Progress is being made. An eco-friendly hotel used to mean a sparse, mildly uncomfortable place to “rough it” and feel superior, but bit by bit, things are changing. By now, you probably know that you don’t have to sacrifice luxury for eco-friendliness when hotel shopping anymore; even the big chains are stepping up with green initiatives. One thing most people do expect to sacrifice though? History.
With all the renovating it takes to make a hotel greener, in many cases, it would be easier to just tear down the old hotel and build a new one in its place — we’re talking replacing lighting, heating, cooling and water systems, and even the materials in the rooms (like sustainable fabrics and ethically-obtained furniture and surfaces). One hotel that greened up and is still standing is Chicago’s historic Talbott Hotel, which sets a great example for accommodations looking to shrink their carbon footprint without starting from square one.
The Talbott Hotel was built in 1927 and includes 16 luxurious floors just steps away from Michigan Avenue in the Gold Coast Historic District of Chicago. It’s surrounded by numerous buildings which popped up just after the Great Chicago Fire. The hotel includes 24 hour room service, a seasonal outdoor cafe, a relaxing lobby bar, complimentary access to a 30,000 square foot Equinox, turn-down service and a morning newspaper. But more importantly, it’s gone green.
In November 2008, the 80+ year old Talbott Hotel became one of the first Green Seal certified hotels in the United States. They call their approach “Sustainability Without Compromise,” and their renovations included “investing in waste management, energy efficiency, water conservation, wastewater management and green procurement procedures.” In their day-to-day operations, not only are they recycling, using biodegradable products, and donating partially-used amenities to charity, but they also purchase wind energy credits to offset their carbon footprint 100 percent.
“As evidenced by our service and other operational areas, we put 110 percent into everything we do,” says General Manager Troy Strand. “We are fully committed to the sustainability of our city and are thrilled we have been recognized for doing so.”
So, if you want to stay in a luxury boutique hotel and know that you’re doing good for the environment — without even feeling it — check in to the Talbott Hotel next time you pass through Chicago. Rates start at $159 (for mid-week August at time of writing) and include a free breakfast if you book online.
For more green hotel practices, check out Katie Hammel’s “How green is your hotel?” from last week.