Boston Logan airport going green – runways included

Usually, when people think about “green initiatives”, they think recycled toilet paper and dimmed lighting. At Boston Logan, they are taking an entirely new approach – starting with their newest runway repaving.

Instead of repaving the runway with the common asphalt mix, Logan is using a European developed warm-mix covering. The mix is heated at much lower temperatures, and the environmental impact is reduced by 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide, and a whopping 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

As with most new airport technologies, this one had to pass an FAA testing procedure before getting the green light.

In addition to its newest asphalt, the airport operator is also investing heavily in replacing diesel powered baggage vehicles with electric versions. The airport granted Delta Airlines a $3 million loan to invest in the carts and baggage belt trucks. The new electric vehicles will be used at Terminal A – the world’s first LEED certified airport terminal.

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.

Gadling hotel review – Hotel Arista, Naperville, IL

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”.

Geek heaven

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.

Hotel amenities

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.

In-room comfort

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.

Final thoughts

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

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.

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.