Inside Westin’s new green hotels: element

In today’s hotel landscape, there are two types of green hotels: those that incorporate a few eco-nuggets to act green, and those that are truly, organically green. Westin’s element hotels are the latter.

Designed as a chic, modern competitor to Marriott Residence Inns, element hotels are longer-term properties that boast all of the amenities of an apartment while retaining the comfort and ease of a Westin hotel. Most significatly, the chain is the world’s first to be LEED certified, underscoring Westin’s commitment to energy conservation and environmental impact.

Step into one of the new hotel rooms and the difference is apparent. Every effort is made to recycle materials and minimize waste, from the repurposed wall art to water filters in the kitchen faucets to bulk shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom shower. Recycle bins take precedence over the rubbish and like many chains these days, sheets are only changed when necessary.

Outside of the rooms, the hotels make the extra effort to integrate with the local community and highlight green initiatives. The Hanover, MD element, will soon host a farmer’s market, culling from the regional economy and encouraging residents to buy and cook their own food. In Lexington, MA, cooking classes are hosted in-house by Whole Foods.

The comfort in an element goes far beyond the self satisfaction of helping the environment, however. Perhaps it’s the new, clean furnishings or the lush Heavenly mattresses — but spending time in one of these rooms feels less like a cold, empty hotel and rather like, well, home. Give one a try and you’ll see.

Currently there are five Elements hotels in operation, spread across the country from Lexington, MA to Hanover (Baltimore,) MD to Houston and Irving TX to Las Vegas, Nevada. Eighteen more are scheduled to open up across the country over the next few years, so keep your eyes peeled for one breaking ground near you. You can also check the Starwood site for any location updates.

Room rates vary but are typically around $100 per night.