Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Kiradjian said BLLA's goal is to have its definition of boutique and lifestyle lodgings complete by the beginning of 2011. BLLA is surveying hoteliers, consumers and others in order to develop its criteria. The BLLA Advisory Board will make the final decision on the definition.
In the press release distributed about the new standard, BLLA did not mention that it is also developing a certification program for boutique and lifestyle properties. Within the certification program, Kiradjian said, there will be questions that address a property's green programs. Watch for more details at www.greenlodgingnews.com.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Arkansas site lists green properties but there is no certification program yet in that state. Hotels and inns, to be listed, must follow some of the guidelines described by the American Hotel & Lodging Association in its Green Resource Center. Participants in the Bed & Breakfast Association of Kentucky's program are required to have an on-site audit and must report on their progress annually. "A third-party audit gives a level of credibility that self-certification cannot achieve," said Todd Allen, the Bed & Breakfast Association of Kentucky's Green Lodging Certification Committee Chairperson.
While the Arkansas site certainly lacks teeth when it comes to criteria for lodging inclusion, it is good to see the state beginning to emphasize the importance of sustainable travel. It is even better to see Kentucky launch a program with strict guidelines for participation.
If your property is in a state that currently has no green lodging certification program or does not promote itself as a green destination, don't you think it is time to lobby for change? Contact the leaders of your state hotel and lodging association and tourism office and ask why your state is being left behind.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
According to the article, the tree planting program is just one of the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego's green initiatives. The property also recycles bottles and cans as well as kitchen grease and actively seeks out produce and fish from local vendors. The hotel also has a towel/linen reuse program, motion detectors to turn off lights, and the hotel's company car is a Toyota Prius.
I am sure your employees would first appreciate financial compensation for a job well done. In addition to that, however, having trees planted in their name is a great idea. The American Forests' Global ReLeaf program is just one program to consider. The Arbor Day Foundation is another great organization. They will even send you trees to plant. In what ways are you rewarding your employees and helping the environment at the same time? I would love to read your thoughts.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
According to a report in the Napa Valley Register, the ownership group is expected to raise rates at the 132-room hotel by $15 to $20 a night. The hotel is currently running a 65 percent occupancy. The hotel, managed by Marin Management Inc. of Sausalito, Calif., will maintain its green features during the transition. The hotel has a solar photovoltaic system on its roof and includes touches such as chemical-free landscaping, 100 percent recycled tile, a guest van that uses alternative fuel, waterless urinals, and plates on guestroom doors that include the name of a wild animal, bird or flower. Inside the lobby is a real-time display of how much energy the hotel is using and saving.
Frank Huang, a partner in Butterfly Effect Hotels, expects the Doubletree branding to bring in 25 percent more business.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The Bauers are offering their inn as a collection point for spent inkjet cartridges, used cell phones and ipods, digital cameras and laptops. They mail the items to a company that properly recycles or disposes of them. In exchange for sending in the items, the inn receives a check made out to their favorite nonprofit organization. "To date, we have received $150 back for mailing in trash," the couple says.
The Humane Society of Inverness is the recipient of the money. The organization helps to neuter/spay feral cats. The Bauers kick in additional volunteer time to help the nonprofit. "Our island cats are spayed/neutered/vaccinated and given a clean bill of health before being released back into their environment to live out their lives kitten free," the Bauers said.
No matter the size of your property--the Faraway Inn has just five employees--you can still make a difference in your community and reduce the flow of waste to landfills. You can write to the Bauers at email@example.com to learn more about their efforts.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
In today's world of electronic publishing, where everything is constantly "live" and can be updated or changed easily, it is easier to correct mistakes. However, the electronic world presents its own challenges as well and any travel-related business dipping its toes into electronic publishing needs to be careful.
As most of you know, I produce an electronic newsletter each week. I recently redesigned the newsletter along with the Green Lodging News website. As part of this transition, I began to work with a new company that distributes electronic newsletters. Everything went fine the first couple of weeks. Yesterday, however, I received an e-mail from the company claiming that someone on my list had been spammed with my newsletter. Turns out this person represents an organization called Spamhaus. I had never heard of Spamhaus and of course I do not intentionally spam anyone. In fact, anyone not wishing to receive my newsletter can opt out with one easy click.
Because of this one person making a spam claim, my account was shut down. I will certainly find another company to use but the lesson learned here is that no matter how clean your e-mail distribution list is, you are always vulnerable to spam claims--whether because of the efforts of a competitor, an unhappy customer or reader, or someone (a guest) who happened to forget that they signed up for your e-mail publication.
Electronic publishing is a risky world indeed. The lesson learned here? Always have a backup plan. Just one person clicking a spam button can stop you in your tracks.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I just had an opportunity to interview Brian Gorski, director of engineering at the Hyatt Regency in Boston. He has worked at the hotel since 1993. After 18 years at the property, Brian has a tremendous amount of knowledge about what makes the property efficient or inefficient. Thanks in part to Brian's work, the hotel was just awarded the EPA's prestigious Energy Star rating. Brian told me the hotel's electricity consumption has dropped by a whopping 42 percent since he started working there. At one time the hotel consumed 12.3 million kilowatts of electricity per year; now the property consumes just 7.1 million kilowatts annually.
