During a drive to Texas, I stopped for the night in Little Rock, Arkansas. And wound up in a south side hotel behind an outlet mall. The hotel, Tru by Hilton, impressed me so much that it warrants a blog because of its emphasis on sustainability and low carbon footprint.
First off, I’m not trying to advertise for Hilton. I’ve heard Marriot has a similar type brand that also emphasizes low carbon footprint, but I couldn’t find the name of it with a simple internet search. Other hotel brands probably are pursuing sustainable options in a similar way. If you know of any, I would love to hear about them. I believe in voting with my money when it comes to companies and politics. Therefore, anyone that creates situations that encourage less waste, less plastic use, and more energy savings is far more likely to earn my business.
The Tru hotel was quite lovely and modern looking. It did not skimp on the standard amenities with the exception of no swimming pool. Given the rising global temperatures and increased water issues in the south, this seems like a wise decision. On the other hand, they had a pool table in the lobby for socialization. I’ve rarely seen this.
Their degree of sustainability and yet workability was subtle yet everywhere I looked. For instance, the open architecture lobby included a number of work stations for laptop use. Even the comfortable couches and chair areas had plugs within easy reach for those with a modern electronic life style. One wall featured a quick charging station, while another held a water bottle hydration station. I had never seen these in a hotel before. All the newspapers and magazines were tucked into a display area for those that wanted it. No newspaper showed up at my door in the morning as I’ve seen in years past at different places, although my husband tells me this is the new norm for most hotels.
Below is a list of ideas that I saw at Tru and hope other hotels will adopt as their new norms too. These simple changes make sense for any business wanting to improve their ecological footprint.
Hotel Wide Approaches
LED lights used throughout. As you may know, LED lights last longer, provide better illumination, and use less energy.
Only paper plates and cups in the breakfast area. No plastic lids, cups, or straws in sight although the utensils were plastic. In short, most of the breakfast dishes will decompose easily and not harm the environment. In addition, the food offered included healthy options like range-free white and brown eggs, fruit, and greek yogurt.
One ice maker for the whole hotel. On one hand, it sounds like a pain to go down to the lobby for ice. However, having one machine saves on energy and water while still offering the amenity to anyone who wanted it. The plastic containers were kept at the ice machine rather than in individual rooms. This made me wonder if they did not have to wash the containers quite as often.
Room Specific Approaches
No plastic garbage bags in the garbage cans. Rather than plastic bags, each can featured a removable inner hard-plastic liner that could be cleaned. This is a wonderful idea, given the amounts of plastic grocery bags clogging up our water and landfills.
Reuse towel service. This refers to not replacing the towels every day. I’ve seen this service in many hotels but noted the cleaning staffs often replaces them anyway. I hope the Tru system pays more attention to this factor.
Cloth shower curtains without a plastic liner. Many hotels seem to switch these as well. Certainly, their washability is wonderful as compared to replacing plastic curtains when they start to look nasty.
No small bottles of shampoos, lotions, or soaps. Instead of the two-use, wasteful bottles and tiny bricks of soap, the hotel installed large, squeezable tubes of supplies near the sink and in the shower. Each tube looked like it could hold more than fifty doses of shampoo or soap, which means fifty tiny plastic bottles are not entering the landfill.
No box springs. The furniture included platform beds which use a board and a mattress rather than a box spring and a mattress. Many hotel guests may miss the importance of this decision. Beds often must be replaced about every five years, so not having a box spring saves wood, metal, and fabric and decreases the material going into the dump.
Open Closets. What I mean by this is the closet didn’t have walls and a door. A bar in an alcove serves for the hanging space and flowed into the overall design of the room. The hotel didn’t use excess lumber and drywall in building a tiny room in each of the bedrooms. This saves more trees and again provides less waste.
Other Desired Factors
Although I didn’t see this in the Tru by Hilton, other factors hotels should adopt include the use of solar or wind energy where possible. It would reduce their enormous electric bills. In fact, I would love to see more use of solar glass and solar panels in all kinds of businesses so our cities can be a part of the energy solution instead of the global warming crisis.
Given that the electric cars will someday be the norm, a few charging stations in the parking lot seems like a great idea. I saw them at the Little Rock outlet mall, but not at the hotel.
Overall, this hotel made me feel good about staying there because I didn’t feel like I was going against my greenie nature. As the younger generations demand less plastic and waste and more sustainability, I suspect many of these features will become standard in all of the brands. However, Tru by Hilton seems to be leading the way, and I will continue supporting its efforts.