New Kid on the Block

Recently certified LEED Silver, Chicago hospitality newcomer Hotel Felix has created a culture of environmental responsibility

Who: Hotel Felix is the premier eco-friendly boutique hotel located in downtown Chicago. The 225-room space in the River North neighborhood is a full-service hotel with king, queen, and double rooms; a restaurant; a spa; and a fitness center. “Happy. Naturally.” is the hotel’s tag line, highlighting its commitment to the environment. The Hotel Felix was designed by Gettys Hospitality Design & Development, and it’s now owned by Oxford Capital Group, LLC and managed by the Bricton Group, Inc. The hotel is the first one in downtown Chicago to receive LEED Silver certification for commercial interiors.

HOTEL FELIX

 

launched
2009

location
Chicago

distinction
The first LEED Silver-certified hotel in Chicago

website
hotelfelixchicago.com

What: Being an eco-friendly destination was a key decision for Hotel Felix. Formerly the Hotel Wacker, which became an SRO in its later years, the Hotel Felix is a 100 percent adaptive reuse of an existing structure. “The eco-responsibility was taken into account in every decision,” general manager George Jordan says. “We asked, ‘How can we make a place that is also good for the Earth?’” Jordan has a personal tagline for the hotel—“Choose Felix, Choose Earth”—which reinforces the hospitality space’s focus.

When: After two years of construction, Hotel Felix opened in April 2009 and has achieved considerable success. Secondary only to servicing each guest is Hotel Felix’s work to reduce its carbon footprint at every level of operation. The actual construction of the hotel was completed using LEED standards, and the current day-to-day operations are also performed with the environment in mind. Hotel Felix works under the USGBC’s Green Seal Standards, helping it attain further LEED-rating points for various operations including sustainable purchasing and the use of green cleaning products. “The day-to-day operations are more costly, but the benefits are intangible,” Jordan says. “We are not a branded hotel, and nothing about us is cookie-cutter.”

Above the lobby, a mezzanine level offers quiet space for visiting. In the guest rooms are organic materials, recycled carpeting, and energy-efficient lighting. And outside, the hotel restored the building's 1920s facade.

Where: Of the more than 100 hotels in the downtown Chicago area to choose from, Hotel Felix is the only one with such a major sustainable distinction, making it a popular choice. The eco-friendly aspect is especially popular among younger generations, most guests being between the ages of 20 and 40. “The younger generation is very plugged into the climate and into changing how businesses conduct business,” Jordan says.

Hotel Felix’s chic lobby offers a fireplace off of the main entrance and an emphasis on natural materials.

Why: “It is the moral thing to do,” Jordan says. “It is a corporate responsibility to operate so that we are not simply taking from the Earth but actually giving back some.” At an early stage in development, it was decided that the hotel would not only be built to reduce its carbon footprint but also operated that way as well. “With good people and good management, we have a place that is also a good,” Jordan says.

How: The environment is considered in every aspect of the hotel. The restaurant changes its menu daily because it purchases whatever organic foods and free-range meats are in supply from local growers, fishermen, and farmers markets. And its tabletops are made of reclaimed wood from farms in Texas. “We recycle everything,” Jordan says. “All the paper products—as well as a compost system for Elate [restaurant]—are recycled.”  The spa uses products not tested on animals and features bamboo flooring and walls made from recycled materials. The laundry facility employs eco-friendly, low-VOC Green Seal-certified products.

In the guest rooms, the long list of sustainable features includes waste-reduction water valves; florescent lighting; carpeting composed of recycled materials; and motion-sensor heating, ventilation, and air-condition-
ing systems. The hotel also has natural southern exposure, which will come in handy on an upcoming green-roof project, and it has reduced its production of paper by using a paperless front-desk system. (Receipts are emailed to guests.) Indeed, from the coffee to the floors to the laundry, every aspect of Hotel Felix is designed to be good for the environment. Organic materials, renewable resources, and people dedicated to green living and working are paving the way for keeping guests happy. Naturally.