Most of our efforts will really never be seen by guests,” said Annika Jackson, vice president/managing director of Enchantment Resort in Sedona. One of three hotels (the other two are Sedona Rouge and Wyndham Sedona) certified “Green” by the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association (AzHLA), Enchantment is part of an effort to create sustainably greener Arizona hotels.
“A lot of what we do is behind the scenes,” agreed Mark Gray, western regional VP, resort operations for Wyndham Vacation Ownership. Green cleaning, recycled plastics, green laundry, CFL light bulbs, low flow faucets, toilets and showers are just some features his guests may not be aware of unless they ask.
“Deciding to go green was just the right thing to do,” said Jackson, “particularly in the pristine environment of Sedona, which we believe we are mandated to protect.” Enchantment has adopted many green initiatives, including hiring its own recycling specialist. The property has always owned its own water treatment plant, saving “millions of gallons of fresh water,” over the years.
The initiative is “something that our state and members have needed for a long time,”
said Kristen Jarnajin, AzHLA’s VP of communications. “There were no standards statewide or minimum requirements,” she said. Some properties practice green washing, or claim- ing to be green, “but they’re really not doing anything,” Jarnajin explained.
To earn green certification, a hotel or lodging must adhere to guidelines from the Association’s online workbook. Properties earn points for things like energy conservation, pollution control, and education. “Properties download the workbook and see what they can do,” said Jackson. Green lodging providers receive listings in the Official Arizona Visitor’s Guide, preferred status with companies looking for hotels practicing Corporate Responsibility, and approved use of AzHLA’s Certified Green logo.
Soft launched in January 2010, AzHLA wanted 10 properties certified before they launched it to the public. “We were delayed in the summer because of SB1070,” said Jackson about concerns that reactions of many tourists toward Arizona’s strict immigration law would overshadow the Association’s program. Getting the first 10 on board was easy, how- ever, given that many of the requirements are things that hotels were already doing. There are now 20 green properties in the state, “and we have at least three more applications,” Jackson said.
“We took a look at things and asked if we were doing enough,” said Daniel Carrillo, sales and catering manger of Sedona Rouge. They provide recycling for their guests and offer water stations instead of bottled water. They are working with the Hummingbird Society, “to attract hummingbirds as they migrate through Sedona,” Carillo said. The resort features Native, Southwest, Andalusian, and Indonesian motifs for an “eclectic, exotic effect,” accordng to Rouge Spa Manager, Greg Retegan.
Unique among states awarding the designation, Arizona lodgers must demonstrate how they convey a “sense of place,” by providing a unique Arizona, or local, experience to guests. That way, “it doesn’t feel like they are staying in another Hilton anywhere else,” explained Jackson. This includes “historic photographs, indigenously influenced spa treatments, or local artists featured in guest rooms” – as if the soaring natural rock formations around Sedona aren’t enough to tell tourists they aren’t in Kansas anymore.
“Everyone has commented that we are another vortex in Sedona,” explained Carrillo, speaking of the hotel’s medicine wheel – a spiral pattern of red-orange rocks in the property’s garden-to-be. “We have a very good center, or heart, to our hotel. This is just a way to help keep Sedona green.”
Popular at Enchantment are tours of the spa chef’s organic herb garden, completely sustained by composting. Wyndham guests can attend ecology lectures and create native and location specific crafts in the Activity Center. Locally inspired spa treatments and products are available at each of the hotels.
Increased profits aren’t always an out- come of going green. Despite any added expense, though, these hotels reap benefits in greater guest and staff satisfaction. Besides, “our company understands that our business activities impact the earth,” said Gray. Carillo said it is a matter of his company’s “belief and our heart.” And, when our planet’s health is at stake, according to Jackson, going green is “certainly not too much trouble.” FBN