There are many things that have contributed to the plunge in power consumption: training, investments in new lighting, a guestroom energy management system, motion detectors for lighting, variable frequency drives, new heating and cooling systems, and much more. Brian has helped lead the effort to update heating, cooling and other equipment that has seen its better days. The hotel's owners have spent about $3 million on updates over the last 10 to 12 years.
Behind the scenes of our nation's largest hotels, engineers like Brian are having a huge positive impact on reducing our industry's environmental footprint. If someone like Brian works in your hotel, be sure to give that person the credit and recognition he or she deserves.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Hotels will still be allowed to permit smoking in 20 percent of their guestrooms. That is bad news for the housekeepers who will have to clean those rooms. Many studies have proven the danger of secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Health officials in Kansas estimate that 4,000 Kansans die from smoking-related disease every year, about 300 through secondhand smoke. The Kansas Health Policy Authority estimates the smoking ban could result in more than 2,000 fewer heart attacks and a $21 million reduction in hospital charges for heart attacks alone. Unfortunately, the state exempted state-owned casinos from the smoking ban.
As of April of this year, 38 states and the District of Columbia had local laws in effect that require 100 percent smoke-free workplaces and/or restaurants and/or bars.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Why should those who run Green Seal, Green Globe, Audubon Green Leaf and the other programs be concerned? Green Key, which already dominates the Canada market, appears to be pulling ahead in the race for certification business here in the United States. Just launched in the United States last September, Green Key has already been adopted as the certification program for the State of Indiana, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has committed its U.S. hotels to the program, Accor North America is piloting the program, Sofitel Luxury Hotels adopted the program for its U.S. hotels, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association just partnered with HAC and LRA Worldwide to offer a discount for its members interested in pursuing Green Key certification.
Yes, Green Seal has all of Kimpton's hotels and U.S. Great Wolf Resorts locked up, and Audubon Green Leaf is the accepted program in New York State, but Green Key appears to be pulling ahead in the race for acceptance. (Green Globe is not making much headway with U.S. hotels.)
Will Green Key continue its momentum? Time will tell. It will definitely be interesting to watch.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The lead author of the study, John Wargo, Ph.D., professor of Risk Analysis and Environmental Policy at Yale University, says the following: "Although the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program has effectively encouraged energy efficiency in buildings, tighter buildings often concentrate chemicals released from building materials, cleaning supplies, fuel combustion, pesticides and other hazardous substances."
EHHI is especially concerned that the LEED program is now providing the false impression that the buildings it certifies protect human health. EHHI says USGBC's Platinum rating is attainable without earning any credits for indoor air quality protection. (Green Lodging News reported earlier this year that LEED certified hotels can include smoking rooms. See article.)
EHHI recommends that numerous changes be made to the LEED program so that it becomes more health protective. To learn more about EHHI's findings and recommendations, click here. The report is a very important document.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Beaver Club's Chef Martin Paquet will be using the goat cheese in a variety of dishes to complement the restaurant's renowned cuisine, from entrees to desserts.
Snow White is a Saanen breed of goat, which originally comes from the Saanen Valley of Switzerland and is registered with the the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation. Snow White is, of course, a lady. She will not live at the hotel but at a local farm.
This a great idea and a great way to engage guests, especially children visiting the hotel. Now if the hotel would just adopt seven chickens. Then they would have...you guessed it I am sure...Snow White and the Seven Chickens.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The second company, Bathroom Brake, makes a similar product that helps put the brake on toilet paper rolling. It is even scented to...well, you know...help cover unpleasant odors that tend to linger in that general area. The company says its product will save 25 percent or more of wasted paper.
Be sure to check out these products and let me know what you think. Especially in a hotel, where toilet paper flies off the shelves, doing something to minimize paper waste makes sense. According to Biway Products, 45 billion rolls of toilet paper are used in North America each year. That equates to a lot of trees being felled and a lot of water and air pollution.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Having the ability to meet a portion of their electricity needs is certainly one of the reasons for their investments. But it seems that what many owners are trying to do is make some type of statement. What kind of statement? That they are committed to renewable energy and the protection of the environment in general. That they are willing to spend what is necessary to brand their property in a highly visible manner as one that is progressive and green. That they are willing to be groundbreakers--even when there is no ROI in sight.
I recently wrote about the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield, N.H. The owners of that property spent $500,000 on their 100-kilowatt wind turbine. The marketing manager for the Mountain View Grand said the owners paid for the turbine out of their own pockets because "it was the right thing to do." The owners of the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, Mass., paid about $4.2 million for their 1.5-megawatt wind turbine. The expected payback time on their investment? About eight to nine years. For most property owners, eight or nine years is too long to wait to see a return.
I frequently come across individuals who have deep pockets and who are willing to invest in technologies that require ROI patience. Some make good decisions to make their green statements; others do not. Without owners willing to set examples for others, however, new technologies such as wind turbines will never mature in our industry. I commend those investors for showing leadership--even when the business case is questionable.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
There are some who say purchasing offsets is the easy way to get to carbon neutrality but the Delta Chelsea has done a lot on its own to reduce its environmental footprint. From 2005 to 2009, it reduced its carbon emissions by 64 percent. The hotel diverted 84 percent of its waste stream to recycling in 2009 and was selected as the winner of the 2008 Energy & Environment Award by the Hotel Association of Canada.
