InterContinental Hotels Group launches EVEN, a wellness-focused hotel brand

even hotelsInterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) today announced the US launch of EVEN™ Hotels, its new, wellness-focused hotel brand.

What is a “wellness hotel”?
Over a span of 18 months, IHG closely analyzed emerging trends, conducted studies and talked to over 4,000 customers. The research showed a demand shift to a holistic wellness travel experience, and confirmed an unmet need among customers – staying healthy while they travel.

Keep in mind, these won’t be destination spas or luxury resorts. The operating model for EVEN Hotels will be similar to limited service hotels.


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What will guests find?
Guest rooms will be designed for in-room workouts with multi-functional room amenities (e.g. coat rack that doubles as pull-up bars); a best-in-class gym with equipment and group exercise activities; a “Wellness Wall” resource for fitness tips, walking distances, and equipment rentals; and personalized guest services offering advice on fitness options.

Rooms will feature tech amenities such as high speed Wi-Fi, multimedia ports, easy access to outlets, and ample desk space. Additionally, there will be social areas in the bar and lobby. Rooms will also feature green and allergy-friendly amenities, including: hypoallergenic linens, powerful showerheads, natural lighting, LED dimmers, and antibacterial wipes.
Nutritionally designed menus will offer a particular focus on natural, fresh, fit, and energizing meals. In an open-air café and bar, guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, mini-smoothies, and flavored, filtered water with glass bottles available to fill up and take back to their rooms.

The company is so confident in the brand that they have planned an aggressive $150 million growth plan over the next three years and expects to sign contracts for 100 EVEN Hotels within the next five years.

Look for the first locations to be announced soon and the first hotel to open in early 2013.

Marriott introduces first LEED green hotel prototype

South Carolina is now home to the first Marriott LEED green hotel prototype. The Courtyard Charleston/Summerville will be the hotel’s flagship green property, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The new Courtyard hotel will open in early 2010 and will introduce the first phase of The Parks of Berkley, a community consisting of 5,000 acres and one of the largest planned developments in the Southeastern United States.

Marriott has set its sights on 300 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) hotels by 2015, and all the hotels to come will follow the South Carolina prototype. Last fall, the hotel group announced plans to develop a green hotel prototype for its Courtyard brand that will save roughly $100,000, six months in design time, and up to 25 percent energy and water savings for its owners.

Currently, Marriott has nearly 50 hotels across all brands that are LEED-certified or registered by the USGBC, including:

  • The Inn & Conference Center by Marriott at the University of Maryland, the first LEED-certified hotel in North America
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte in North Carolina, LEED Gold-certified
  • Courtyard Chevy Chase in Maryland, LEED Gold-certified
  • Courtyard Portland City Center in Oregon, LEED Gold-certified
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Baltimore Downtown/Inner Harbor, LEED Gold-certified
  • Atlanta Marriott Gateway, applying for LEED certification upon opening
  • SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport Gateway, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • JW San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles LA Live, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles at LA Live, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe, in Nevada applying for certification
  • TownePlace Suites Baltimore BWI Airport, applying for LEED-Existing Building certification

Denver’s Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast is eco-chic

At Denver’s Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast, the mission statement is clear. Comfort, style and luxury can co-exist with sustainable, eco-friendly practices. And when it comes to green initiatives, Milan Doshi, the b&b’s owner, seems to have thought of everything. The bedding, the paint, the food, the labor – every aspect of the b&b was specifically chosen to be as green as possible.

According to the Denver Post, Doshi bought the hotel in summer of 2008 and immediately began a massive renovation. New floors, from Sustainable Floors in Boulder, were made of compressed leftover wood fibers and installed. Eco-friendly Keesta mattresses, made of recycled metal coils and memory foam infused with green tea extracts, were put in the bedrooms. The walls were covered in eco-friendly low VOC paints. And a heavy wooden table, made of a material called Italian ebony (also made of leftover wood fibers) was selected as the dining room centerpiece. It’s the place where Colorado Allegro coffee is served with a locally-sourced organic breakfast each day (many of the herbs and veggies are pulled from the b&b garden), and where Colorado wines and cheeses are served each evening at happy hour.

