As gb&d has chronicled arduously, a sea change is occurring among commercial industries. It has become evident that as climate data and analysis travel from the laboratory to major media and the general public, companies everywhere, both large and small, are making swift revisions to their traditional business methodologies to better adjust to the urgent demand for environmental sustainability. Steadfast in this ecological evolution has been the luxury hotel wing of the hospitality industry. Here, Vincent Caruso explores exactly how acclaimed lodgings across the globe benefit by adopting a sustainability ethos.
Glad Hotel Yeouido
Yeouido, South Korea
The South Korean island of Yeouido serves as Seoul’s central business hub. Acting as a home to the city’s tech and finance sectors, the isle is predominately decorated with imposing modernist glass skyscrapers. More recently, a growing representation of artistically inclined, younger Koreans have begun to emerge incrementally, fostering trendy boutique stores and modest galleries. The structural façade that fronts GLAD Hotel Yeouido, however, doesn’t quite fit into either category. GLAD Hotel stands out from the architectural conformity of its peers, projecting instead a striking, brick-laden Brutalist minimalism that is inviting and awe-inspiring in equal doses. The Glad Hotel Yeouido is one of the acclaimed Design Hotels firm’s more recently added members, and it matches their reputation as both stylistically preeminent and environmentally committed—so much so that the interior design is themed to represent the urban landscape outside the walls of the hotel. The lavish application of locally sourced brick on the hotel’s façade travels into the interior and is complemented by street signs offering directions throughout the hotel to all 319 rooms.
Since Design Hotels’ founding, the company has always championed green building, and this passion is reflected in the GLAD Hotel Yeouido’s mechanical operations. In addition to opting for renewable energies such as solar and geothermal, the hotel makes optimal use of a gas heating pump system that reduces consumption substantially. Likewise, materials used in the bedding of all rooms are natural and high-quality, enhancing guest health and comfort, ensuring that “glad” will be imprinted on the minds of each overnight vacationer.
Santa monica, california
It has long been common knowledge that, in terms of profiling premier beach towns in the US, Santa Monica ranks among the crème de la crème. And, environmentally speaking, the oceanside vacation hub’s hospitality sector has done much to preserve its status as well as its ecosystem, for its business relies heavily upon both. Since 2007, for example, 83 businesses received their green certificate from the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) as part of organization’s signature Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program. This program is one of many and, as Santa Monica has found, where potential for distinction and recognition exists, the competition for such an award grows.
Motors, Shore has introduced a new intelligent energy storage system that will reduce demand to half its original figure and include a DC EV fast charging station. Naturally, when an EV is plugged into a charging station, electricity consumption spikes. But Shore Hotel’s exciting new features have a novel way of fixing that. The storage system defangs these potential spikes “through counteracting the peaks and valleys of a building’s variable energy use by discharging from and charging up its batteries at key moments,” explains JonFarzam, Shore Hotel vice president. “This flattens the spikes in power usage, which reduces our demand charges by up to 50%.” It’s purely unique initiative that treads uncharted territory in the world of green energy, rendering the hotel as the first in the country to couple its energy storage system with DC EV charging.
Shore Hotel’s environmental contributions to promoting sustainability have been extraordinary, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed. The hotel has earned glowing press in their community and elsewhere, and they have collected numerous awards for their efforts. The hotel obtained the coveted LEED Gold certification and from Santa Monica’s Office of Environment & Sustainability they were awarded the SQA Grand Prize, a distinction that recognizes significant achievements in “sustainable economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the environment.” Evidenced by their AAA Four Diamond Rating, the sentiment that has been echoed by the affirmation of consistent customer satisfaction, reminding one that investment in the environment is returned by human happiness.
Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers
Ho chi minh city, vietnam
The colossal 485-room Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers exists enveloped in the same exotic brand of luxury it offers its guests. The multiplex downtown districts constituting Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) enjoy the serenity of rivers and canals that weave through the metropolis, the superabundant company of rows of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine, the luminous flash of alluring nightlife oases, and the steady pulse of passing crowds basking in their colorful surroundings. Local monuments such as The Reunification Palace, the Sai- gon Opera House, and Ben Thanh Market are among the distinguished sites within the Sheraton’s proximity.
However, while the attractions of Ho Chi Minh City could surely keep one dizzying- ly busy for the stretch of a week or more, the luxuries under Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers’ own roof are of equal caliber and like variety. It’s collected considerable accolades for its event spaces (the Grand Ballroom is among the largest and most expertly run in the city), and its pool, spa, and fitness center are all state-of-the-art. The warm, traditional Vietnamese ambience permeates the guest bedrooms with an air of royalty, and its assortment of fine dining and cocktail bars are an exclusive microcosm for the hotel’s host city.
Perhaps the natural beauty one experiences at the hotel is its finest offering. Be it reveling in the fresh air at the rooftop wine bar or simply admiring the view of Saigon River or the city itself, it leaves one with the impression that this environment is deserving of preservation. This is why operations at the Sheraton Saigon have been forged with sustainability as the chief governing priority. Most recently, the Sheraton has reduced oil consumption by more than 55% and electrical consumption by 20%. Through the simple tasks of installing a new regulator, adjusting toilet flush, water consumption by 19%, and recycling FCU condensate, water consumption shrunk by 19%, achieving the Vietnam Discharge Grade A standard.
“Different by Design” is the mantra that instructs the Aloft Hotels ethos. It’s a philosophy that has helped the very first Aloft Atlanta, the state of Georgia’s first Aloft hotel, stand out amongst the plethora of flashy nightlife hotspots and grandiose fortune 500 companies that neighbor it in its perpetually buzzing downtown quarters. From the outside, Aloft Atlanta looks as if it could function as either one, or both. On the inside, it seemingly offers all the same indulgences to be found outside through the streets of Atlanta’s vivacious downtown turf. With its Re:mix Lounge and WXYZ cocktail lounges, the 24-hour-running Re:charge gym and Re:fuel eatery, as well as the outdoor Splash pool, a visitor’s Atlanta to-do list could quite sufficiently comprise a sequence of cocktail menus and mandated safety notices.
The most positively “Different by Design” amenity offered by Aloft Hotels, however, is the new SPG Keyless feature. Aloft guests have the option of downloading SPG smart phone app and instead registering a digital room key for the course of their stay. The digital key works similar to the more prevalent plastic key card, except instead of sliding the card into a designated slot you simply tap your cellular device on the lock, and wait for the little green light to signal you in. “SPG Keyless is an evolution of Aloft’s Smart Check-In, which we began piloting back in 2008,” says Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of Starwood’s Specialty Select Brands (Aloft parent company). “Plus, when we learned that statistically there are over 30,000 plastic keycards manufactured for most hotels every year, we saw how this could not only make a technological advancement but an environmental breakthrough as well.”
In addition to the revolutionary SPG Keyless software, the company has begun to look in every nook and cranny for more novel ways to eliminate waste and promote sustainability. For instance, in-shower pumps have replaced plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotel bathrooms. Likewise, Aloft Atlanta has recently instituted an incentive-based policy that rewards guests for making eco-friendly choices. “We also offer Starwood’s ‘Make a Green Choice’ program, that encourages guests to make eco-conscious choices,” adds McGuinness. “By offering green choices without compromising a guest’s comfort, we make our eco initiatives accessible, which in turn makes the guest more likely to participate,” illustrating once again that convenience is a consequence of, not a sacrifice for, a healthy ecosystem.