In an effort to make properties a little greener, hoteliers are providing guests with eco-friendly amenities such as complimentary bikes, electric car-charging stations and in-house farmers markets.
GLOBAL REPORT—When it comes to making hotels a little greener, hoteliers are going beyond traditional hotel features such as changing towels less frequently and installing eco-friendly light bulbs to make properties more sustainable.
With the growth of environmentally conscious guests and employees, hoteliers are coming up with different ways to provide guests with more sustainable amenities.
Ride, drive, charge
At Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants properties around the country, guests can check out a bike and cruise around the city at no additional cost.
Nabil Moubayed, director of operations at Kimpton‘s Midwest properties, said the company implemented its complimentary bike service about five years ago.
“It was sort of an experiment at first,” he said. “Our precursor to the bikes, it was and (still) is our running with the manager program. We knew we were into fitness, health and wellness, so the next (thing) was the bike for us.”
Moubayed said the complimentary bike service quickly became a hit among guests, which led to the company buying more bikes for its properties.
“As that evolved, we saw that two bikes wasn’t enough, so over the years now, depending on the size of each property, we typically have eight to 10 bikes at each property,” he said.
Guests at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts also have the option to explore Boston on bikes provided by the hotel. Alex Attia, GM at The Charles, said the hotel began the bike program eight years ago.
“We bought (the bikes) when our company bought the Liberty Hotel in Boston,” Attia said. “Guests of Liberty or The Charles can pick up a bike and ride back and forth through Boston, or ride from Charles to Liberty, leave the bike there and then we pick it up and vice versa. It really worked out really nicely.”
In addition to complimentary bikes at The Charles, the hotel also provides three electric car charging stations to guests free of charge.
“We were one of the first hotels with the electric charging station in our garage,” he said. “We got them six years ago.”
Sustainable amenities go beyond transportation offerings and even can stretch into food and beverage. The Charles Hotel, for instance, houses a farmers market, which includes local fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. Attia said the hotel started the farmers market 20 years ago.
For Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, sustainable F&B efforts are focused around seafood menus at hotels, according to Andrea Pinabell, VP of sustainability and global citizenship at Starwood.
“One of the things we’ve done across the board is really focus in food and beverage,” she said. “Specifically, we spend a lot of time on sustainable seafood and helping our associates select a variety of seafood that has a positive impact on the local community and ecosystems.”
In 2012, Starwood banned whale and turtle from its food and beverage policy, Pinabell said. The company also removed shark fin from its menus two years ago, she said.
“With the rise in environmental concerns around (sharks,) we did ban shark fin as part of our sustainable food and beverage policy in 2014,” Pinabell said. “With that, we actually committed to a much more broadly-based sustainable seafood program that included a stable food and beverage section … That was our commitment, to help associates around the world make informed decisions that protect our ecosystems and local economies where we operate, specifically in the procurement of seafood.”
An alternative to yard maintenance
In an effort to reduce the property’s carbon footprint and prevent forest fires, the Calistoga Ranch in California’s Napa Valley substituted babydoll Southdown sheep 11 years ago to take care of the yard work at the property. Coni Thornburg, GM at Calistoga Ranch, said the tiny sheep helped the hotel eliminate the need for gas-powered weed eaters by grazing on grass around the property.
“Our little organic lawn mowers munch down the weeds for fire prevention, and also reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need for gas-powered weed eaters,” Thornburg said via email. “And the best part, they’re charming lawn ornaments.”
On top of reducing carbon footprints and preventing forest fires, Thornburg said the sheep are able to get hard to reach places and reduce noise pollution.
“Our guests, especially the littlest ones, love to visit our babydolls,” Thornburg said. “They’re very sweet and small in size, and are far less intimidating for children.”