Doshi used local products whenever possible and even went so far as to make sure the labor he used was local too. All of the contractors and some of the suppliers he worked with were found within a 10-mile radius. Local craftsmen carved the oak platform beds, and small plastic bottles of toiletries have been replaced with bulk dispensers (which eliminate waste and reduce trash) from Colorado-based Jason Organics.

The green bonanza doesn’t stop there. The linens on the beds are organic cotton; all cleaning products used are 100% natural, biodegradable, and dye-free; paper products are recycled, biodegradable, unbleached and dye-free; only glass drinking cups are used; and the shower heads and toilets have had low-flow adapters installed. The b&b even requires the dry cleaners they work with to recycle their hangers and plastic, and provides free bikes for guest transportation.

Doshi hopes that in the near future, the Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast will be the nation’s first LEED certified bed and breakfast. He’d also like to see the b&b certified as “cradle-to-cradle”, meaning that it creates no pollution and nothing is wasted in its operation. To that end, he has big plans for additional green features, such as a system that could convert used sink water into toilet water.

So, all these green features are great, but if the property doesn’t stack up to it’s less-green counterparts, who would want to stay there? Well luckily, the Queen Anne does measure up. Of the 15 TripAdvisor reviews written since Doshi took over (there are an additional 45 written about the previous incarnation of the b&b), 14 rate it 5-stars. The other one knocked it down to 4-stars. Guests all agree that the staff are helpful and friendly, the rooms are beautiful and comfortable, and the food is fresh and delicious. The location, about a 10-minute walk from downtown, is ideal as well. It seems to me that you really can’t ask for more in a bed and breakfast.

Of course, for a frugal traveler, price is an important consideration too. Some of the more ornate or larger of the 14 rooms, which feature king beds, whirlpool tubs, log fireplaces or cathedral ceilings, go for $175 to $215 per night. But four rooms also cost $145 or $165, and the Oak Room, with it’s deep pedestal tub and original pull-chain commode, is just $135 a night. It’s good to know that you can go green, and still save a little green at the same time.

How green is your hotel?

Not too long ago, any hotel that had one of those “please reuse your towels” signs in the bathroom was considered “green“. But with new hotels upping the ante by adding more features that reduce waste and environmental impact, it takes a lot more than that to truly be green. Here are some of the greenest hotel features to look for in an eco-friendly hotel.

Sheet and Towel Reuse Programs
Literally, this is the least a hotel can do. Asking guests to reuse towels and only changing the linens every few days or between guests no doubt saves water (and money for the hotel) but those positive contributions can easily be negated through other actions. If this all the hotel does, it might just be more frugal than green.

Bulk Toiletry Dispensers
Every time you check into a hotel, you’re provided with small bottles of face wash, body wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner. Even if you’ve only used a minuscule drop, those bottles are tossed out and restocked at the end of your stay. This happens every day, for every room sold, at hotels all around the world. That’s a lot of tiny bottles clogging up landfills. The greener option being implemented in many hotels is to install bulk dispensers (similar to soap dispensers in public restrooms) that dole out small amounts of shampoo, soap and lotion without the extra packaging.

Local and Organic Cooking
Hotel restaurant chefs that use local, fair-trade, sustainable and organic ingredients get a gold-star for for being green. Using local products means that the food travels less to get to the consumer, which in turn means less energy is used and less emissions are added to the air from the planes, trains and trucks that transport food. Organic ingredients are created without the chemicals and pesticides that can harm the surrounding eco-systems, fair-trade products support local farmers, and sustainable foodstuffs are made in a way that doesn’t deplete the natural resources of the area. Hotels that employ these practices in their restaurants are doing something that is not only healthy for their guests, but is healthy for the community and environment as well. The hotel gets even more bonus points if some or all of the produce comes from the hotel’s own garden.

