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Schlesinger Selected to Manage InterContinental Times Square

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NEW YORK—Drew Schlesinger, a veteran of the hotel industry and a 12-year resident of Scarsdale, N.Y., was recently named general manger of the InterContinental Times Square. One of the greenest hotels in New York City, the hotel opened in July. The 36-story, 607-room hotel cost half a billion dollars to build and is being billed by its parent company, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, as one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the city.

It’s already the largest hotel in New York to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which is assigned by the U.S. Green Building Council to projects in which environmentally sound strategies are utilized.

“Among the design elements that led to its LEED certification are sustainable materials such as roofing with low solar heat gain, green roofs with drought-tolerant, low maintenance plants, an energy-generating elevator system, and large floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural day lighting,” Schlesinger said.

This is the Philadelphia native’s first position at a green hotel, but he has a wealth of experience in the industry. He opened InterContinental’s Central Park South location, and was most recently the general manager of the Water Club, an offshoot of the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City.

Green Approach Has Personal Impact

Schlesinger said the new position has made him more aware of the environmental impacts of the choices he makes.

“I will be more focused on running green, and having all of the managers and staff behind those efforts will help us stay green,” he said.

In addition to state-of-the-art construction, he said, only environmentally-friendly chemicals will be used for laundry and cleaning, and the company that will pick up the hotel’s trash will be required to do single-stream recycling, in which recyclables are hauled off together and separated later on. The process is lauded by environmentalists because it allows a more diverse array of material to be recycled.

But not everyone is convinced.

Stephen Del Percio, a New York-based real estate and construction lawyer who is LEED accredited because of his expertise in green construction, pointed out that hotels tend to be the biggest energy wasters of all buildings.

“Hotels generally guzzle energy at a crazy rate and run up similarly over-the-top utilities,” he said. “The industry’s deep attachment to turbo-charged pampering has translated to a slower-than-usual response to what looks like a pretty clear mandate to step up the efficiency game.”

Lots of Wasted Energy

Del Percio pointed out the standard practice of hotels leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms, and the tendency for hotel guests—even those who are generally eco-conscious—to leave lights and air-conditioning on while they’re out of their rooms.

But Schlesinger said the InterContinental has that covered, too. Every room in the hotel is hooked up to an energy management system that monitors heating, air-conditioning, and lights. A computer-controlled timer can shut lights off or regulate the air temperature of individual rooms.

Del Percio applauded the efforts, and admitted that “the InterContinental’s green aspects seem pretty impressive.”

As a result of the recession, Schlesinger said, the company will offer prices that are lower than were originally planned. Current prices run from just over $300 a night to about $800, depending on the room. The hotel has also revised its expected occupancy rate as tough times have led to a modest downturn in the city’s tourism industry, Schlesinger said.

No Problem Finding Staff

But it’s not all bad; he added that the economy makes it easier to fully staff a hotel, since so many people are looking for jobs, and the InterContinental’s green appeal could swing more business its way.

“If I’m side by side against a competitor and we have similar properties, the green certification can certainly help us,” he said, referring specifically to pulling in businesses for conventions or seminars.

When he’s not working, Schlesinger resides with his family, including his two teenage children. He said he moved to Scarsdale “for the schools, because they truly can’t be beat.”

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