"As a business operating in a large community such as Toronto, the Delta Chelsea recognizes and respects its corporate responsibility to make it a stronger and better place to live," says Josef Ebner, regional vice-president and managing director, Delta Chelsea Hotel. "As a quality organization, this is a key focus for our hotel and for our company. To that end, we will always consider the environment in our decision-making, striving to take action that will positively impact the environment and that will go beyond existing regulations and legislation."
Congratulations to the Delta Chelsea Hotel for achieving "carbon neutrality."
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The country having the worst environmental impact is Brazil, followed by the United States, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, India, Russia, Australia, and Peru. The study found that the wealthier the country, based on gross national income, the greater the likelihood of being an environmental offender. It's a good thing the study was done prior to the recent oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
Something tells me we won't be seeing the results of this study in any collateral promoting the United States as a tourism destination.
Thanks to Robert Kravitz at AlturaSolutions Communications and Sustainability Dashboard Tools for sharing this news item with me.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Living Green Magazine, an online publication, is providing live updates from the oil spill on its website. The site's Gulf-spill section includes the latest news from major media sources, blogs from the staff of the Natural Resources Defense Council, videos and photos from the oil spill zone, hotline phone numbers where people can report beach and wildlife endangerment, links to organizations asking for donations and volunteers, and ideas for how people can take action wherever they are.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also established a website to inform the public about the oil spill's impact on the environment and the health of nearby residents. The site contain's data from the EPA's ongoing monitoring along with other information about the agency's activities in the region.
Additional information on the broader response from the U.S. Coast Guard and other responding agencies is available by clicking here.
Of course all of the major news agencies are providing updates as well.
Let's hope BP finds a way to stop the massive oil leak soon. It is already too late for some areas of the Gulf Coast.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I checked the American Hotel & Lodging Association website and there still has not been an official response made to the oil spill. Why not? The U.S. Travel Association issued a statement early on that it was working with member organizations in the affected states to monitor the situation but it also still has not taken an official stance critical of the spill. Again, why not? We should all be furious!
The truth is that our industry, like every single one of us, is extremely addicted to what BP was drilling for in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil, at least for now, is our industry's oxygen. While yelling about corporate irresponsibility and the damage being done to the water and life of the Gulf of Mexico, we should all be thinking about how to transition to cleaner, renewable energy. In the meantime, however, we do have every right to be furious. I just wish our industry would collectively express that more forcefully.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This spring, as part of its "Love Your Trees, Love Your Community, Love Your Earth" initiative, Doubletree is working with the Arbor Day Foundation to help educate kids about the importance of trees, environmental stewardship in the community, and their positive impact on the environment. Students are being encouraged to pledge and practice 10 easily doable tree conservation challenges.
This Thursday, May 20, Shannon Dunavent, general manager of the Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby/Detroit Downtown, along with her hotel team, will host a Community Urban Garden planting in Detroit. Students and teachers from Gompers Elementary School will help transform a courtyard of concrete into a "Made in Michigan" educational garden. More than 350 tree seedlings will be planted.
The Detroit event is the culmination of more than 175 similar events that have been celebrated during the past month by 10,000 grade school students and hundreds of Doubletree employees as part of a global adopt-a-school initiative.
Teaching Kids to Care is now eight years old and still going strong. Congratulations to Doubletree for touching the lives of more than 150,000 students in 200 communities.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
It is pretty obvious that CityCenter did not open at the best time but it is what it is. According to an article in the Las Vegas Sun, the complex, which is owned by MGM Mirage and Dubai World, recorded an operating loss of $255 million in the first quarter of this year. That includes a $171 million write-down in the value of the project's condos. It has only been able to finalize sales of about 100 of its 2,400 luxury condominiums. The owners are also involved in a dispute with the project's chief contractor, Perini Building Co., over about $500 million in construction fees. Before accounting for the write-down and other charges, CityCenter incurred a loss of $32 million. When you think about it that way, things could have been a lot worse.
Company officials and industry experts do see better things on the horizon for CityCenter and Las Vegas as the economy improves and groups and individual travelers return to the city. The project, plagued by problems from its beginning, does deserve a chance to shine--especially since it is one of the best examples of green building design in the United States. I will report back here after my visit to CityCenter next week. Have you been to CityCenter? If so, what did you think? I will look forward to reading your comments.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
In "Ecotourists Save the World," Pamela K. Brodowsky and the National Wildlife Federation detail 300 international voluntourism opportunities--from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer, Alaska to the Hen and Chickens Islands Weeding Project in North Auckland Peninsula, New Zealand. With each location the author provides a project description, location, contact information, cost, dates and duration, and field notes (level of fitness required, age limitations, etc.)
According to the author, one in three amphibians, nearly half of all turtles and tortoises, one in four mammals, one in five sharks and rays, and one in eight bird species are now considered at risk of extinction. So, there is certainly a lot of work to do.
How are you using voluntourism to put more heads in beds? I would love to read your comments.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The environmental benefits to Make a Green Choice are significant. Of course there are labor savings as well. I gave the program a lot of praise in my article and still believe the concept makes a lot of sense.
According to an article in "The Canadian Press" dated May 5, however, some hotel workers in Toronto are saying programs like Make a Green Choice are fake green programs. Workers at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto are saying that it takes three times longer to clean a room that has gone without cleaning for several days and requires more cleaning fluids. With so many guests participating in the program at that hotel, housekeepers have also lost work hours.
