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ATLANTA—Taking green meetings to the next level, The Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, the largest Green Seal Silver Level certified convention hotel in the Southeast, is launching the Green Tour. This new on-site specialty event for meeting attendees provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sustainability, conservation and environmental efficiency efforts in the John Portman-designed AAA Four Diamond hotel. From event serveware made of leaves to the Go Green Racing teambuilding activity and single-stream recycling system, The Westin Peachtree Plaza is redefining what it means to be green. “Environmental stewardship is increasingly important to meeting planners and attendees when selecting a venue for their event,” said Ron Tarson, General Manager of The Westin Peachtree Plaza. “While many hotels say they offer green features, they frequently fall short. Our new Green Tour provides guests with a firsthand look at true sustainability and gives them a rare opportunity to view these efforts in action.”
NEW YORK—Starwood Capital Group Chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht announced the launch of the new mission-driven luxury lifestyle brand 1 Hotels. The first property debuted in South Beach on March 25, followed by Central Park in late spring and Brooklyn Bridge Park at the end of 2015. 1 Hotels aims to change industry standards—more than a hospitality brand, from no paper or plastic in the guestrooms to nature as art and lobby farmstands. 1 Hotels celebrates nature while encouraging sophisticated travelers to live well, do better, and connect with the world around them. Each hotel in the portfolio is consciously designed in collaboration with eco-friendly architects and craftsmen, and each property features high-design with low-impact, reclaimed and natural materials wherever possible. The architecture, landscaping and decor all showcase the art in nature.
MIAMI—InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced the opening of the Holiday Inn Express Marília hotel in São Paulo State, Brazil. The new-build, 102-room hotel is among the first internationally-branded properties in the city of Marilia. The hotel is centrally situated near Marilia’s industrial district, airport, and less than a mile away from the city’s main shopping center. “IHG properties have thrived in Brazil since the InterContinental brand arrived in 1946,” said Alvaro Diago, COO, Latin America and Caribbean, IHG. “We helped forge Brazil’s hospitality industry, and thanks to strong relationships with our Brazilian partners, we are pleased to be an integral part of this next stage of travel evolution for the country.” Spanning seven stories, the Holiday Inn Express Marilia hotel boasts a modern design, with a strong focus on sustainability.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—The new Marriott Port-au-Prince Hotel has checked in its first guests. Among the 200 new Haitian hotel workers who welcomed them were young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and Haitian-Americans who want to share their hospitality skills to help boost Haiti’s tourism economy. The stories of these new associates include Luccardo, who was recruited to work at the hotel’s front desk from the Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs orphanage, and Hermine, who was part of the hotel’s intern program and will be an entry-level supervisor. In addition to members of a Haitian-American executive team, the Haiti Marriott is led by a veteran Marriott general manager who was previously at the Marriott Champs Elysees in Paris. Dignitaries at the opening included Haiti President Michel Martelly and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
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.
CONCORD, CALIF.—Hilton Concord has been honored with two prestigious and coveted designations for its ongoing dedication and commitment to sustainability. Contra Costa County awarded the Hilton Concord hotel with a Certified Green Business designation, the first hotel to receive this honor. In addition, the hotel received the 2014 Contra Costa Green Building Award by Sustainable Contra Costa. The Hilton Concord hotel is owned by VWI Concord LLC and operated by Interstate Hotels & Resorts. “We are proud to have achieved and exceeded the benchmarks in sustainability required for Green Business Certification and thrilled to be the recipient of the 2014 Contra Costa Green Building Award,” said Jack Hlavac, General Manager of the Hilton Concord. “It’s extremely rewarding to earn the recognition.”
TORRANCE, CALIF.—Courtyard Los Angeles Torrance/Palos Verdes is taking its green efforts to the next level with the completion of a landscaping renovation project that will not only save the hotel money but will help take the edge off of California’s severe drought. The unique project brings a low-maintenance, low-water outdoor environment to the hotel in Torrance, Calif. and demonstrates the Courtyard’s commitment to the surrounding community. Flower beds, hedges and turf have been replaced by drought-resistant plants. After a self-audit, the hotel also replaced areas of its irrigation system while adjusting timing and putting in new sprinkler heads. “Our hotel is an excellent representation of Marriott’s Spirit to Preserve program,” said David Zimmerman, General Manager.
HONOLULU—Hawaii Energy’s largest incentive for a hotel to date was recently awarded to Hawaii’s largest hotel—the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program for Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui counties, presented a $471,192 incentive check to the Hilton after the completion of phase I of a multi-phase, multi-million dollar energy efficiency upgrade project. Phase I included a major lighting retrofit in 1,839 guestrooms and the installation of energy-saving fan coil motors in all 2,860 guestrooms. The incentive will help Hilton offset its phase I project costs of more than $1.91 million. Hawaii Energy’s incentive covered 24 percent of these costs.
PHILIPSBURG, ST MAARTEN—The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten made its mark as a game-changer in the hospitality industry by completing a landmark solar installation earlier this year that allows the resort to produce six to eight hours of its own power during peak times. The resort has harnessed the power of the Caribbean sun for more than a year and reached an environmental milestone by generating one gigawatt hour of solar power, or one billion watt-hours. The resort also just installed a completely oil-free Smardt Chiller to further conserve energy; the Chiller is used in the air-conditioning and refrigeration systems throughout the resort. One gigawatt hour of power is enough to provide annual power to 92 American households.
DENVER—The piece-of-pie shaped Brown Palace Hotel, a fixture in the heart of Denver since 1892, has been undergoing a green transformation the last couple of years that has caught the eye of many. The 241-room property won the Good Earthkeeping Award in 2013 from the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Assn. and the Good Earthkeeping Award in 2014 from the American Hotel and Lodging Assn. While dabbling in sustainability for a number of years—bee hives have been on the hotel roof as part of the hotel’s Bee Royalty Initiative since 2009—it was in October 2012 when good things really started to happen. That is when Brenna St. Onge was hired as Executive Housekeeper. She brought a passion for sustainability to her job and it was a year ago that she was promoted to Assistant Director of Rooms and Chair of Sustainability.
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