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SEQUIM, WASH.—Taking the concept of existing-structure “recycling” to heart, Olaf and Charlotte Protze have built a thriving bed and breakfast business out of retired cabooses. The Red Caboose Getaway B&B, located in Sequim, Wash., offers accommodations in six luxuriously renovated train cars that the owners have had transported from various U.S. locations. The couple have three additional cabooses on their three acre property that are currently undergoing renovation. Olaf and Charlotte had long enjoyed visiting B&Bs and eventually fell in love with the idea of staying in renovated railcars. “Most are very rustic,” Olaf says. “I thought we could do better.” Since 2000, the B&B owners have gradually built up their collection of cabooses that all sit on rails.
KELOWNA, B.C.—The Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites continues to charge forward with environmentally responsible initiatives. Not only has the hotel installed an electric vehicle charging station, they have just received LEED Silver Certification for their new environmental wing through the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). LEED is a third-party certification program that rates buildings to the highest environmental performance standards in Canada. “This was quite the process,” says Brenda Rayburn, director of sales and marketing for the Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites. “However, for me, the length of time and validation from construction to criteria completion has affirmed the integrity for LEED Designation.”
PORT ORFORD, ORE.—“It feels like you are on another planet.” That is how Michelle Duarte describes the WildSpring Guest Habitat that she and her husband own along the coast of Oregon in Port Orford. Their small, eco-friendly resort sits on five acres of 100-foot trees and includes five cabins. “The cabins are built like small homes,” Duarte says. “They are not rustic.” Just about everything possible was done to minimize the environmental footprint of the five cabin suites. Duarte’s husband, Dean, who once worked on Hollywood sets in construction, played an integral part in the building of the cabins. Only two trees were removed during construction of the cabins that now have been open for 8.5 years.
AUSTIN, TEXAS—Trash and luxury travel are topics rarely uttered in the same sentence, but the two have been linked as the Four Seasons Hotel Austin undertakes one of the most ambitious waste diversion initiatives in the country—by a hotel or otherwise. On November 30, the hotel launched its new Zero Waste program, a goal two years in the planning. “The amount of passion and dedication that’s already gone into developing this initiative is inspiring,” says general manager Rob Hagelberg. “I’m so proud to be part of a team that’s truly breaking new environmental ground in the state of Texas and beyond.” Made possible due to an innovative partnership with Texas Disposal Systems (TDS)—the only facility in the United States to handle all three components of waste (recycling, composting and landfill)—the new program aims to increase the hotel’s waste diversion rate from less than 10 percent to 90 percent,.
VINELAND, N.J.—Could the Ramada Vineland be the first property its size to receive a monthly electricity bill of $0? Possibly. That is what happened in October at the 102-room property in Vineland, N.J. Time will tell if the Ramada will maintain its “net zero hotel” status but NGL Property Management’s John Scipione, owner of the hotel with his family, believes it is possible. What lowered the hotel’s electricity bill from $15,000/month to $5,000/month over the last couple of years is a $2.6 million, 2,500-solar panel installation behind the property. It sits on three acres of land owned by NGL Property Management. It has been operational since February 2010. Replacing inefficient lighting throughout most of the property with fluorescent and LED lighting has gotten the hotel down to its net zero level. In fact, last month the hotel actually produced more electricity than it needed. “Getting to net zero is a goal we set a couple of years ago,” Scipione says.
COLUMBUS, OHIO—Hilton Hotels & Resorts announces the opening of Hilton Columbus Downtown. The 532-room property is located at 401 North High Street, conveniently positioned in the center of the city’s most admired neighborhoods, including the Short North Arts District and the Arena District. “Today is a significant milestone in the longstanding relationship between Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the City of Columbus and our distinguished business partners involved in this monumental project,” said Major Michael B. Coleman. “Hilton Columbus Downtown will attract millions of new visitors and make Columbus a best-in-class destination for national conventions and events.” The $140 million convention center hotel features a large atrium in the lobby with skylights to give an indoor-outdoor feel.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS—The pioneering Finch Bay Eco Hotel in the Galapagos Islands recently won a travel industry “Oscar,” a World Travel Award, for its commitment to the environment of the Ecuadorian archipelago. The hotel has implemented many measures to make it more eco-friendly. On the isolated Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, creating a green hotel is a challenge for everyone involved: it’s about taking an integral approach to crafting an establishment that is sustainable for the future while generating secure jobs and a healthy working environment for the present. With this concept in mind, the Finch Bay Eco Hotel has led the way in sustainable practices in Puerto Ayora, the main town on the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos.
DALLAS—The LEED Gold pursuing NYLO Dallas South Side hotel, a five-story, 76-room property, opened late this past summer and joins NYLO’s collection of three other eco-friendly hotels—two in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The new urban-loft boutique NYLO is the result of the conversion of the 101-year-old Dallas Coffin Co. Building. During the conversion, every possible part of the original building was incorporated into the hotel. For example, the hotel’s guestrooms feature original concrete floors and exposed ceilings. Celebrating the vibrant local arts community, original artworks from local artists are showcased throughout the property, complementing the hotel’s chic interior design. The hotel is conveniently located just three blocks from the Dallas Convention Center.
FRANKFURT, GERMANY—Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has signed an agreement with Bari Gruppe GmbH & Co. KG to open a new-build Element hotel at Gateway Gardens, Frankfurt`s new city district near the airport. Scheduled to open in 2014, Element Frankfurt Airport marks the European debut of the eco-wise brand. The hotel will be located in a newly developed business district at the doorstep of Europe’s third busiest air travel hub, near the global headquarters of companies such as Lufthansa, Condor and DB Schenker. Launched in 2008, Element has made history as the only major hotel brand to mandate that all properties pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for high-performance buildings. Element Frankfurt Airport’s 133 light-filled studios and one-bedroom suites will be sustainable and designed for comfort.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.—When you have 744 guestrooms in multiple buildings, a spa, restaurants, and three 18-hole golf courses—all on 3,000 acres—maintaining a high level of operational efficiency is always a challenge. At The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., however, the management team has been able to keep up with aging infrastructure thanks to owners who have poured $300 million into the property since 1995. It was in 1995 that renovations began on the historic hotel that was first constructed in 1918. “The main hotel building was built to 1918 energy standards,” says Terry McHale, The Broadmoor’s director of facilities. “It was a huge heat sink. Due to the un-insulated piping in the buildings chases, even during sub-freezing outdoor temperatures, interior temperatures were very difficult to regulate and often much too warm.”
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