The Super 8 Ukiah in Ukiah, Calif., is strong proof that you don’t need a wind turbine, solar panels or some other expensive investment in sustainability to create a lot—and I mean a lot—of green buzz about your property. (How many of you have properties with Facebook pages that come anywhere near 41,273 “Likes?”)
Over the past several years I have frequently seen mentions about the two-story, 54-room hotel. This past week I had a chance to chat with its owner, Raakesh Patel, to gain an understanding of what sets his hotel apart from others. What it really comes down to is a lot of hard work and a strong desire to not only stay in business but run a profitable one as well.
In the depths of the recent recession, Patel and his family were struggling to keep their Super 8 open. As part of an effort to reduce costs and strengthen his hotel’s bottom line, Patel began tackling what is often called low hanging fruit—starting a towel and linen reuse program, switching from incandescents to compact fluorescents, replacing water hogging toilets and other fixtures, and recycling. Patel also invested in double-pane windows, new PTACs, lighting sensors for utility areas, and a drip irrigation system. Taking advantage of utility rebates where possible, he was able to see fast results and a fast payback on his investments.
Getting Housekeepers, Guests to Buy In
Key to the Super 8 Ukiah’s success is housekeeper and guest participation. Housekeepers are integral parts of the property’s recycling program and carry separate bags on their carts for recyclables. Housekeepers are also charged with turning off lights, TVs, PTACs, and unplugging the microwave after a guest has checked out and the room has been cleaned. In addition to being asked to participate in the towel/linen program, guests are asked to turn off lights, the TV and PTAC before leaving the room. A sign with an environment-related message reminds guests just prior to exiting the room.
One of the most recent steps Patel has taken is adding an electric-vehicle charging station. The Super Ukiah is one of the first hotels within Wyndham Worldwide to install one. Given the hotel’s California location, it is actually getting a lot of use, Patel says. The station has also brought the hotel a lot of publicity. It is always good to be among the first to do something—whether in a community or within a brand. Patel was so inspired by seeing so many electric vehicles drive up that he went out and leased a Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle, for his own use.
Patel is a go-getter when it comes to participating in green certification programs. The Super 8 Ukiah is Energy Star rated and certified through the Green Business Bureau. He will pursue Green Key certification next year.
For all of Patel and his family’s efforts, the hotel has earned numerous accolades. Earlier this year the hotel was honored by Wyndham Worldwide at its annual convention with the Wyndham Green award. A video segment on the hotel ran during the convention. The Super 8 Ukiah also earned a Spirit of Super 8 award this year.
Raakesh Patel and his family are proof that hard work, practical steps, housekeeper and guest education, wise investing, and knowledge of social media can make a world of difference when it comes to running a successful hotel.
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