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Greening Your Boutique Hotel

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NATIONAL REPORT—Standing out as a small business is all about setting yourself apart, highlighting the things that make you better than competitors. A great way to do that today is to be ecologically responsible.

One of the best things about taking an eco-friendly approach to operating your hotel is that it can become a marketing tool for you. Travelers today, like consumers of all kinds, have expectations beyond simply the products and services they consume. They have particular issues that they care about, and they want to support companies that feel the same way.

The environment is a major one. While the traveler of 30 years ago simply wanted a clean room in the right location at a good price, today’s lodger wants more. They want to know that their chosen hotel is doing everything it can to operate in the greenest possible way.

That’s where your management comes in. You need to examine all parts of your hotel’s operation and look for ways to go a little greener.

You’re already at an advantage over the chain hotels. A boutique inn, with its smaller size and on-site ownership, doesn’t have some of the problems that national brands face. Standards are set and monitored locally. There’s no need for reams of regulations and procedures. And because of the smaller workload associated with operating a smaller place, you can focus on doing things right instead of just doing them fast.

Pest Prevention

So let’s look at some of them. Pests are an obvious choice. No one wants to see insects in their hotel room, but green customers also don’t want dangerous chemicals everywhere. One of the easiest and eco-friendly ways to keep pests at bay is through prevention. Moxie Pest Control recommends adding a few more items to your spring cleaning list, such as ensuring there is no standing water on the property and sealing any cracks or openings in the building. While there are things you can do to prevent pests yourself, it doesn’t really help if you already have a pest invasion. In that case, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. They’ll be able to give you a more comprehensive solution that will still meet your environmental aspirations.

Now let’s look at the most fundamental thing that people use in a hotel: The bed. Obviously, there are health regulations centered on cleanliness, and no one can benefit by going short on these. But you can be greener within the context of the law quite easily.

Chains often wash sheets every single day of a party’s stay. You can of course offer that service, but if your guest opts out, you can save a great deal of water and energy by simply making the bed instead of changing it.

You’re at an advantage in a boutique hotel because your stays are typically longer. A traveler’s hotel along an interstate is used as a comfortable single-night destination, a place to rest for the next few hundred miles of driving. A boutique hotel is a destination itself, so most of your guests are there for several nights, meaning no health reasons for changing sheets.

Cut Back on Wasted Water, Energy

Another key function of a hotel room is bathing. If guests do nothing else in a hotel, they’ll shower and sleep. But they can waste a lot of water and energy, too, especially if guests have to wait on water to heat up. Consider installing equipment that will cut back on this wasted energy and water.

Of course, another feature of boutique hotels can increase the challenge of staying green. A beautiful old building makes a great hotel, but it can definitely fight your efforts to meet environmental goals. Heating and cooling are the main battlegrounds, so think about what you can do to win that war.

Review insulation. While some buildings are solid brick with no voids for adding insulation, others do have areas where they can be retrofitted (invisibly) to retain heat and cooling. And don’t forget the units themselves. Old furnaces may be quaint, but a modern heat pump or geothermal system will save money.

Speaking of old methods, look at your fireplaces if you have them. They seem harmless in the summer, but a draft flue can allow your air-conditioning to escape. Have the flue safely blocked off during warm weather, then opened and inspected in the fall as temperatures drop.

As you’ve probably seen in lots of other ways, operating a boutique hotel has advantages and disadvantages relative to running a chain hotel. Fortunately, being green is an achievable goal, one that will save you money, bring in customers, and help the environment.

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