CAPE ELIZABETH, MAINE—The Inn By The Sea, here in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is not a bad place to stay, especially if you happen to be a bird or a bug—the good kind, that is. The luxury property, which includes 43 suites and cottages, is two-thirds surrounded by a state park and is adjacent to a bird sanctuary.
Management at the Inn By The Sea takes its responsibility to maintain its surroundings seriously. Over the years, the need for chemicals has been reduced by replacing exotic plants with indigenous species that not only create a pleasing landscape for guests, but also attract and provide shelter and food for local wildlife.
“We have installed 22 nesting boxes for birds around the inn,” says Tom Petot, general manager. “We also have feeders throughout the property.”
As part of its business plan, the Inn By The Sea strives to educate its employees and guests about the importance of environmental protection. The inn’s grounds have been designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Derrick Daly, head gardener, gives lectures and garden tours on native planting, teaches children about the importance of bugs in eco systems with a whimsical “Bug’s Life” class, and hosts a variety of low environmental impact events for guests and the community.
For its efforts to protect the property’s exterior surroundings and for its other green programs, the Inn by the Sea received Green Lodging Certification from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) earlier this year. The inn also received the Environmental Leader Award from the DEP.
Energy Savings Add Up
In addition to its plant and wildlife programs, the Inn By The Sea has made significant progress in reducing its energy and water consumption. By replacing its high-energy incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, it has saved $8,000 annually in electricity costs. It also saved on maintenance costs by not having to replace the bulbs as often. Outside the inn, timers keep lights on only when needed.
Each suite includes recycling containers. In the bathroom, Natura amenities are used and guests are given a bag to take used soap home. Water-saving toilets are in place and green cleaning products are used by housekeeping and maintenance staff. To reduce the volume of waste going to the local landfill, paper, plastics, glass and other items are recycled. Disposable plates and cutlery are not used. Guests visiting the AAA Four Diamond property are encouraged to choose fresh sheets every other day.
“We balance a luxurious guest experience with consideration for the environment daily,” Petot says. “Being a steward for the environment is good business.”
To educate visitors about the property’s initiatives, an area has been set aside where adults can read about environmental programs and children can color in coloring books. Each suite’s guest binder also includes information about the inn’s green efforts. New employees are also educated.
“It has become a much more significant part of our orientation process,” Petot says.
Community Involvement Emphasized
Petot and his team of employees believe every visit by a guest is an opportunity to inspire them to protect their own local environments. Involvement in the local community—Earth Day celebration, classes, beach cleanups, pumpkin carving, etc.—ensures that the inn’s green message reaches beyond the property.
“The environmental practices undertaken by the Inn By The Sea are a great example to the entire business community,” said Peter Cooke of Maine’s DEP in a release announcing the inn’s Green Lodging Certification.
Go to Inn By The Sea.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.