The Hotel Arista describes itself as “eco-chic”, and after my first stay here, I’ve got to agree with that description. The hotel is located in the western Chicago suburb of Naperville. About 45 minutes from downtown Chicago, the hotel is easy to reach as it is right off the expressway.
How the Hotel Arista does “green”
The Hotel Arista is the first LEED certified hotel in Illinois. Being LEED certified means the hotel underwent a extensive “green audit” by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Thankfully, staying in a “green hotel” does not mean you need to sleep on hay and brush your teeth with ash and salt. In fact, the majority of green efforts at the Hotel Arista were very well implemented, and some of them actually made my stay even more enjoyable.
The green initiatives are twofold – the majority of them are behind the scenes, while others are out in the open.
In the public spaces, almost all lighting is LED, greatly reducing energy usage. Room climate control is only activated when a guest checks in, which means the system no longer needs to heat empty rooms. The hotel restaurant recycles all its cooking oil, and the chef grows his own herbs in a garden in front of the hotel.
In the rooms, wall control panels instantly control all the lights – these panels are next to the door, in the bedroom and next to the bed. With one push of a button, all the lights are dimmed. All rooms feature large floor to ceiling windows, greatly reducing the need for additional lighting. In addition to this, some of these windows can be opened, allowing fresh air into the room.
The toilet is a dual flush model, all bathroom paper products are partly recycled and the sinks feature low flow faucets.
To me, one of the most impressive methods of recycling is that the hotel supplies all its left over newspapers and magazines to a local shelter as bedding for the animals and their unused in-room amenities to a local homeless shelter, along with sheets, table linens and other items. Newspapers are delivered in a cloth bag, hung from the door each morning, instead of plastic liners.
All these initiatives mean the Hotel Arista uses 31% less water, and 21% less energy than a comparable property, and as I mentioned earlier – you never get the feeling you are being forced to be “green”.
The Hotel Arista takes in-room technology to a whole new level – and was one of the best equipped hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. My room was equipped with 2 42″ flat panel HD TV’s, one of which offered an easy access connection panel.
The TV channel lineup was equally impressive – offering a huge lineup of HD channels, including multiple premium movie channels. Additional features on the TV included a full hotel amenity guide, bill preview and room service menu.
A third TV is in the bathroom – behind the mirror. A splashproof remote control means you can fill the tub and watch the news.
The desk is equipped with a Cisco 7875 color IP touch screen telephone. The phone was updated with software offering instant access to maps, news, weather, voicemail-to-email interface and a full interactive hotel guide. The bedroom has a cordless IP phone.
Hidden behind the desk was an Ethernet cable offering access to the hotel broadband service. Speeds during my test were excellent – almost 30 mbps down and 25 mbps up. Wireless access is also offered, with a good solid signal and great speeds. The Ethernet cable could do with a label or some other way to let guests know where to find it.
There were no outlets above the desk, so I had to use the only spare outlet under the desk and use my own splitter to charge my phone and power my laptop.
The hotel offers a great lineup of extras for in your room – during your stay (or even before you arrive), you can request a Wii, Wii Fit, a DVD player and a variety of chargers and cables. This is the first time I’ve actually seen Blackberry chargers available for guests.
The Wii in your room is fantastic if you don’t plan to venture outside (and during my stay, the weather kept me indoors). My Wii was delivered in a Nintendo carrying bag, and came with Wii Sports and the Wii fit platform.
Thanks to the front panel hookup, I was up and running in about 5 minutes. There is something oddly cool about playing Wii Sports in a large room with floor to ceiling windows on the 12th floor.
The hotel has several on-property amenities, including an in-room spa and an award winning restaurant. A fitness center offers most of the equipment you’d expect from a good hotel health club, including showers and lockers. In addition to this, the staff can deliver fitness equipment to your room.
The hotel lobby is well designed, and features a discrete check-in desk and spacious “living room” with complimentary coffee and newspapers. Hotel staff were always around willing to help with doors and luggage.
To be comfortable in my room, I only need a couple of things – a good bed, decent climate control and an easy to set alarm clock. The room provided two out of three. Like many hotels, the Arista installed the iHome iPod alarm clock, but since these are probably one of the most complicated to program, I opted to set an alarm on the Cisco IP phone (which was much easier to program).
Climate control in the room was very good – each room had its own thermostat. Guests who hate dry air can request a humidifier.
The bed was great, and the modern look and feel of the hotel meant I got a nice comforter instead of the horrible hospital style sheets found in other hotels.
Next to the bed is a control panel for turning off all the lights, and switching to nightlight mode, and on each side of the bed is a flexible nightlight. With one push of a button, all the lights dim and your nightlights can be turned on.
The minibar had a limited selection of beverages, and several snacks. Prices were surprisingly decent at just $4 for soda and $6 for most alcoholic beverages. Next to the fridge is a small snack tray and coffee maker. The hotel refers to its minibar as the “Nosh Box”, and items are located in the minibar, in the bathroom (bath salts) and next to the bed (face mask, sleep aid, intimacy kit).
Unlike most hotels, the minibar at the Hotel Arista can be designed to fit your personal needs. You can request more (or less) of products, add your own personal favorites, or request your own cocktail kit.
The bathroom in my room featured a stand-alone tub and a walk-in shower. Bathroom amenities are from the Gilchrist & Soames brand, and offered everything from a shaving kit to mouthwash. In other “green hotels”, I’ve noticed a trend towards wall mounted dispensers, but I still prefer good old tubes and bottles, so I was happy to see the Arista stick to these.
One of the more convenient features in the bathroom is floor lighting – dim light shows your way to the toilet for those middle of the night trips to relive yourself.
The Naperville area
Opening a luxury hotel in Naperville may have some people scratching their heads – the location is not exactly conveniently located anywhere exciting. That said – there is something to be said for staying away from the city.
At just 45 minutes from downtown Chicago, it is perfect for a romantic getaway.
For just $289, you get a 2 room king suite, Champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, a couples in-room massage and breakfast for two plus early arrival/late departure. That is at least $300 cheaper than a similar package in a downtown luxury hotel.
Within 10 minutes from the hotel are the Aurora premium outlets, where you can treat your significant other to something from the Coach (or Sony) store. Just down the road from the hotel is the Fox Valley mall, with over 180 stores.
And finally, starting at just $309, you can combine your stay with a round of golf at a local course.
I’ll be going back to this hotel – even though it is within driving distance of where I live, it offers the kind of peace and quiet in a luxury surrounding we all need every now and then.
Their romance package is extremely well priced, and any couples in the area should seriously consider saying “I love you” in the luxury of their own two room suite.
The green features are perfectly balanced – you know they are there, but you don’t feel they get in the way. There is ample free parking around the hotel (including plenty of street parking).
You’ll find the Hotel Arista at 2139 CityGate Lane in Naperville. Their web site is at www.hotelarista.com.