No matter where in the world I travel, it’s the same thing.
Hotels trumpet how they want guests’ help in conserving water by forgoing changing towels and sheets. I don’t know about you, but when I see those “Save Our Planet” placards in my room, I can’t help but think it’s nothing more than a euphemism for “Save Our Bottom Line” — at least for many hotels I’ve used.
Some hotels are making a real effort to truly conserve energy and water, for reasons beyond the bottom line. Marriott and Hilton, in my opinion, are making significant conservation efforts.
Both Marriott and Hilton have developed detailed and serious “Corporate Responsibility Programs.” They are working with the US Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and with their vendors. They are working to create awareness among their associates and guests to work with them to support a sustainable environment.
We all should applaud those efforts because they go well beyond Marriott and Hilton corporate bottom-line consideration.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water used in the lodging business alone accounts for about 15 percent of the total water used in all commercial and institutional facilities in the US. Hotels’ largest uses of water are for bathrooms, laundry facilities, landscaping and kitchens.
Unlike Marriott and Hilton, there are too many hotels with a conservation policy which doesn’t conserve. While they ask guests to conserve, they continue to waste energy and water despite a plethora of available, easy to implement conservation measures.
If those hotels were serious about sustainability, they’d at least install restrictive flow shower heads, faucet aerators and high efficiency toilets, eliminate drafty windows, install energy efficient lighting, reduce unnecessary lighting in unused public areas, upgrade to low water use laundry facilities, efficient water landscape systems, etc. At many hotels, these measures are coming very slowly, if at all.
It takes a willingness to expend capital to conserve. While their return on investment can be somewhat longer than generally desired by the industry, there is a tangible, measurable financial return for the investment in water and energy conservation. Marriott’s and Hilton’s commitment to reduce their energy and water consumption by 20 percent by the end of the decade illustrates that.
Like many travelers, when I arrive in my hotel room I check the quality and number of towels in the bathroom. At home, I’d speculate most of us don’t change our towels and bed linens daily, so the question arises, “Why do so many hotel guests balk at participating in the ‘linen reuse’ programs?”
For me, it’s because it’s clear many hotels are more intent in adding a new “profit center” than “saving our planet.”
Too many hotels offer the thinnest towels they can, with little water absorbency, no towel racks, just a couple of hooks for four towels or more on which the towels have no chance to dry.
Even if they offered to share their lowered costs from the towel reuse program with a refund, it wouldn’t interest me. Is there anything much worse than having nothing but a cold, damp towel after a hot shower?
It’s about time all hotels have a towel program in which guests can reasonably participate.
I’ve filled out guest evaluation forms, and have spoken to management personnel in Hilton Hotels I stay in frequently in Los Angeles, Montgomery and other cities. I’ve found they are listening to me and other guests. They’ve upgraded their towel reuse program and other conservation initiatives. Speak up with me. The hotels are listening.