“Greening Up”

David Gabri President and CEO, Associated Luxury Hotels International
By David Gabri
President and CEO, Associated Luxury Hotels International

Remember when any meeting reference to “Green” meant money or profits? Well, times have changed. The hot topic across our nation and around the world, that won’t be going away, is about offering environmentally friendly products and solutions. So how does this relate to the meetings and incentive travel arenas, and the hotels and resorts that serve as their headquarters?

Quite well, actually. There is a growing awareness and desire among planners and hotel operators to be conscious of unnecessary waste, while still delivering a “WOW” with creative program solutions. This emerging dialog crosses all political and geographical boundaries, and seems to have become an issue of desire and responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, and for future generations.

We are seeing greater focus and a growing market for items related to “Green Meetings.” Corporations and associations alike are showing corporate awareness and responsibility by participating in various efforts that are friendly to the environment. The hospitality sector has led this trend for more than a decade with innovative initiatives that can save money and conserve resources. Now the concept is becoming more important in discussions during the selection of a venue/site for a meeting or program, as some planners want to support their company’s or association’s values with their choice of venue.

Thus, many resorts and hotels, including a large number of ALHI members, have been and are on the cutting edge in providing environmentally friendly facilities and services for their communities, eco-conscious clients, and as part of their property and corporate culture. Here are just a few examples from ALHI’s worldwide portfolio:

• Las Vegas: ARIA Resort & Casino, which opened in CityCenter in 2009, was designed with innovative Green technologies. In fact, the CityCenter multi-use project is one of the world’s largest environmentally sustainable communities.

Chicago: InterContinental Chicago has a significant “Green” focus, which includes offering a “Green Celebration Dining Package” and “Green Meeting Breaks” for groups. The hotel has been a host hotel for the U.S. Green Building Council conference.

Washington, DC: The Willard InterContinental has a “Social Responsibility” plan, which focuses on increasing the percentage of renewable wind electricity garnered by the hotel, among other initiatives.

Houston: The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa uses organic fertilizers; protects and enhances its natural areas to provide wildlife habitats; and protects its land against water and wind erosion.

Miami: The Florida Green Lodging Program recognized the InterContinental Miami as “Green Certified” for its water efficiency, energy efficiency and waste reduction.

Tucson: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort uses eco-friendly cleaning products, utilizes minimal amounts of water in the laundry department through proactive planning, and implements seasonal menus that use local suppliers (and thus reduces transportation costs).

Lake Tahoe: The Resort at Squaw Creek has a program to conserve water and decrease use of detergents. The resort’s greenskeeping practices are so rigorous the resort received the prestigious Audubon International Certification.

Nashville: Gaylord Opryland® Resort & Convention Center has an Energy Conservation Program that includes setting “best practices” temperature controls within each department; and controlling lighting and the temperature in meeting rooms based on the occupied room schedule.

San Francisco: InterContinental Mark Hopkins always uses linens, china and silverware for meals (i.e. no paper napkins, Styrofoam or plastic) to reduce waste. Scrap food is recycled into pig food for local farms.

Boston: Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center launched a “Seaport Saves” program that promotes everything from energy management to public transportation incentives for employees. The hotel even has Allergy-Friendly rooms, and received the Boston Green Business Award for its highly effective programs.

It is amazing to learn of all of the initiatives being undertaken when one simply asks the “Green” question!

David Gabri is president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), which has the national sales responsibilities to the meetings and incentive industries for its distinctive portfolio of over 130 Four- and Five-Diamond hotels and resorts worldwide which specialize in meetings and conventions. Contact your nearest ALHI National Sales Office, call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-2544, or visit www.alhi.com.