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The Sustainable Way: Many Paths for Hotels, Resorts

By Jack Chang | 2 min

The first step on the sustainability journey for many hotels and resorts often starts with the straw. Where the journey goes from there is as diverse as the properties themselves.

Worldwide hotel chains with significant California properties such as Marriott and Accor set the sustainability stage with zero single-use plastic policies, offering paper straws to diners only upon request and removing plastic toiletry items and cups and bottles from rooms.

Many hotels and resorts also repurpose excess food from their kitchens by sending it to neighborhood food banks. The Presidio Lodge and Inn in San Francisco as well as Cavallo Point in Sausalito have revamped their properties, making the energy efficiency, habitat and other physical improvements to earn Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville is one of seven LEED Platinum Certified (the highest standard for environmental design) hotels in the United States, and one of 28 in the world.

Sprawling resorts such as the 87-acre Ranch at Laguna Beach or the 102-acre Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes have invested in technology to repurpose waste to use on their grounds. The Ranch at Laguna Beach has installed a new water system that sends reclaimed water to irrigate its golf facilities as well as a glass-bottle crusher that turns glass bottles into sand to fill golf course bunkers, make pavement repairs and help filtration in the resort’s pool.

Terranea educates guests about the conservation practices used to protect its expansive grounds and also donates tons of food and toiletries every year to social service agencies around Southern California. Resorts such as Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur even generate much or all of their own electricity through on-site solar panels.

These strategies not only have done a lot of environmental and social good, they help attract a segment of travelers who base their travel planning decisions around sustainability concerns.

“It may not be a decision-making factor ... but if it comes between two products and the guest is trying to decide, it’s definitely an influencer,” Terry Haney, managing director of the Presidio Lodge and Inn, said at a Hotel Council of San Francisco conference. “I hear it over and over again in our customer surveys how impressed they are with our sustainability efforts.”


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