Name: Deirdre Wallace
Company: The Ambrose Group
Property: The Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif.
My primary responsibilities: “I wear a lot of hats but my primary responsibility is to drive the company’s focus on sustainable development and operations.”
What keeps me motivated: “The challenge of an ever changing business and trying to find the most sustainable approach to running a business. That has been very exciting for me.”
My hotel’s most significant environmental accomplishment so far: “We are in the process of pursuing LEED-EB certification. We expect to submit the paperwork this year.”
Our biggest environmental challenge: “Consistently finding the right vendors and products.”
What advice I would give to a hotel operator considering going green: “Start with the lowest hanging fruit first—the small things. It is not that difficult getting started and there usually are solutions for most challenges.”
SANTA MONICA, CALIF.—In the relatively short time that The Ambrose Hotel has been up and running—four years—Deirdre Wallace has quickly become one of the most visible green hoteliers in the United States. The company which she founded, Santa Monica, Calif.-based The Ambrose Group, LLC, not only runs The Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica but is also developing three additional eco-lifestyle boutique properties.
On top of those ventures, Wallace is in the process of forming a management company that will focus on operating green hotels. Toss in occasional speaking engagements and board and committee positions and the result is one busy lady. Being busy is not such a bad thing, however, especially when your work pays offs with numerous accolades.
The 77-room Ambrose Hotel, the focus of Wallace’s attention, won the 2006 Sustainable Quality Award Grand Prize, was the first hotel to receive a four-leaf designation (the highest level) from Greenopia, and is also among the first to be included on the new EcoRooms & EcoSuites website.
Environmental Roots Run Deep
For Wallace, her interest in the environment springs from her experiences as a child, her travels in Asia, her love of the outdoors (surfing) and her time working for MOA Hospitality. She started at that company in 1998 and was responsible for directing property renovations and implementing enhanced operational procedures. In 2000 she was appointed director of new development for MOA. At that time she created the concept for The Ambrose and oversaw all phases of design, construction and operations.
“While with MOA, I became aware of the gap in the market for affordable luxury and healthy hotels,” Wallace says. “I began researching and learning more about sustainable practices. I realized I needed to run my hotel as sustainably as possible.”
The Ambrose Hotel is a reflection of Wallace’s commitment. The following is just a sample of the property’s green initiatives:
• It is a participant in Santa Monica’s Sustainable Works Business Greening Program.
• All appliances are Energy Star rated;
• Compact fluorescents are used throughout;
• Front-load washing machines save water and energy;
• Low-flow toilets, showerheads and aerators reduce water consumption;
• Native plants are used in landscaping;
• Guests are given the option to have their towels and linens cleaned;
• Nontoxic cleaning products are used by housekeepers;
• Green Seal-certified, water-based paints are used;
• Recycling bins are located in all public areas;
• Seventy percent of all waste is recycled;
• Guests are given the option to use Eco-limo, a limousine service that uses hybrid vehicles; and
• Employees, when hired, are asked to sign a form acknowledging the hotel’s environmental commitment and to adhere to the green policy.
Wallace is optimistic that the lodging industry will continue to shift—like her own property—toward more responsible hotel operations.
“Once owners and operators realize they can save money and bring money to the bottom line, they will begin to change their approach,” she says.
Go to The Ambrose.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.