Starwood hotels plans to recycle hotel shampoos, soaps

starwood hotelsSome hotel guests take the mini soaps and shampoos from hotel bathrooms, others leave the pint-sized amenities behind – which option is better for the environment?

Did you know your unused hotel toiletries could be put toward recycling efforts to help people in need?

That’s the premise behind Clean the World, a social enterprise working with hotels around the world in an effort to help improve lives and protect our planet.

In an effort to give back, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. inked an agreement with Clean the World on Earth Day to collect and recycle hotel soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels to help fight the global spread of preventable diseases. The deal would include around 500 Starwood hotels in North America (Starwood’s brands include St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and Element).

.”Our North American properties represent more than 176,000 rooms, each of which offer the highest quality soaps and bottled amenities to our guests on a daily basis,” says Denise Coll, president of Starwood Hotels in North America, in a statement. “This partnership amplifies our commitment to corporate social responsibility, and it also should make every member of our Starwood family feel better about the role they play each day in caring for our Earth and the people who inhabit it.”

According to Clean the World, an estimated 1.6 million pounds of hotel soap may be recycled each year through this partnership.

Readers: Will you think twice before swiping your hotel bath amenities now?

Five great cherry blossom hotel packages in Washington DC

cherry blossom hotel packages washington dcThe National Cherry Blossom Festival officially kicks off on March 26, with peak bloom days beginning on March 29. Want to make a road trip to Washington, DC? Here’s a list of five great hotels offering Cherry Blossom-themed packages. For more Cherry Blossom fun, stay tuned later this week for our suggestions on where to eat and play.

Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
We’re not talking hippies when we mention this famed hotel’s “Flower Power” package. From now until June 6, guests can enjoy special spring events like the White House Easter Egg Roll, Spring Garden Tours, Washington Nationals baseball games and the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a special offer that includes an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s most luxurious deluxe guestrooms, a round of flower-themed cocktails for two and complimentary breakfast for two in Café Promenade the next morning. As part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Cherry Picks Program, Café Promenade will also serve cherry-inspired cuisine throughout the festival. In town tomorrow? Check out the Festival’s annual Pink Tie Party on Wednesday, March 23. Room rates for the Flower Power package range from $219 to $279 per night (excluding taxes and fees).The W
Enjoy views without the crowds while enjoying hand-crafted cocktails at the trendy P.O.V rooftop lounge, overlooking the White House and the National Mall. The hotel’s Cherry Blossom Package includes overnight accommodations, a bottle of champagne upon arrival; two handcrafted cocktails at P.O.V and a Cracking Cherry Pie from Jean-George Vongerichten’s J&G Steakhouse at W, served for two on the rooftop. This package is available from Thursday – Sunday, March 17-April 30, with code LAPKG5. Rates start at $319.

The Willard Intercontinental
This historic hotel is one of our very favorites. Book their Very Cherry Willard Package and receive a special cherry amenity, $50 food and beverage credit, two tickets on the Tourmobile, and overnight valet parking. This package reflects savings of $150 and is available for $399 on weekends only. Can’t make it overnight? Enjoy the daily Cherry Blossom Tea in the hotel’s floral-laden Peacock Alley is offered daily from March 21 through April 10. Tea is accompanied by the soothing sounds of Koto with its player in traditional Japanese Kimono. The cost? $39 per person, or $49 including a glass of Champagne or Specialty Cherry Cocktail.

Liaison Capitol Hill

Stay in the heart of the nation’s most powerful city with this special cherry blossom package, offering overnight accommodations, two $10 metro passes, a live cherry branch to take home, artisan handmade chocolates and a bag of goodies from in-house restaurant Art and Soul to enjoy picnic-style, perhaps by the tidal basin? The package starts at $199 per night through April 30.

The Fairmont
You’re just a short stroll away from Georgetown when you stay at The Fairmont Washington. Book their special Cherry Blossom package for an overnight stay, a box of Cherry Blossom note cards by famed DC photographer Jake McGuire and complimentary valet parking. Rates start at $219 through April 15.

[Flickr via JoshBerglund19]

Starwood Preferred Guest program offers FaceTime customer support

As a kid, I remember playing with a video phone at the local phone store – and thinking how cool it would be if we all had access to video phones in the future. Well, the future came, and along with a total lack of jet packs, video phones never really took off.

Apple has managed to change that with their FaceTime application, and while it is by no means the first video calling application, it is the first to become mainstream. Thanks to its easy to use interface, lack of need for configuring settings, and massive install base, FaceTime is a huge hit.

And with that huge hit, comes new ways to use the service. One of the first customer support applications in the travel industry comes from Starwood Preferred Guest, the loyalty program for Starwood hotels.

On Twitter this morning, an SPG rep announced that they will be offering live chat sessions with their customers using FaceTime. The actual practical applications are relatively limited, but some customers may prefer to talk to a rep face to face instead of using email or phone. What do you think? Would you use a FaceTime chat session instead of picking up the phone, or do you think this is more of a gimmick designed to make them look cool?

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Starwood to open seven hotels in NYC this year

New York City is getting a few new addresses.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced its plans to open seven more hotels in New York City, upping the hotel’s portfolio by 50 percent in the Big Apple. Starwood currently operates 12 hotels in New York City across six of its nine brands, and expects to have 18 properties open in the city by year’s end, including the local debut of the Aloft and Element brands.

From Starwood:

“While nearly 80% of our future hotel pipeline is outside of the United States, we have more hotels in New York City than any city in the world and we will open more hotels right here in our backyard than anywhere else, which speaks to New York’s enduring stature as the most global gateway city in the world,” says Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen.

Coming soon: Aloft hotels in Harlem and Brooklyn and Starwood’s first Element hotel in Times Square.

In addition to the new brands, Starwood’s Sheraton hotels is making a splash in the big city. Of the seven hotels opening, Sheraton will debut two New York hotels including the Sheraton Brooklyn New York Hotel the Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel. Starwood’s most popular brand, the W, continues to operate four hotels in NYC including its landmark W New York and W New York-Times Square.

Starwood’s scavenger hunt rewards players with free hotel nights

You know the game – you love the game – you win the game, especially if it means going home with free travel perks! Scavenger hunts have been used for team building exercises, corporate functions and the bachelorette-parties-gone-bad, but this time, the scavenger hunts takes on a new prize: free nights at a Starwood hotel.

That’s right – Starwood Hotels is hosting a social media scavenger hunt that awards winners with free weekend nights at any Starwood hotel around the world. The best part? There are hundreds of prizes to give away.

The SPG(R) “Passport to Free Weekends” contest kicks off May 12 and will award a total of 200 free nights to 100 winners over the course of 10 business days. The hotel will offer clues via its Facebook and Twitter accounts, and each clue will send followers to one of 920 Starwood hotels around the world. That’s right – you could wind up in Dallas, or your friends in Dubai might win the scavenger hunt.

The winning location will rotate each day and each day, a different Starwood brand will be the object of the scavenger’s affection (Starwood currently has nine brands including W Hotels, Westin, Aloft and Sheraton). When the participant determines the identity of the designated hotel, he or she will approach the front desk to claim their prize. The first 10 winners will get their “passport” photo taken, which will then be posted on SPG’s Facebook and Twitter pages for winners to enjoy fifteen minutes of fame.

To participate in the contest and receive the clues, you must friend Starwood Preferred Guest on Facebook and follow @SPGInsider on Twitter. To learn more about contest terms and conditions, click here.