Best Western — the world’s largest hotel chain with some 4,000 independently owned and operated properties in 100 countries and territories around the globe — is going green in a big way.
Every North American Best Western — representing more than 2,000 hotels — is required to have at least one green program in place, ranging from offering in-room recycling bins to installing low-flow shower heads and power-flush toilets to using green cleaning products and energy efficient appliances.
Some of its geothermal- and solar-powered hotels actually sell power back to the grid. Others participate in national or international eco-labeling programs. More than two-fifths of Canadian Best Westerns, for instance, have earned Green Keys from the Green Key Eco-rating program, presented by the Foundation for Environmental Education.
Best Western Supply, which offers materials for hotel construction, renovation and operations, features more than a thousand environmentally friendly products and works with more than a hundred green suppliers.
The green philosophy carries over into Europe, where most Best Westerns are three- and four star hotels, known for reflecting local culture and architecture in their design. (My wife and I were pleasantly surprised to discover a few years ago that Best Westerns we stayed at in Switzerland offered four-star style and comfort, as well as some amazing views of Swiss Alps and alpine lakes.)
The Best Western Kaiserhof in Vienna, for example, has served as a role model for green properties in Austria, earning Green Globe honors (given to successful sustainability programs in tourism businesses) the past two years. Offering biodegradable products, reusing guest towels and sheets (as, thankfully, many hotels are doing these days), and promoting local products and eco-friendly transportation are among its initiatives.
Traveling baby boomers who want to help promote eco-friendly practices in the hotel industry should seriously consider patronizing Best Western hotels that go green. (Look for the green eco hotel icon when searching for Best Western’s properties.)
And other hotel chains should take a long look at what Best Western has been accomplishing in this field. Hotels that don’t adapt to the new green ethos are liable to pay the price in lost business by environmentally conscious boomers.
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