This is one of those instances where a very good idea--one that results in greater business and environmental efficiency--causes unexpected pain. I can certainly understand the housekeepers' concerns. How would you solve a dilemma like this while still running a socially responsible enterprise? I would love to hear from you with your comments.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Assuming for a moment that what Kimberly-Clark is promoting is fact, are paper towels an environmentally preferable alternative to hand dryers? Here, Kimberly-Clark's case is shaky. While the company is obviously taking a poke at companies such as Excel Dryer and Dyson B2B, Inc., those hand dryer companies make a very strong case for reducing a hotel's environmental impact through the use of their products. According to Excel Dryer, their XLERATOR hand dryer reduces the carbon footprint of hand drying (when compared to paper towels) by 50 percent to 75 percent. For the same cost as one paper towel, Dyson's Airblade hand dryer will dry 22 pairs of hands.
Back to the hygiene argument. Dyson says its Airblade hand dryer uses a HEPA filter to filter the air before it is blown on a person's hands. Excel Dryer, on its website, cites studies that prove that how one dries one's hands matters little when it comes to bacteria on the hands.
What do I think? I have to side with the hand dryer folks. I just can't believe that cutting down trees, making paper and then transporting it is a more environmentally preferable option than hand dryers. What do you think?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
What concerns me is one of the reasons the company is having cash flow issues. It is having a more difficult time selling its products to U.S. hotel companies because those firms are buying their products from companies in overseas countries such as China instead. Those companies are able to sell my client's particular type of product for about one-third less. I know what you are thinking: "Tell me something I don't know."
My client has one of the best green stories to tell in our industry. Its products are recyclable and made from sustainable materials. Yet, because my clients' products are made here in the United States--where labor and other costs are higher--my client is bleeding business. Meanwhile, companies in places like China benefit and badly needed dollars leave the United States.
In a traditional global economy, the companies that produce most efficiently at the lowest cost deserve to win. That said, in a global economy where sustainability and environmental responsibility are a priority, buying locally made goods is the most responsible thing to do, even if there is a cost premium. Those dollars invested trickle throughout the local economy and help everyone. Of course buying locally results in a much smaller carbon footprint as well.
It is easy for me to say because I do not own and operate a large hotel but wherever you live--in the United States or elsewhere--support local companies first. It will be one of the most sustainable things you can do.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Perhaps you have heard the statistics before: Though water covers our world, more than 97 percent is salty. Two percent is fresh water locked in snow and ice, leaving less than 1 percent for us. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live where water is scarce.
The hospitality industry can do a lot to help conserve water and use it more wisely--without necessarily impacting the guest experience. The Green Lodging News website includes many water conservation tips but the "no brainers" include: towel and linen reuse programs; low-flow toilets, showerheads and aerators; pre-rinse spray valves in kitchens; serving water only upon request in restaurants; recycling water from laundry operations; and planting plants and trees native to your local area. Smart golf course management is also important as 2 billion gallons of water are needed every day just to irrigate U.S. golf courses.
What unique steps have you taken to conserve water at your property? Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this blog.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Happy Earth Day! For someone who edits and publishes a green publication--Green Lodging News--Earth Day is the best day of the year and certainly worthy of being a national holiday. Ideally, Earth Day should be a day when all of us volunteer to help clean up our planet and commit to being better stewards of the natural resources Mother Nature provides us.
I have been swamped with press releases the last few weeks from properties announcing Earth Day commitments and celebrations. Here are just a few examples:
- Hyatt Regency Aruba is holding an Earth Week. The property already hosted a trade show for local businesses to showcase their environmentally friendly products. Today, the property will have a tree planting.
- At Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort Riviera Maya, guests will tour the resort grounds and learn about the native flora and fauna and plant mangrove trees. Children will have an opportunity to create artwork using recycled newspapers and plastic bottles.
- The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake hosted a day of activities including a T-shirt design contest, aluminum can recycling drive, and group cleanup of Geneva State Park.
- Accor North America is holding its annual Accor Earth Guest Day. Activities include the cleaning up of local parks, collecting items for recycling, planting hundreds of trees, donating clothes and toys, and collection of used linens for donation.
- In recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day (April 30), students at partner schools of Doubletree hotels are committing to complete a series of "Tree Task of the Day" activities--everything from creating a recycling bin at home to creatively repurposing paper bags.
- Chefs and other culinary officials who work for Delaware North Companies are pledging to refrain from using 90 percent of the fish and seafood species that are listed on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch "avoid" list.
- Atmosphere Hospitality Management announced its new Adoba Eco Hotel & Suites brand. Each will be built to earn LEED Gold or Platinum certification.
- Hilton New York team members and their families will participate in an Earth Day tree planting on Randall's Island.
- Great Wolf Resorts is celebrating the one-year anniversary of earning Green Seal certification for all of its properties.
- Pineapple Hospitality has launched a new website called GreenerHotels.com. Hotels will have to be certified by one or more of six certification programs to be listed on the site.
