Do not disturb my green living (Day 204)…

September 20, 2007

door sign

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently enrolled in this writing program at the Banff Centre, which is commendably eco-friendly when it comes to accommodation. But there are still daily housekeeping rounds, which means that while they may not change all my towels and linens, they will empty my garbage, replace semi-used toilettries, vacuum and so on — none of which really needs doing.

So to make sure the staff don’t come in and start undoing all my attempts at conservation, I’m going to leave the Do Not Disturb sign hanging on my door for the entire week, whether or not I’m in my room — and this will apply for every hotel I’m staying at in the future, too.

Unfortunately, the housekeeping staff here is for some bizarre reason comprised of handsome young men (seriously, I’m going to take a picture at some point because they look so ridiculously out of place with their athletic good looks … and pushcarts stacked with toilet paper).

If only there were some sort of sign that said “Do Not Clean Room — But Feel Free to Come In For a Drink!”

Photo above from my hotel room in Madrid this summer

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

July 12, 2007

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.