Back in 2006, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. made a bit of history when it launched the first hotel brand that requires all of its hotels to pursue LEED certification. Element Hotels, which are designed for longer stays and come complete with multi-purpose, modular furniture, flat-screen televisions and fully equipped ENERGY-STAR appliances are not only aesthetically appealing, but are also about as eco-friendly as anyone can get.
Yet, it’s their flagship culinary program in partnership with Whole Foods that makes a stay at Element Lexington truly value-added, especially for health conscious foodies. Along with the hotel’s many delicious amenities, which include a “Rise” breakfast bar, featuring an array of healthy options from hot sandwiches and smoothies to a complimentary “Relax” evening reception (occurring four nights a week) complete with savory appetizers, beer and wine, Element Lexington will offers Whole Foods cooking demonstrations for its guests right on the premises.
Cooking classes will take place twice a month, and will feature five Whole Foods fresh ingredients or less, so guests will be able to easily recreate these meals back in their rooms. After the cooking class is over, attendees then have the opportunity to purchase a “Meal-in-a-Bag” (for $15.00 or less for two servings) to cook on their own, making both shopping and cooking a breeze. Additionally, guests will get to take home co-branded recipe cards and special coupons to be used at the Bedford Whole Foods. For those wanting to shop for themselves, a special shuttle from the hotel will run several times weekly to the grocery, and for folks that don’t have that kind of time, ingredient order forms will be provided to have groceries delivered and even unpacked in guestroom kitchens.
In keeping with all things organic, Element Lexington has also planted a vegetable garden on the property which boasts in-season delights such as Roma tomatoes, basil, cantaloupe and cucumbers. Produce and herbs from the garden will be used for both Rise breakfast menu items and the Relax evening reception along with the weekly outdoor summer BBQ featuring organic meats, garden burgers and soy hotdogs grilled up each Wednesday by the general manager of the hotel.
Yet, the culinary perks don’t stop here. “Restore”, Element’s on-site organic pantry, offers healthy on-the-fly snacks 24 hours a day, and twice a week guests can ride the hotel’s complimentary shuttle to the local farmer’s market in order to pick up their own produce. And, it won’t be difficult to work off all those calories since Element offers an array of complimentary wellness programs including bikes to borrow, running maps, a full-service fitness center and an all-saline, chlorine-free pool.
Clearly the culinary landscape for travelers is forever changing and evolving, with more of us, especially business travelers, seeking healthier, budget-friendly accommodations that allow for independence along with a sound commitment to the environment. With this in mind, it’s nice to see the hotel industry starting to respond.