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CHICAGO—Virgin Hotels announced that Virgin Hotels Chicago, the brand’s first property, has achieved LEED Gold certification, a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. The hotel and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) celebrated the achievement with a hosted panel discussion surrounding reducing carbon, reaching net zero and greening supply chains in the hospitality industry. “Our goal as a company is to have all our properties achieve LEED Silver, so we are ecstatic to have exceeded that benchmark in Chicago,” said Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. “As we continue to open additional properties, we have aspirational goals of moving towards a net zero carbon footprint across the board.”
DUBAI, U.A.E.—Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Worldwide’s brand of midscale hotels, and Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East and North Africa, announced the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Mall of the Emirates—the second largest Hilton Garden Inn in the world and the largest outside of America and the first LEED Gold hotel by Majid Al Futtaim in Dubai. The new hotel, owned by Majid Al Futtaim and managed by Hilton Worldwide, is located just steps away from the Middle East’s iconic premier shopping, leisure and entertainment award-winning destination “The Mall of the Emirates.” Boasting 370 guestrooms—132 of which are interconnecting—Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Mall of the Emirates provides access to Dubai’s major attractions and destinations including the beaches on the Arabian Gulf.
KEY WEST, FLA.—Waste Management and Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, teamed up to make the Seventh Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit a successful, first-ever Zero Waste Event in Florida. At the Summit held in Key West which concluded December 3, Waste Management and hotel personnel worked together to recycle 90.3 percent (1,713 pounds) of all waste generated by the more than 400 attendees at the summit. The remaining 9.7 percent of waste was processed at a waste-to-energy facility and produced renewable energy in the form of electricity. Traditional recyclables (431 pounds)—including cardboard, paper, and plastic items and aluminum and steel cans—were processed at Waste Management’s Reuter Recycling Facility in Pembroke Pines. Organic material, or food scraps (1,282 pounds), were recycled at the company’s Okeechobee Organics Recycling Facility.
AUSTIN, TEXAS—The expansion of the Hyatt Regency Austin’s already progressive green initiatives and forward-leaning sustainability practices have led to increased amounts of waste diversion, new conservation measures throughout the hotel and designation of GreenLeader status by the popular travel site, TripAdvisor. For years, Hyatt Regency Austin has been a green leader in the Austin hospitality industry, from its daily hotel operations, to its restaurant, Southwest Bistro, Marker 10 bar and coffee shop. The hotel was the very first in Austin to have its own compost pulper, and has regularly donated barely used shampoos and soaps to charity since 2011, a practice that is now standard in the industry. In 2013, the hotel proactively went even further with its green efforts across the board, with single stream recycling and an eco-friendly laundry cleaning process that conserves both water and energy.
NAPLES, FLORIDA—The air outside may be a balmy 95 degrees but the temperature inside The Grow House (a.k.a. CropBox) at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples is an ideal 65 to 72 degrees—perfect for growing lettuce and other micro-greens. Since July, Executive Chef George Fistrovich has been growing the equivalent of an acre of vegetables in a repurposed shipping container that sits in the parking lot of the hotel. Measuring 40 feet by 8 feet in size, the container is equipped with everything one needs to grow crops—lights, planting racks, HVAC system, all of the necessary hydroponic components, and a system of sensors to monitor just about every environmental condition. On the day Green Lodging News interviewed Fistrovich, he expected to be harvesting 1,400 heads of lettuce in the following five or six days. He and his colleagues were on their third lettuce growing cycle.
SAN DIEGO—Paradise Point, A Destination Hotel on San Diego’s Mission Bay, has partnered with San Diego International Airport on a new sustainable travel program. The Good Traveler program, piloted by San Diego International Airport, seeks to offset environmental impacts of travel by encouraging guests to purchase carbon offsets in the form of merchandise or add-ons to hotel reservations. For just $1, a traveler can effectively offset 500 miles of air travel or 200 miles of driving. All of program funds will go directly towards conservation projects counteracting the environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. Paradise Point is the first hotel to participate in The Good Traveler program, encouraging and inspiring sustainable travel by resort guests. Seeking to make conservation approachable and inclusive for all travelers, The Good Traveler provides participants with a collectible sticker that can be proudly displayed.
EAGLE BEACH, ARUBA—Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort continues to expand its green initiatives with its new LEED Silver certification. Known as the Caribbean property with the most sustainability certifications, Bucuti’s new LEED designation is from the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the world’s foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January through July 2015 was the warmest seven months in recordkeeping history and 2015 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. Even a fraction of a degree average temperature change creates warmer oceans and rising sea levels that can be devastating for sea-level Caribbean islands like Aruba.
PACIFIC GROVE, CALIF.—Domaine Hospitality Partners, LLC, and representatives from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Foursome Development Co., and the City of Pacific Grove, Calif., announced the launch of Project Bella at a press conference in Pacific Grove. Developed by Domaine Hospitality Partners, Project Bella will be located across the street from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station at the site of the American Tin Cannery, at the end of historic Cannery Row. Now in planning with world-renowned architect Mark Hornberger of Hornberger+Worstell, Project Bella aims to be one of the leading luxury hotels in the United States.
COLLEGE PARK, MD.—College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center announces that it has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council—LEED’s highest level of certification. The designation makes College Park Marriott one of just four LEED Platinum U.S. hotels. The hotel’s Platinum certification follows the completion of an extensive multi-year renovation of meeting and event space, guestrooms and public areas that emphasized green building techniques and enhanced eco-friendly practices in daily operations. This new designation highlights College Park Marriott’s longstanding commitment to preserving the environment. In 2004, the hotel was North America’s first LEED-certified hotel.
NEW YORK—SH Group, the hotel brand management arm of Starwood Capital Group, announced the opening of 1 Hotel Central Park. This is the second property for the recently launched 1 Hotels, and the first in New York City. Known for his innovations, Sternlicht developed the brand with goals of truly upending the world of hospitality through a socially and environmentally conscious platform in celebration of the beauty and preservation of nature. A natural haven in the middle of Manhattan, 1 Hotel Central Park stands one block south from New York City’s largest green space, at the corner of 58th Street and Sixth Avenue. A true homage to Central Park with its ivy-covered facade, the hotel offers respite from busy New York life for visitors and the community. “1 Hotels started from a simple belief: those who travel the world, care about it,” said SH Group CEO and Chairman Barry Sternlicht.
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