I spoke with Kristen Pryor this past week. Kristen is the general manager of the LEED Silver Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley in Colorado. She has been General Manager of the 240-room property for almost five years and has overseen many of the property’s green initiatives. Several of the hotel’s programs caught my attention—some because of their uniqueness and others because they address issues that many of you are currently facing.
First, the resort is in the process of phasing out all single-use plastic bottles. This will be done by May 1. No longer will plastic water or soda bottles be available in guestrooms or in the Lift Café. In guestrooms two branded glass water bottles will be placed. To prepare for this change, water filtration stations have been placed on each floor and in public areas. On resort floors water lines were already in place for ice machines.
“If [the glass bottles] are taken, we will charge cost,” Pryor says. “Whatever is used [and left] will be taken and washed.” Most bottles will be washed by a dishwashing machine located in the laundry facility. Sixty-five of the residential suites already have their own dishwashing machines. Bottles in those rooms will be washed there.
Plastic water and soda bottles in the Lift Café have been replaced by soda cans and water and Muscle Milk in cartons.
Last year Marriott announced the phaseout of single-use amenity bottles. Pryor says her property has not yet made that transition. She is waiting for the announcement of the new Westin brand standard for amenities. “That standard will be rolled out on July 1,” Pryor says.
Like many hotels and resorts, The Westin Riverfront eliminated the use of plastic straws in 2019.
Planting a Forest
Spa Anjali at The Westin Riverfront is dedicated to eco-friendly operations, using only 100 percent organic treatment products and linens. Eminence Skincare has planted more than 7,160 trees on behalf of products sold at Spa Anjali, which is equivalent to 119 acres of trees.
Many of you are familiar with the Make a Green Choice Program that rewards guests for opting out of housekeeping during stays of two nights or more. The Westin Riverfront, which has about a 30 percent participation rate in Make a Green Choice, is expanding that program and giving guests the option of having a tree planted for each day on their behalf by The Arbor Day Foundation.
While the Make a Green Choice Program is helping to reduce energy, water and chemical consumption on property, state-of-the-art HVAC systems, LED lighting, and water fixtures are further reducing the resort’s environmental footprint. Evidence of their efforts being part of what Pryor calls an “eco journey,” she recently put a stop to the use of running water for thawing frozen food.
Westin Riverfront Eco Journey
Not many properties have given a name to their green programs but that is something the Westin Riverfront has done. Their program’s name is Westin Riverfront Eco Journey. “We feel that when you give something a name, it helps get your guests and staff on board,” Pryor says. “We want everyone to remember this is an ongoing journey for us. We have not branded it yet but will be.”
A few of The Westin Riverfront’s other green initiatives:
Named a “Top 10 Green Spa” by Organic Spa Magazine and a “Top Wellness Center” in the Green Spa Network Sustainability Awards, Spa Anjali offers a unique “Green Check-In” program, where guests receive a discount on their services if they come to the spa in the robe from their guest residence, reducing the need to launder a second robe.
- The Westin Riverfront’s outdoor pool and three infinity hot tubs use a saline-based filtration system, which reduces chemical consumption by 90 percent.
- Recycling bins are prominently placed throughout the resort.
- Housekeeping uses only eco-friendly cleaning products and all in-room paper products are made from recyclable materials.
- The Westin Riverfront’s food & beverage outlets compost all fruit, vegetable and food scraps, coffee grounds and other waste. The organic materials are then used in the resort’s on-site Mountains of Wellness Garden, which grows herbs, lettuces and vegetables seasonally that are used in Maya, the resort’s modern Mexican restaurant.
- Free public transportation access to Beaver Creek Mountain is available via the Riverfront Express Gondola.
- The resort has two Tesla electric vehicle charging stations and one adaptor.
- The Westin Riverfront has adopted two miles of Highway 6 for continuous upkeep since 2008 and participates in the annual Eagle River Clean-up Project.
- Food & beverage outlets use organic and locally sourced menu items.
- The resort will celebrate Earth Hour on March 28 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Guests will be asked to turn off their lights and devices and enjoy an acoustic, candlelit set of live music in the lobby or a special candlelit yoga class in the Athletic Club, along with environmentally-focused craft hour for kids and green drink specials.
- The Westin Riverfront supports Clean the World, a nonprofit program that recycles and distributes discarded soap and shampoo products to impoverished people worldwide. In 2019, The Westin Riverfront donated 1,532 bars of soap and 992 lbs. of plastic bottles for hygiene kits. Over the past decade, the resort has donated more than 21,600 bars of soap and 6,500 lbs. of plastic bottles.
Building on its LEED certification, the resort is currently pursuing certification for its operations by the Walking Mountains Science Center. “They will help us identify what we can do better in everything from energy consumption to waste disposal,” Pryor says.
Kudos to Kristen Pryor and her team at The Westin Riverfront for continuing to improve upon their already stellar green record.
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