to the new Cleveland Convention Center and Medical Mart and just steps from Brown’s Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Ohio-based Marous Brothers Construction, design/builder on the project, began remodeling the property in December; plans include the renovation of all public areas, event space and guestrooms. The new exterior façade will feature metal panels and LED lighting that rotates through a range of colors. Once completed, the hotel is expected to earn LEED certification.
SEQUIM, WASH.—Taking the concept of existing-structure “recycling” to heart, Olaf and Charlotte Protze have built a thriving bed and breakfast business out of retired cabooses. The Red Caboose Getaway B&B, located in Sequim, Wash., offers accommodations in six luxuriously renovated train cars that the owners have had transported from various U.S. locations. The couple have three additional cabooses on their three acre property that are currently undergoing renovation. Olaf and Charlotte had long enjoyed visiting B&Bs and eventually fell in love with the idea of staying in renovated railcars. “Most are very rustic,” Olaf says. “I thought we could do better.” Since 2000, the B&B owners have gradually built up their collection of cabooses that all sit on rails.
KELOWNA, B.C.—The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites continues to charge forward with environmentally responsible initiatives. Not only has the hotel installed an electric vehicle charging station, they have just received LEED Silver Certification for their new environmental wing through the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). LEED is a third-party certification program that rates buildings to the highest environmental performance standards in Canada. “This was quite the process,” says Brenda Rayburn, director of sales and marketing for the Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites. “However, for me, the length of time and validation from construction to criteria completion has affirmed the integrity for LEED Designation.”
PORT ORFORD, ORE.—“It feels like you are on another planet.” That is how Michelle Duarte describes the WildSpring Guest Habitat that she and her husband own along the coast of Oregon in Port Orford. Their small, eco-friendly resort sits on five acres of 100-foot trees and includes five cabins. “The cabins are built like small homes,” Duarte says. “They are not rustic.” Just about everything possible was done to minimize the environmental footprint of the five cabin suites. Duarte’s husband, Dean, who once worked on Hollywood sets in construction, played an integral part in the building of the cabins. Only two trees were removed during construction of the cabins that now have been open for 8.5 years.
AUSTIN, TEXAS—Trash and luxury travel are topics rarely uttered in the same sentence, but the two have been linked as the Four Seasons Hotel Austin undertakes one of the most ambitious waste diversion initiatives in the country—by a hotel or otherwise. On November 30, the hotel launched its new Zero Waste program, a goal two years in the planning. “The amount of passion and dedication that’s already gone into developing this initiative is inspiring,” says general manager Rob Hagelberg. “I’m so proud to be part of a team that’s truly breaking new environmental ground in the state of Texas and beyond.” Made possible due to an innovative partnership with Texas Disposal Systems (TDS)—the only facility in the United States to handle all three components of waste (recycling, composting and landfill)—the new program aims to increase the hotel’s waste diversion rate from less than 10 percent to 90 percent,.
VINELAND, N.J.—Could the Ramada Vineland be the first property its size to receive a monthly electricity bill of $0? Possibly. That is what happened in October at the 102-room property in Vineland, N.J. Time will tell if the Ramada will maintain its “net zero hotel” status but NGL Property Management’s John Scipione, owner of the hotel with his family, believes it is possible. What lowered the hotel’s electricity bill from $15,000/month to $5,000/month over the last couple of years is a $2.6 million, 2,500-solar panel installation behind the property. It sits on three acres of land owned by NGL Property Management. It has been operational since February 2010. Replacing inefficient lighting throughout most of the property with fluorescent and LED lighting has gotten the hotel down to its net zero level. In fact, last month the hotel actually produced more electricity than it needed. “Getting to net zero is a goal we set a couple of years ago,” Scipione says.
COLUMBUS, OHIO—Hilton Hotels & Resorts announces the opening of Hilton Columbus Downtown. The 532-room property is located at 401 North High Street, conveniently positioned in the center of the city’s most admired neighborhoods, including the Short North Arts District and the Arena District. “Today is a significant milestone in the longstanding relationship between Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the City of Columbus and our distinguished business partners involved in this monumental project,” said Major Michael B. Coleman. “Hilton Columbus Downtown will attract millions of new visitors and make Columbus a best-in-class destination for national conventions and events.” The $140 million convention center hotel features a large atrium in the lobby with skylights to give an indoor-outdoor feel.
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