These are just some of the activities that have already taken place or will be taking place. This year's Earth Day is the 40th one. Be sure to take some time to think about what you can do to lighten your property's environmental footprint in the coming year. Once again, happy Earth Day!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Thanks to the study, changes are in the works. Effective immediately, according to a recent EPA/DOE press release, manufacturers wishing to qualify their products as Energy Star must submit complete lab reports and results for review and approval prior to labeling. EPA will no longer rely on an automated approval process. All new qualification applications will be reviewed and approved individually by EPA. By the end of this year, all manufacturers must submit test results from an approved, accredited lab for any product seeking the Energy Star label. Testing in an accredited lab is currently only required for some products. The new process will extend the requirement to each of the more than 60 eligible product categories under the Energy Star program.
It is encouraging that the Energy Star program is being strengthened. What is disappointing and shocking is how much "teeth" the program lacked for so long. It is just one more reason to always question and challenge government-run programs. Your thoughts?
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This week, according to a press release issued by UNITE HERE, the union organization that represents hospitality workers, nearly 50 housekeepers traveled to Houston to participate in OSHA's National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety. The conference is sponsored by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The housekeepers are participating in the Summit to bring attention to the high rates of injury for hotel housekeepers--in particular Latino housekeepers.
Just prior to the start of the OSHA Summit, housekeepers revealed their Hope Quilt, a 150-foot quilt made by housekeepers from across North America. Each patch on the quilt represents a story of pain or injury caused by working in hotels.
The housekeepers certainly have a right to be concerned. According to John Wilhelm, the president of UNITE HERE, "Hotels are the only place we know that Latina workers face higher injury rates...."
As mentioned in one of my previous columns, it is imperative that those who employ housekeepers do what is necessary to provide the proper training, tools and cleaning products to ensure an ergonomically and chemically safe working environment. There is no excuse for workplace injuries--ever.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
At the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, more than 390,000 honey bees are expected to produce 500 pounds of honey. At the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, nearly 800 pounds of honey has been harvested since June 2008, much of it going into the hotel's cocktails and cuisine. At the Fairmont Washington, D.C. (see related article), three hives each have their own names: Casa Bella, Casa Blanca, and Casa Bianca. At the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, eight hives will be in place by June. Each hive will host about 4,000 honey-making bees. The first honey harvest is expected by September. The resort will offer lectures for guests so they can learn about bees and honey production.
At the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, honey is harvested three times each year from four hives. Each hive contains about 70,000 bees. The hives produce more than enough honey for the hotel; the excess is sold to guests. At the Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, honey is showcased in Chef Ryan Dunne's cooking at the hotel's three restaurants.
Beekeeping requires expertise and is certainly not something one can start alone. In launching its hives, Fairmont partnered with area experts. To become aware of beekeeping basics, there is plenty of information online. Whatever you do, don't get stung in the process.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Travelzoo's Earth Day hotel deals page features offers from only LEED-certified hotels. All deals are researched and test-booked by Travelzoo staff. A few examples of deals offered: The Orchard Hotel is offering a $99 rate--a $100 discount; the CityFlats Hotel in Holland, Mich., is offering a rate of $109--an $80 discount; and the Courtyard Portland City Center (Ore.) is offering a $94 rate--a $75 discount.
Travelocity is highlighting the top 40 green hotel deals on its site. Savings of up to 40 percent are available. The company will flag the more than 75 global eco-friendly hotels participating in the sale with an "Earth Day" sale tag, and only hotels that are included in Travelocity's Green Hotel Directory are eligible to participate. Travelocity's Green Hotel Directory currently includes more than 1,500 global eco-friendly hotels.
I have received many press releases from individual hotel properties that are offering Earth Day packages. What will you be doing this year to put more heads in beds on the greenest day of the year?
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I just received a press release from the Seaport Hotel in Boston. The hotel will soon offer guests a charging station in the Seaport Garage. It is located directly below the hotel. There will be no "charge" for guests to use the charging station and guests driving electric vehicles will also receive a free night of valet parking. What the Seaport Hotel is doing is a great idea and a demonstration of leadership--not waiting until charging stations are an expected amenity.
The Seaport is not the first hotel to offer a charging station. Starwood's Element property in Lexington, Mass. has one and Starwood plans to install charging stations at its other Element properties. According to The New York Times, Hyatt installed several at its hotels in California as far back as 2007.
Have you considered installing a charging station at your property? How long will you wait to do so? (Click here for information on charging stations.) I will look forward to reading your comments.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Element Hotels, Starwood's 100 percent LEED certified brand, currently has hotels open in the following cities: Lexington, Mass.; Las Vegas; Baltimore; Denver; Dallas; Houston; and Ewing, N.J. Additonal Elements will open later this year in New York City and Omaha, Neb.
Starwood's promotion is a great way to bring attention to the waste problem associated with water sold in plastic bottles. As written about in one of my previous columns, about 60 million water bottles are discarded daily. Only about 12 percent of them are recycled. Producing those bottles burns 1.5 million barrels of crude oil annually. Bottled water is 500 to 1,000 times more expensive than tap water and not necessarily safer to drink.
"We thought this would be a fun, timely way to engage guests on recycling, which has been in practice at Element from day one," said Brian McGuinness, senior vice president, Specialty-Select Brands, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Element guests keep telling us they want to take an active role in our efforts around environmental responsibility, and this is a very rewarding way for them to do it."
