As green meetings and environment concerns become more prevalent, it’s important for meeting and event planners to increase their own knowledge on the topic of sustainability when selecting green hotels for their programs. After all, hotels account for a significant expense for business and social events because hotels are chosen for either their meeting and event function space or a combination of meetings and guest rooms.
However, as event planners understand the detailed logistics behind their own events, it’s important to also know what initiatives that hotels may be taking to offer more environmentally friendly services. Vail Resorts – which includes RockResorts – has undertaken a commitment to decrease its environmental footprint and increase the sustainability of the services they offer.
Julie Klein, director of environmental affairs for RockResorts, Vail, CO, is dedicated to supporting this goal. Klein has embraced 10 initiatives to adopt within Vail Resorts’ hotels and properties. From property-wide initiatives to guest rooms, food and beverage or spas, Klein advises event planners to ask their hotels about what specific efforts are being made as it relates to the following:
- Energy Conservation.
From central operations such as boilers to lighting systems, kitchen equipment, and automated energy management systems, hotels globally are working to reduce energy use while sustaining – and whenever possible enhancing – the guest experience.
- Water conservation.
Within guest rooms, laundries, kitchens, and pools and spas, hotels continue to phase in efficiencies that reduce water and in many cases chemicals that are used to treat water systems and clean facilities. Efforts include linen and towel reuse programs that are now an industry standard to installation of low-flow faucets, showerheads and other fixtures.
- Recycling and waste reduction.
With limited exception for domestic hotels, recycling programs for the basics such as newspapers and beverage containers are becoming a basic expectation. In combination hotels are looking for opportunities to reduce the use of paper and other disposables. Hotels and resorts that can go beyond to implement food waste composting programs can demonstrate waste diverted from the landfill upwards of 40-50%.
- Hotel bath amenities.
Many hotels are making a statement by offering guests custom formulated amenities. Resort companies such as RockResorts have taken it one step further with an all natural, essential oil-based custom formulated product made without preservatives and artificial ingredients packaged in recyclable containers. Others midrange hotel brands are experimenting with bulk dispenser presentations.
- Room Keys.
Contemporary plastic key cards are made from PVC - poly vinyl chloride based plastic which is part of a highly toxic manufacturing process. Many hotel companies are shifting to card options made from paper, wood and bioplastic that are better for the environment, but are equally as durable.
- Cleaning Products.
Recognizing the importance of safer products for guests and employees as well as the natural environment, many hotels have shifted to cleaning products that are made with bio-based oils and other natural cleaners, reducing the use of products with chlorine bleach and petrochemical derivatives. Products have demonstrated performance and are less irritating to guests and employees.
- Local and seasonal produce.
Integrating local products and using fresh, seasonal produce and other ingredients is emerging as a significant focus of hotel food and beverage programs. A shift to more sustainable and healthier cuisine offers travelers unique opportunities to experience a greater connection to the locations they are visiting.
- Alternatives to bottled water.
In support of waste reduction and a higher quality experience, many hotels are moving away from bottled water as the standard and offering unique hydration options for meeting attendees and independent travelers. Look for conveniently located filtered water dispensers, complimentary refillable bottles, and other options designed to offer guests convenient and palatable alternatives to water in plastic bottles.
- Organic menu selections.
Hotels and resorts are integrating more and more selections in menus of all types that integrate organic produce, hormone free meats and dairy, and other natural products that offer guests healthier food selections.
A growing trend with all types of spas is the integration of treatments that feature local and indigenous ingredients, as well as natural and organic products. Similarly, unique, brand and resort signature treatments are emerging to truly offer guests a special connection to the destination.