Green Lighting Practices
Replacing fluorescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) means that a hotel will use 75% less energy per year. While hotel guests can do their part by turning off all unnecessary lights when not in the room, some hotels, like the LEED-certified Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco, make this easier by requiring the lights to be activated by key card. The key card, usually attached to the hotel key, must be inserted into a slot in order to turn the lights on. Since you’ll obviously need to take the key and lighting key card with you when you leave the room, there’s no way you can leave the lights on while you’re out.

Green Building Materials
The buildings at Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge in Alaska are constructed from scavenged driftwood, the mattresses and bedding at the Asheville Green Cottage in South Carolina are made from all organic materials, and the walls at Los Manos B&B in Colorado are built of local adobe and the ceilings are insulated with cellulose from old newspapers. All of these properties are using green building practices that help conserve precious resources. Using recycled, organic, scavenged and eco-friendly (like low-emission paints) materials in the building process makes a hotel green from the very beginning.

Reducing Water Usage
The El Monte Sagrado in Taos, New Mexico filters its wastewater into pure drinking water, but there are plenty of other ways hotels can save water that are a littler easier to do. Many green hotels install low-flow regulators in showers and toilet tanks, and some even put in automatic-timer showers that shut off after a certain number of minutes. (You can restart them with the push of a button, but the ticking clock serves as a powerful reminder to make it quick). Hotels in temperate areas have chosen to do their landscaping with tropical plants, which require less water to maintain.

Alternative Power
Many hotels are looking to alternative sources of power; the Alpine House in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gets all of its power from wind turbines. Look for hotels that boast the use of solar and wind power for even part of their energy usage. Hotels that use shade trees and crosswinds to cool rooms, rather than air conditioning, also increase their eco-friendly factor.

Recycling Programs
All the paper used in the Hotel Triton in San Francisco, from napkins in the restaurant to stationary in the guest rooms, is made from recycled materials. Of course, after it’s used, it still gets tossed out. I’ve never seen a recycling bin in any hotel I’ve stayed in, and I highly doubt that housekeeping takes the time to separate recyclables from trash. As a result, plenty of paper, aluminum and plastic that could be recycled ends up getting tossed. Any hotel that offers recycling bins in the room is one step up on the green ladder.

Green Cleaning Products
Using non-toxic, all-natural cleaning products helps reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals that get into the water system and cause pollution. Look for hotels like Denver’s Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast which uses only baking soda to its clean tubs, sinks and toilets.

Other Green Practices
When combined with some of these larger-scale practices, the smallest acts can help make a green hotel even more eco-friendly. All Fairmont hotels offer free parking for hybrid cars, the Vancouver Hilton offers an alternative fueling station, and many hotels will provide free bikes for guests to get around on. Stocking guest rooms with glass drinking cups instead of plastic and relying on natural lighting as much as possible in public areas are two additional practices that make a big difference.

I doubt there’s any hotel that employs every single one of these practices. But it’s a safe bet to say that the more of these strategies a hotel uses, the greener it is. No hotel will have zero impact on the environment, but choosing a hotel that take does its best to use environmentally-friendly policies will help make your travels greener.

The Brando eco-friendly beach resort to open in 2011

Did you know that Marlon Brando owned (and now his estate owns) an entire French Polynesian atoll 35 miles from Tahiti? Did you also know that Brando dreamed of creating an eco-friendly resort on the atoll? Well both are true, and by 2011 Brando’s dream will be a reality, thanks to Richard Bailey, CEO of Tahiti Beachcomber.

Bailey was a longtime friend of Brando’s and had been working with him on the project before Brando’s death in 2004. Bailey owns four InterContinental resorts in Tahiti and will use some of the same sustainable technology used at those resorts to make sure The Brando has as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible. One technology will use a pipe to bring cold water up from the depths of the sea and use it to provide cool air to the rooms – a practice that will have zero environmental impact.

The resort, which will be the only one on the 13-island chain of Tetiaroa that Brando bought in 1965, will feature 47 luxury villas, each with its own plunge pool, plus a spa, fitness center, and a resort pool. Activities at the resort will include snorkeling, scuba diving, and exploring the nearby islands and Tahitian culture. No word on how much a stay at the luxury eco-resort will cost, but no one ever said saving the environment didn’t come with a price.

[via ShermansTravel]