As part of the "I Am Not a Plastic Package," Element will also offer a complimentary reusable water bottle at check-in as part of the package.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
After writing that article I heard from the marketing director at Amble Resorts. Amble Resorts is a resort development company specializing in ecologically and culturally sensitive resorts. Their first resort project is The Resort at Isla Palenque. Ground will be broken this year on the project located on an island off the coast of Panama. Turns out the resort also has a mascot but not one that walks around in a costume. The mascot's name is Thurston Howler III. Anyone familiar with the old Gilligan's Island TV show knows the name is a play on the Thurston Howell III character.
Thurston Howler III is a real howler monkey who lives on the resort island. The marketing folks at Amble Resorts created a Facebook page for the monkey. (Click here to check it out.) Believe it or not, the monkey already has 88 friends (almost as many as me--yikes!). Thurston is in an open relationship (is a real swinger I am sure), spends a lot of time howling with 20 of his closest friends, and loves music by The Monkees and The Beatles. No surprise there.
What Amble Resorts has done with Thurston's Facebook page is a great idea--an excellent way to create a little buzz about an upcoming green project. If you could select a mascot for your property, what animal or character would you choose? I would love to know.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Divers and snorkelers will be taught how to boost coral reef recovery, those interested in waste management will learn how to create home-made compost, arborist wannabes can plant trees five hours a day, guests can give a 30-minute talk at local schools or work with locals to produce cadjan roofing material, which is later sold to bring money into the community.
Six Senses Resorts & Spas is just one of many companies attempting to tap into the demand for "voluntourism" opportunities. It is a great way to attract new business and a great way to help the local community and environment as well. What types of voluntourism packages has your property created? I would love to learn about them. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Why the decrease in concern about the environment? Gallup speculates that one reason Americans may be less worried about environmental problems is that they perceive environmental conditions in the United States to be improving. Gallup adds that the decrease in concern may also be a reflection of greater public attention on economic issues.
Does the level of Americans' concern reflect reality? Gallup does not address this but in at least one instance--the drop in concern about the loss of tropical rain forests--some Americans are ill informed. According to experts, the planet is still losing 1.5 acres of rain forest every second and 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rain forest deforestation.
Have I detected a comparable drop in environmental concern in the lodging industry? Not at all. In fact, the opposite is occurring. What are your thoughts?
*Gallup surveyed a random sample of 1,014 adults from March 4 to 7, 2010.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The report is in line with the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) G3 guidelines. The GRI guidelines are the most widely accepted and used standards for sustainability reporting. Monthly environmental reporting, and the annual Status Report, compiled by the management team at each hotel, form the foundation for Rezidor's Responsible Business reporting.
Highlights of the report include Rezidor's Responsible Business history, detailed economic and environmental results of the company's actions, social results, and a summary of progress in chart format. Rezidor readily admits that its overall carbon impact increased in 2009 because of the additional hotels it opened. However, emissions per room night or per guest night decreased by 8 percent in 2009.
The Rezidor Hotel Group is one of just a handful of companies in the lodging industry that generate a sustainability or responsible business report. Isn't it time for more to do the same?
To access the Rezidor 2009 Responsible Business Report, click here. Look for a guest column focusing on sustainability reports soon at the Green Lodging News website.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
"My honest recommendation is that without the buy-in and fully engaged commitment of the CEO of the company (or the chair of an organization) it is not meaningful to start a sustainability program," Bergkvist says in his book.
Why do leaders ignore sustainability? Bergkvist says it is often because they do not understand the business case for it, or they don't understand the concept at all. To help upper level managers move their organizations toward sustainability, Bergkvist offers suggestions in areas such as energy management, chemicals, waste and recycling, traveling and transportation, water, procurement, diversity, food, and sustainable construction.
Bergkvist concludes his book by addressing topics such as eco-labeling, sustainable meetings, and governance and ethics. To purchase a copy of his book, e-mail him at email@example.com.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Why the skepticism? The Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued Notices of Proposed Civil Penalty to four manufacturers for failing to certify that their showerheads meet the applicable water conservation standard as required by the Energy Policy Conservation Act and DOE regulations. The Notices collectively propose penalties of more than $3 million. Unless the manufacturers settle the claims within 30 days, the DOE can file actions in District Court or with an Administrative Law Judge to demand payment for the failure to certify these products.
Notices of Proposed Civil Penalty were issued to Zoe Industries, Altmans Products LLC, EZ-FLO International, and Watermark Designs, Ltd. after complaints were received about non-conserving products being sold by these companies. Conservation professionals have been concerned about the prevalence of high-flow showerheads on the market for several years and submitted information to the DOE on the suspected scofflaws.
Are the showerheads you purchased properly certified to be water efficient? If they are not, you can report potential violations. Forward your request, along with the manufacturer name, address, and model number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, March 5, 2010
At the conference I had an opportunity to chat with Kurt Ritter, president and CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group, of which Carlson Companies is the main shareholder. Brussels, Belgium-based Rezidor has long had a reputation for being a leader throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR). In fact, Carlson's new executive vice president, human resources and responsible business, Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, recently joined Carlson here in the United States after working for Rezidor.
In my chat with Kurt Ritter I learned that Rezidor will release its 2009 Sustainability Report in the next two weeks. (Click here to access previous versions of that report.) Ritter said the report is something the company is required to generate because it is a listed company. I also learned that each Rezidor hotel has its own responsible business coordinator who is responsible for reporting monthly to the head office, and that Rezidor has 120 properties with some type of eco-label. Rezidor gives its guests the option of offsetting their travel and provides its hoteliers with an online environmental best practices database for the sharing of ideas. All employees and managers are required to undergo training in responsible business. Rezidor will hold a Responsible Business Action Month this September.
