Thursday, August 28, 2008

Green ELEMENT Brand Keeps on Growing

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced plans to open an Element Hotel in June of 2010 in Palmdale, Calif., one of the fastest growing communities in the United States. Inspired by Westin Hotels & Resorts, ELEMENT Palmdale will offer a new extended stay experience with modern style and eco-friendly design. Element is Starwood’s newest hotel concept and the first hotel brand in the country to mandate all hotels pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. The hotel will be owned and developed by Condor Hospitality.

Element Hotels are equipped with energy-efficient, stainless steel appliances and lighting, water-efficient faucets and fixtures. Guests can maintain daily routines such as recycling paper and plastic and using green materials, while those driving hybrid cars are rewarded with priority parking. Filtered water in guestrooms and amenity dispensers in the showers reduce plastic bottle waste. In addition, Element Hotels use low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints and carpets with up to 100 percent recycled content and anti-microbial carpet pads to improve indoor air quality for guests and staff.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Different Take on Towel Re-use Programs

People are more likely to reuse hotel towels if they know other guests are doing it too, U.S. researchers suggest. The study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that the types of signs posted in hotel bathrooms had different effects—signs that focused on the environmental benefits were less effective than signs that pointed out the level of participation of other guests. Study authors Noah J. Goldstein of the University of Chicago, Robert B. Cialdini and Vladas Griskevicius, both from Arizona State University, got a hotel chain to allow them to create a series of different towel re-use cards, which were placed in the hotel's bathrooms. Some cards read "Help Save the Environment" and others read "Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping to Save the Environment." Cards that focused on the level of participation of other guests increased the percentage of participation from 35.1 percent to 44.1 percent. In a second study, the researchers were able to boost towel re-use even further by placing a sign in the room that said 75 percent of guests in that specific room re-used their towels. The above information is from a recent article.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More on Guestroom Amenities...

Earlier this month, I completed an article on guestroom amenities with the following headline: 'Green' Definitions Can Confuse Conscientious Amenity Purchasers. (Click here for the article.) In the article I described how difficult it is to determine how environmentally friendly an amenity is. The reason is that terms such as "natural," "organic," "pure," and "biodegradable" are used rather loosely. I referred to not only the amenity ingredients but also the bottles themselves. While I described the reasons it is important to reduce bottle waste, I did not go into much detail in regard to why true natural, organic and biodegradable amenity ingredients are important.

One reader, Rick Reibstein from the Office of Technical Assistance for Toxics Use Reduction in Boston (, helped me out and wrote the following in response to my article: “I thought your questions were great, but it’s important for people to think about the impact on aquatic and microbiological life. All that stuff goes down the drain. If it doesn’t break down by the time it gets to the sewage treatment facility, or into the river, or into the back lawn by way of the septic leaching field, and it has aquatic or microbiological toxicity, it’s going to kill the little bugs who break down the sewage or septage, or which keep the soil healthy, and/or living organisms in the water.”

A very good point. Too often we take for granted what goes down the drain.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Welcome to the Green Lodging News blog!

I am excited to introduce the Green Lodging News blog. It is something I have wanted to do since I launched Green Lodging News in July 2006. What can you expect to find here? As the name of the blog indicates, its primary emphasis will be news. At least several times a week and sometimes more than once a day, I will post news about the latest green hotel developments and products, trends and provide inside industry information gathered during phone conversations, conferences and trade shows. At times I will provide commentary and even a little humor. Included with each posting will be helpful links to click on for additional information. This blog will not be successful if it is just a conversation with myself. While I will always be the conversation starter, it is up to you to respond with your comments and suggestions to make the blog the growing online community that it can be. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Tennessee Hilton Garden Inn to Pursue LEED

A Hilton Garden Inn will open next summer on River Road in downtown Gatlinburg, Tenn., as part of a revitalization of that part of the city and a project expected to boost the nearby convention center. Hospitality Management Solutions Inc., a locally-owned company, will manage the $15 million hotel, which will be built where River Oaks Center is now located. The company bought that property and the adjacent parking lot where King's Court used to be located. River Oaks will be torn down in the coming weeks. Logan Coykendall, president of Hospitality Solutions and a Gatlinburg native, said the Hilton hotel will include 118 guest rooms. It also will be a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design facility. For additional details, click here.

Marriott to Publish Chain's Green Policies

Marriott recently told Economically Sound it will be publishing the hotel chain’s environmental policies on its website in fall 2008, with each hotel listing their specific green actions. This fall, the hotel will add a page to their corporate website outlining their environmental policies. Individual hotels will be encouraged to discuss their specific environmental policies on their Marriott Internet pages, not just their individual home pages as is presently done. Click here for more.

James Bond & Green Hotels

Could Green Lodging News have been the inspiration? I don't think so, but it is exciting to see that a green hotel will appear in an upcoming film. In the latest James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, due out November 7, Bond duels it out with a character named Dominic Greene. The setting is the fictional Greene Planet Hotel in Bolivia. In real life the building is a retreat for astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile's Atacama Desert. Thanks go out to Sierra magazine for alerting me to this green hotel news.