The 99-room TownePlace Suites Denver Airport at Gateway Park is the first new-build LEED-certified property of its brand.
DENVER—Providing more personalized service, particularly regarding sustainabilty efforts, is the driving force behind a new strategy implemented by Marriott International’s TownePlace Suites brand.
“Our service strategy is that we try to get to know our customer a little more,” said Loren Nalewanski, VP of global brand management for TownePlace Suites and Marriott Executive Apartments at Marriott. “The role that TownePlace Suites plays is to teach and tell about what it really means to be responsible—socially responsible on the consumer side, but then also, how does a business bring that to life?”
The company opened its first Leadership-in-Energy-and-Environmental-Design-certified new-build property, the TownePlace Suites Denver Airport at Gateway Park, in May as part of Marriott’s LEED Volume Program.
The goal of the program is to provide a pre-certified hotel design that takes the guesswork out of project design and development for owners and architects, Nalewanski said. “That saves them about $100,000-plus per project … and we’ll do all the work with you pre-opening and post-opening.”
Karl Ewald, president and CEO of Arapahoe Lodging and owner of the TownePlace Suites Denver Airport, said the LEED-construction process can be intimidating, so it was “really nice to have a LEED-in-a-box from Marriott.”
While construction costs on building the 99-room property were higher than other projects Ewald’s company has completed, he is optimistic that it will be beneficial in the long run.
“I think the construction costs are … 3% more, but I think we’ll get that back within five years,” he said.
More and more business travelers are asking about sustainability, and from a marketing perspective, Ewald thought building the property was a good investment.
From an operational standpoint, there are some challenges, said GM Todd Dickson. For example, training the housecleaning staff and teaching them what’s recyclable and not recyclable, he said.
The special products the hotel uses as part of the LEED program also require extensive training. “If we didn’t have a weekly training, it would be even more of a challenge,” Dickson said.
Greening the portfolio
TownePlace Suites has one more property slated to open as part of its LEED Volume Program and has two more under construction, Nalewanski said.
The brand has 207 properties carrying its flag with plans for up to 300 by 2015, he said.
As for the many properties that are not part of the LEED program, TownePlace Suites still requires LED light bulbs as well as energy-star ratings on all appliances.
Motion sensors that control lights also are a standard in back-of-house utility closets, Nalewanski said. “When you think of how many utility closets we have back-of-the-house, that’s one of the last things the housekeepers have on their mind, so we make it easy for them.”
Front of house, the brand has implemented a linen reuse program that requires housekeepers to change the sheets only two times per week if the guest stays that long, otherwise they are changed for every new customer, he said.
Marriott, as a whole, is taking bigger steps this year to brand itself as a socially responsible corporation.
Its Green Hotels Project, launching next year, is going to identify the company’s carbon footprint on a global level. Guests will be able to go online to any hotel website and check the footprint of that property in real time. “We’re requiring it by March,” Nalewanski said.