That mint on my pillow had better be fair-trade certified! (Day 134)…

alt hotel

There’s a bit of Eloise in me — I love hotels. Well, actually, I love really swanky hotels. At the risk of sounding like the most over-privileged snob this side of Paris Hilton (OK, too late), the truth is that when I’m stuck in a drab, cookie-cutter hotel room with fluorescent lights, a colour scheme involving a lot of muted coral and puce and a token piece of crappy art on the otherwise sparse walls, I start to panic. In fact, I’d rather be in a grungy one-star hostel on the wrong side of the tracks because then at least it’s not trying to be anything but a grungy one-star hostel on the wrong side of the tracks. There’s something about the middle-of-the-road aesthetic that just freaks me out.

On the other hand, I’d be more than ready to spend the rest of my days at a boutique hotel like Le Germain or, better yet, any of the Aman resorts.

But not all the posh digs are so green. A lot of them change towels and bedsheets daily whether or not you’re the only one staying in the room, they keep lights on everywhere at all hours, and, well, you just have to read about Lori’s hellish experience to know what I’m talking about.

So from now on, I’m going to make sure that I only stay at eco-friendly hotels. One in Montreal that I’m super-excited about is ALT, which is currently undergoing the final stages of construction. It’s owned by the wonderful people behind the Germain name and was written about on TreeHugger here.

I spoke to one of the owners a little while ago for a potential story, and he explained that it was less about capitalizing on the green trend than it was about good business sense — in the end, by cutting back on water and energy bills, using sustainable, long-lasting materials and maintaining a no-frills attitude, they can not only save money themselves but keep the room rates low, too.

And if any of you Thistle readers come visit me in Toronto, I highly recommend the Fairmont Royal York, a posh hotel that’s been green since the ’80s. A few months ago, I went to a wine-tasting at their restaurant, and the publicist offered to take me into the kitchen so I could see the slop bucket “in action” — basically, all the food waste gets tossed onto this conveyor belt and winds up in a huge pail, which then goes to Turtle Island Recycling. They also have a green roof with an herb garden (you can get a complimentary tour), offer their employees subsidized transit passes and have just installed a new and improved bike rack for guests.

2 Responses to That mint on my pillow had better be fair-trade certified! (Day 134)…

  1. Carreen says:

    Just wondering what kind of luck you will have on your current trip to find green hotels… I have the same experience as the link you posted to about the supposedly “green” programs at hotels that replace the towels when you don’t want or need them replaced. While it is a marketing gimmick to get you to feel better about the hotel, I don’t think they ignore it intentionally. I think it being ignored usually has to do with language barriers of the housekeeping staff.

  2. Bill F says:

    Thanks for the hotel recommendation. When I used to fly to Toronto once or twice a year I’d always stay at the Hilton because I was collecting their points, but always thought that I’d like to try the York, since I’d heard so many good things. So next time I’ll do it.

    As a side note, the very last time I was there (at the Hilton) I was wakened by screaming alarms at 3 in the morning. While scrambling to pull clothes on before running down a zillion flights of stairs an announcement came on saying things were being investigated and not to evacuate. (The alarm kept screaming for 15 minutes anyway.) The next day we found out a homeless person had crept into the hotel basement and started a camp fire!

    I also found out that my wilder friends had just returned and went to bed when the alarm sounded. They had spent evening attempting to drain the Guiness and scotch supplies at the Duke of Argyle pub. So, they were in a really unhappy mood that morning.

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