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August 31, 2016 marks the deadline for the first annual Green Lodging Survey. Have you completed it? You certainly still have time. Just click here to access it. The survey is a production of Green Lodging News and Greenview and is being conducted with the support of Travelife, Green Key Global, Mekong Tourism Office, Horwath HTL Asia Pacific and Clean the World. The Green Lodging Survey is sponsored by The Arbor Day Foundation at the Silver level and Pineapple Hospitality, Aquawing Ozone Laundry Systems, PragmaTech Ltd. and reCollect2 Co. at the Bronze level. Once the survey closes, the analysis of the data and best practices will begin. The survey includes more than 100 questions and covers topics ranging from recycling bin placement to hand dryers to the amount of space allocated on a property’s website for green practices. Once all of the survey answers are analyzed, a Trends Report will be produced that will detail the results.
“Is there science to back it all up?” That was a question posed by one of the company spokespersons interviewed for the article I recently posted on guestrooms sold at a premium for being healthier, “green” or allergy-friendly in one way or another. Many of you are probably at least somewhat familiar with Stay Well rooms, PURE Rooms, and maybe even EcoRooms. I explore these as well as a new room package called the Elite Room in my article. I trust that there was indeed a good amount of scientific research done in preparation for the rollout of these premium room programs. What I wonder is how often the rooms are tested after the programs have been put in place. Stay Well rooms, PURE Rooms and Elite Rooms all incorporate air purification systems. Of course that is good news for travelers with allergies or chemical sensitivities. Similarly, these three room programs also include mattress and pillow encasements.
During attempts to arrange interviews for articles, I am occasionally asked—usually by suppliers—if they will have an opportunity to review the article before it is published online. I always tell them no and if I should happen to make an error I will gladly correct it. That is the great thing about the Internet—you can make changes after the fact. After hearing my “no,” in most cases the person will agree to move forward with the interview. Such was not the case the past couple of weeks when I attempted to get Ecolab to participate in an article on cold water washing for the laundry. After numerous calls trying to chat with the right person, I was finally e-mailed. Ecolab at first wondered who else would be featured in the article—it was P&G Professional, a competitor, but I did not tell them that. I guess Ecolab wanted all of the glory—if there is such a thing in a Green Lodging News article. Their final e-mail to me said (I never got a reply after): “One last question, will we be able to proof what you write before it is published?”
It was about two years ago at a conference that I first met Jessica Blotter, CEO & Co-Founder of the just launched booking website Kind Traveler. At the time I was impressed by her idea and still am—a booking website that allows one to donate funds to a charity local to the hotel in which one will be staying. I know it took a lot of hard work and patience to get www.kindtraveler.com up and running. I encourage you to check out the website and to work with Kind Traveler to get your property listed. I did a test run at the site, as if I were going to be staying in New York City for a couple of nights. Evidence that the site still needs to bulk up on properties, I was offered just one hotel—The Benjamin (1 Hotel Central Park to be added soon). I chose The Benjamin and was shown a page listing the hotel’s various wellness factors, green features and community impact activities.
Back in 2009, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia (now The Logan) installed three C65 microturbines from Capstone Turbine Corp. The goal of the combined heat and power system (CHP), according to Marvin Dixon, now V.P. of Engineering at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, who was at the hotel at the time, was to take care of all of the hotel’s water heating. The microturbines—the same ones that have been in place since 2009—have also been meeting 20 percent of the hotel’s electricity needs. Dixon says it is doing that cheaper than if the hotel were generating electricity off the grid. Also, the microturbines are covering 75 percent of the hotel’s building heating needs. In just the first two months of using the technology that was implemented seven years ago, the hotel saved $80,000. “We reduced our energy costs by 30 percent,” Dixon says.
“It provides a high sense of pride.” That is how Cindy Ortega, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer of MGM Resorts International described the massive solar array atop the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. I spoke with Cindy this past week in regard to the 8.3 MW dc array that includes more than 26,000 photovoltaic panels. The array, certainly one of the largest rooftop arrays in the United States, was recently completed after three years in the making. The array represents one of the most significant, if not the most significant, investments in renewable energy connected to any hospitality-related company. I say “connected to” because MGM does not own or operate the installation. NRG Energy, Inc. owns and operates the array. Through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Mandalay Bay Resort will purchase all the electricity generated by the panels.
Losing your job can be the best thing that ever happens to you—if you strategically move on from that separation, do not feel sorry for yourself, and use your imagination to create something positive and fulfilling. It was almost 15 years ago that I did lose my job with a well-known industry trade publication. It took me several years to figure out what I wanted to do and in July 2006 Green Lodging News was born. So yes, this month I celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Green Lodging News website and e-newsletter. What a ride it has been over the last decade—covering the lodging industry from its initial push toward sustainability to its current firm commitment. This week I posted an article about MGM Resorts completing an 8.3 MW dc solar photovoltaic system atop the Mandalay Convention Center—an astounding 26,000 panels. I could not imagine reporting on a project this size a decade ago. The project is just one example of the many green achievements of our industry.
A little more than a year ago I wrote about the McKibbon Hotel Group and its efforts to match orphaned pets with guests staying at its Aloft Asheville Downtown in Asheville, N.C. The hotel paired up with a local animal shelter, Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue, in an effort to increase the dog adoption numbers in the community. As guests arrive at the Aloft Asheville Downtown, a dog welcomes them from behind the registration desk dressed in an “Adopt Me” vest. I thought it was a great idea and at the time of my article “ruffly” 20 dogs had found permanent homes. I just learned that the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. has been working for just over a year in partnership with Animal Samaritans, a local no-kill animal shelter, to introduce adoptable dogs to resort guests. Since May of 2015, 43 dogs have found forever homes through the resort’s “Dog Samaritans Adoption Project.” “We had an idea that this program would resonate with our guests,” says Randy Zupanski, General Manager at the resort.
U.S. News & World Report recently listed what they believe to be the World’s Best Places to Visit. Topping the list: the Great Barrier Reef. Hugging the east coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef extends from Cape York in the north to Bundaberg in the south—a total of 1,250 miles. The Great Barrier Reef encompasses 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands and 1,625 species of fish and attracts 1.6 million annual visitors annually. An attraction in many ways, the Great Barrier Reef is a perfect example of an area highly vulnerable to climate change—coral bleaching caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. The Great Barrier Reef is already experiencing coral bleaching and a recent report illustrates how vulnerable one continent can be to this phenomenon. Based on surveys of Chinese, U.K., U.S. and domestic tourists by The Australia Institute, results show that tourism areas adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef risk losing more than 1 million visitors per year.
A body dryer instead of towels? When Julien Veyron, Architect and CEO of atelier arcau, responded to my request for additional information on the Light Human Hotel concept (see article and column from last week), he mentioned the use of body dryers in the hotels as one step in helping to reduce environmental impact. Yes, all Light Human Hotel bathrooms will include body dryers. (Google “body dryer” and you will find just a few examples of companies that make them.) The use of body dryers is one example of the brand developers’ willingness to innovate and create a guest experience unlike any other. Would your guests give up their towels in exchange for air drying? In case you missed it, the Light Human Hotel, a new eco-friendly brand and concept created by two France-based entrepreneurs—Jean-Pierre Bandeira, CEO of Light Human Hotel and Veyron—will make its first appearance in the United States later this year in Miami.