I just returned from a vacation to Disneyland, and while we were in Anaheim we stayed at a hotel owned by a large, well-known chain. I was curious about this corporate hotel’s eco-friendly initiatives – both from a personal standpoint and professionally, as I do public relations work for the Antlers at Vail. The Green Star-rated Antlers has been committed to environmentally conscious practices long before ‘green’ was cool, and was named the 2009 ‘Green Business of the Year’ by the Vail Valley Partnership Success Awards.
Fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an Important Undercover Corporate Spy, I donned my disguise (in this case, dark glasses and Mickey Mouse ears) and informally conducted my own eco-research. The first green evidence I discovered in our hotel room was a typical card in the bathroom affirming the hotel’s dedication to saving water; it instructed us to re-hang towels if we wanted to reuse them. Another card by the bed advised us that the hotel only changes sheets every third day, unless we set the card on the pillow indicating that we wanted the sheets changed. I also discovered Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) in some of the light fixtures and a low-consumption toilet (which, unfortunately, catapulted water out of the bowl when it flushed – but that’s another story) in the bathroom. In seeming conflict with the alleged dedication to water saving, the shower was fitted with a regular flow showerhead and I noticed that housekeeping ran the dishwasher when they cleaned our room even though it only contained four items.
At the hotel’s breakfast buffet, Styrofoam was in use everywhere – dishes, bowls and cups. Boy, was it tough to drink coffee from a Styrofoam cup knowing the dangers – but such is the depth of my caffeine addiction. There were no recycling bins in the breakfast area, and I didn’t see any in the room, lobby or public areas; in fact, each afternoon the housekeepers stacked up so many huge bags of trash along one of the outdoor paths we had to walk a different route.
Like the Wendy’s commercial says, “You know when it’s real.” If you’re trying to live in a more environmentally conscious way, your radar can pretty quickly pick up when a business is mainly adopting eco-friendly practices that happen to save money. Visiting this chain hotel made me even prouder of the Antlers’ authentic and long-standing green practices, because many of its eco-friendly programs actually cost the company money and additional staff time.
For instance, the Antlers recycles 15 tons of waste annually. Along with an in-office recycling system, the property makes it easy for guests to recycle by putting different colored trash bags in the rooms for glass, plastic and aluminum recyclables as well as collection bins on each floor of the hotel. Since 1988, the Antlers staff has adopted a two-mile stretch along the I-70 corridor near the top of Vail Pass, volunteering their time to pick up trash from the area.
The Antlers Vail covers the entire cost of bus passes for its employees who opt to take the bus rather than driving to work. The company also made a significant capital investment in environmentally friendly in-house laundry equipment in 2007. The ozone washing machine allows the hotel to use cooler water temperatures and save energy, while the phosphate-free detergent is biodegradable and far less polluting than typical phosphoric acid-based cleaning products.
If you’d like to know more about the Antlers green programs, click here. Meanwhile, rest assured that I’ll continue to be ever watchful and vigilant in my corporate eco-espionage; my new secret code name is Antlers Agent 99.
Eliza Cross, WordenGroup Public Relations
P.S. Leave a comment if you’re old enough to remember which television show featured Agent 99!