My impression is that from an environmental perspective, The Rezidor Hotel Group is ahead of Carlson here in North America. Perhaps with the appointment of Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, that will begin to change. To stay abreast of The Rezidor Hotel Group's investments in the area of CSR, visit their website.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Green Mill Village is expected to incorporate wind and solar technologies to generate power. Most building materials will come from within a few miles of the hotel. Furniture for the hotel will be made by local craftsmen. The retail center will include items made by local Amish.
The education center will provide guests and others with a snapshot of the region and village, as well as offer interactive videos focused on agriculture, alternative energy and responsible tourism. Green Mill Village will work with local schools to offer on-the-job training in hospitality management.
Green Mill Village will be located near Arcola, Ill., a little more than two hours from Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. According to The News-Gazette, the $30 million to $40 million resort will be funded by a combination of private equity and traditional bank financing. Click here for more information on Green Mill Village.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A second article tackles the issue of determining the financial value of a solar or wind energy system. For example, in areas where electricity costs are higher, solar and wind systems have more value. Of course being able to sell electricity one generates back to the utility is also important. This can be done in 42 states in the United States thanks to net-metering laws. Incentives and tax benefits also should be considered when determining system value.
The website also includes an article that includes a link to a spreadsheet that allows one to calculate the payback time and internal-rate-of-return for a proposed photovoltaic project. A significant amount of preparation is required prior to using the spreadsheet. For example, it asks for the annual energy output of the solar system as well as initial system cost.
Shopping for a solar system can be an intimidating process. Make use of the tools found at the American Solar Energy Society website. And, be sure to pick the brains of knowledgeable vendors. They should be able to answer any questions you may have, especially those in regard to available rebates in your area.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Green Lodging News first featured the Centre in June 2007 (see article). What is so unique about the Centre? It includes a six-acre living roof, the largest living roof in Canada and the largest non-industrial living roof in North America. A restored marine habitat is built into the foundation of the building. A seawater heating and cooling system takes advantage of the adjacent seawater to produce cooling for the building during the warmer months and heating in cooler months. (See related release.)
The Vancouver Convention Centre is the second property to earn LEED Platinum in recent weeks. The Bardessono in Yountville, Calif., also has earned LEED Platinum (see article). They join Greensboro, North Carolina's Proximity Hotel as the only travel-related properties to earn Platinum. Congratulations to those three properties.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Most firms do not have a "green travel policy" yet, but travelers said more than twice as many businesses had a green travel policy in 2009 (11 percent) when compared to 2008 (4 percent).
The survey of Canadian travelers is the sixth annual Canadian Travel Intention study undertaken by the Hotel Association of Canada. The survey was conducted by TSN Canadian Facts and defines a traveler as someone who will stay at least one night in a hotel, motel, or resort. The online survey was conducted in December 2009 among 1,524 "likely travelers."
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The survey is being conducted with the assistance of the Sustainable Hospitality Council and will take 20 to 25 minutes to complete. The deadline for completing the survey is February 17, 2010. Click here to access the survey. All information collected will remain confidential. If you have any questions about the survey, write to email@example.com. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this study. It is great to see students getting involved in sustainability research.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Finalists will be selected by Conde Nast Traveler editors, and winners will be chosen by an independent panel of judges. The winners will appear in the September 2010 issue of Conde Nast Traveler. The deadline for entries is February 16, 2010.
Click here to download an application.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
What do you think? Should the fact that a property allows smoking be a deal breaker when it comes to certification? Or, should it be just one other factor that is considered by a certifying organization--at the same level as, say, a low-flow toilet?
Preliminary results of my survey show that certification programs are very inconsistent when it comes to smoking. One president of a certification program indicated that until I brought up the topic, he had never even thought about including a smoking-related question in his certification application. A representative of the most prominent green building certification program in the country told me that yes, one's hotel can be certified even if it allows smoking in guestrooms. Wow.
If your property is green certified but still allows smoking, I would like to know why you believe there is nothing ironic about that. My e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Jantzen is well known for his designs that work with nature. His website includes designs for a sky-cloud pavilion, eco-tower and sun tower, elements theme park and much more. Will a hotel/slope be built any time soon? I doubt it, but it is refreshing to see that architects like Jantzen are at least thinking about a more sustainable approach to hotel building. While buildings built to LEED standards are great, they are just one step toward what are considered "living buildings" or "net zero" buildings--buildings that either produce more power than they consume, or the same amount that they consume.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wen-I Chang, the developer of the Gaia Anderson property and someone I have had the privilege of meeting several times, said he was shooting for LEED Gold. Why did the developer fall short of the Gold designation? According to the article, Chang's primary investor, the Far East Bank, pulled $1.5 million intended for an array of solar panels atop the Gaia Anderson property. Far East Bank also withdrew its financing for a third Gaia hotel planned for Merced, Calif.
Chang certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. LEED Silver is a great achievement. And, there still may be LEED Gold on the horizon, according to the article. Wen may add the solar panels later and then shoot for LEED Gold for Existing Buildings.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
In response to the second question, "Do you think 'green' certified hotels are driving consumer choice?", just 25 respondents said "yes" and 84 said "no." In this case, the viewpoint of respondents is closer to that reflected in other surveys that have been taken over the last couple of years.
