March 01, 2012 05:04
I had an opportunity to chat this week with Christian Hempell, v.p. of new brand development for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), in regard to the company's new EVEN Hotels brand. (See related article.) I requested an interview with Christian because the brand seemed like it was very much like a green hotel brand. Hempell and another IHG spokesperson assured me that EVEN Hotels will not be a green brand. What caught my eye was EVEN Hotels' emphasis on wellness through fitness, eating right, and the use of natural light, hypoallergenic linens and LED dimmers in guestrooms for the purpose of creating a more restful sleep environment. In a press release about EVEN Hotels there was a lot of conversation about research conducted to create a brand that provides a solution for healthier-minded travelers.
Hempell says the name "EVEN Hotels" conveys the idea of balance and "keeping you on track when you are on the road." Hundreds of names were considered for the brand.
I got the impression from chatting with Christian that there are many details regarding operating standards that still need to be ironed out. Still, given the emphasis on health and wellness, I thought for sure IHG would at least commit to making the brand a 100 percent smoking brand coming out of the gate. Christian would not comment on that or any other step that might be taken to make the hotel a healthy environment (e.g., what exactly was meant by hypoallergenic linens, whether low-VOC paints and other items would be used, etc.). The press release mentioned that filtered water would be made available to guests in glass bottles they can take back to their rooms. That is great but there was no mention of whether or not plastic water bottles would still be made available to guests. Hempell did say that, "As we design our operating standards, we want to be as sustainable as we possibly can. We are very excited about having a new-build prototype that incorporates all the latest innovations."
Whether a green hotel brand or not, I am certainly looking forward to learning more about EVEN Hotels. The first hotel is expected to open in the first part of next year.