DLA Piper concludes its paper by stating: "Rather than looking at the bottom line, these responses seem to suggest that the U.S. hospitality industry has largely approached sustainability on its merits alone, discounting the financial performance of green hotels in the near term." How the authors of the survey paper came to this conclusion is beyond me. The questions were not posed to draw this type of conclusion.
To read the paper yourself, click here.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
1. Orlando hotelier Harris Rosen, president and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, is coordinating a Haitian outreach program with a goal of raising $1 million. All of the contributions received by the Harris Rosen Foundation will go toward relief efforts.
2. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is encouraging the 47 million members of its guest loyalty program, Priority Club Rewards, to donate their points to the American Red Cross. Rewards members can donate their points in 10,000-point denominations. Points will be converted into cash by IHG.
3. Members of Choice Hotels International's Choice Privileges program are being asked to donate points. For every 1,000 points redeemed, Choice will donate $5 to the American Red Cross.
4. Marriott International announced that it had donated $500,000 to the Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund. Marriott is giving 18,000 loyalty points to those loyalty program customers who donate $50.
5. Hilton Hotels Corp. said it will match total member donations dollar for dollar--up to $250,000--through its guest loyalty program.
6. Loews Corp. donated $25,000 to the Red Cross.
7. Starwood Hotels & Resorts said it will match donations to the Starwood Associate Relief Fund and UNICEF up to $100,000.
8. Hyatt Hotels Corp. is allowing Gold Passport members to donate 5,000 points for a $40 donation to relief efforts.
9. Delaware North Companies donated more than 17,000 bottles of water the day after the earthquake.
10. Carlson will donate $50,000 and will match employee contributions up to an additional $60,000.
Once again, it is great to see the travel industry respond so quickly to help the people of Haiti.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Best Western International announced that Best Western Rewards members can contribute rewards points to the relief effort. Frequency program members can go to www.bestwestern.com/haitirelief to make a donation of points that ultimately will translate to funds being donated to World Vision, Best Western's official charity partner.
Through March 31, the Sheraton Atlanta will donate $10 per night for every guest who stays at the hotel using one of two newly created "Haiti Relief Care" packages. The packages include free parking and one free appetizer at the hotel's fine dining restaurant.
Royal Caribbean Cruises just pledged $1 million in humanitarian relief in response to the earthquake. The company is also delivering goods and supplies via their cruise ships.
One lodging industry vendor, RJT Products, LLC, announced that it would donate $5 to the American Red Cross each time it sells one of its Travel Laundry Bags.
It is encouraging to see the travel industry step up during Haiti's time of need. It is going to take a gargantuan effort to put Haiti back together.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
During a conference I attended last year I suggested the idea of incentives and met resistance from some owners. Their thinking: We are already paying our managers and employees enough, especially in a recessionary economy...why should they need incentives to work hard?
Yesterday I posted an article about HEI Hotels & Resorts receiving a corporate Energy Manager of the Year award from the Association of Energy Engineers. Within that article there was mention of an incentive program launched at the beginning of 2009 by HEI. The company started a competition among its hotels. Prizes ranged from gift cards to flat-screen TVs. Associates were rewarded for reductions made in energy consumption. The program appears to be working as the company, through October 2009, had observed a reduction in energy consumption of approximately 8 percent when compared to 2008.
I believe incentives linked directly to savings, even if they take the form of a contest, are a great idea. They are obviously working for HEI. What do you think?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I recently received an e-mail from a gentleman whose company owns and operates 1,400 rooms. To become a member of the South Carolina Hospitality Association, his company would have to pay $7.50 per room. The total: $10,500. So, in other words, in a roundabout way, it would cost him $10,500 to have his properties certifed as green. Not exactly an incentive to participate in the South Carolina Green Hospitality Alliance, is it? The gentleman I corresponded with intended to check out national certification programs instead.
If you were in his position, what would you do? I will look forward to your comments.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Also according to The Bellingham Herald, the resort owner is talking about putting video cameras on the roof of the building and under water to capture the antics of orcas and other sea life. Their activities would be broadcast on TVs in the resort building. Local officials are excited about the prospect of a new resort in their community given the area's slow economy. The developer said he hopes to start construction in 2010 and have the resort open by spring 2012.
If I have some pounds to shed in 2012 and feel like generating some electrons while exercising, I will certainly know where to go.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
We should not be surprised that someone was able to get through airport security with a bomb. Humans are bound to make mistakes. Here are a couple of examples from my own family. My father-in-law was visiting from Argentina this fall. My wife and I took him to the airport so that he could get on his plane back to Argentina. Out of ignorance he walked right by the first security checkpoint without being noticed. The security guard was occupied with another person. Of course we called him back so he could go through the checkpoint but the incident proved how easily mistakes can be made. On a recent trip my niece's bottle of water was taken from her while going through security but they missed the two pairs of scissors in her purse. You get the idea. These types of things must happen every day.
As our government and the airline industry increase security procedures in the coming months and years--including adding x-ray machines that show our private parts in detail--let's hope they use a little common sense. Yes, we all need to be secure, but the travel industry is suffering enough as it is; people certainly don't need yet another reason not to travel. What do you think?