Mandalay Bay announced this week its plans to build the second largest rooftop solar array in the country by 2014. The solar array will provide the hotel with about 20% of its energy needs. With the many days of sunshine that Las Vegas sees every year, it makes sense to tap into that free resource if possible. There is an upfront cost, of course, but it will pay for itself over time. It’s also a very “green” thing to do. So it’s a win-win for the hotel’s bottom line and its environmental reputation.
Don’t underestimate the goodwill an environmental reputation can generate. I know I think more highly of hotels I know are trying to conserve resources and be environmental. Things like pumps in the shower that dispense shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel are far better for the environment than the little containers of toiletries that most hotels hand out. (Those containers wind up in landfills, after all.) Hotels with motion-sensor lights in the hallways save energy. So do rooms with keycard-activation for lights and air conditioning so energy isn’t being wasted while the room is unoccupied.
But how many people really care if their hotel is environmentally friendly or not? And how deep do those feelings run? How green do you want your hotel to be? And how green do you want it to be if it’s inconvenient or means changing your own behavior?
Many Las Vegas resorts, like the Bellagio, are already engaged in environmental practices that go unseen by hotel guests. They have workers behind the scenes sifting recycling materials out of trash, for instance. Their office areas have those motion-sensor lights. They use energy-efficient LED bulbs in their slot machines. But those things don’t require any sacrifice or change in behavior from guests. What if they did?
I’d like to think that I’m environmental, but the truth is that I’m probably mddle-of-the-road environmental. I create more recycling than trash every week, I have energy-efficient appliances, shop with reusable canvas bags, and I drink my water every day at work out of refillable Kleen Kanteen water bottles.
But I also have a Keurig coffee maker. Those little cups cannot be recycled. I eat frozen lunches every day at work, because I don’t have time to make my lunch any more. Those boxes cannot be recycled. So obviously, I’m environmental up to a point, but when it comes right down to convenience vs. being environmental, the scales tip to convenience.
Are you like that?
How many resorts and hotels actually practice what they preach, anyway? I often see signs in bathrooms saying that towels won’t be changed every day unless you throw them on the floor (which I don’t, because I’m willing to reuse them). And yet, every single day, my towels have been changed. This has been true in almost every hotel I’ve ever visited, in Las Vegas and elsewhere. If I leave a tip for housekeeping every day—which I always do—I find myself drowning in unnecessary toiletries by the end of the week. They seem to feel obligated to leave me extra shampoo just because I left them a couple of bucks.
Every once in awhile, I think it’s important to stop and consider what’s really important to us and why and how we make the decisions we do. So just out of curiosity, I’ve come up with a few questions we can all ask ourselves to find out just how green we want our Las Vegas resorts to be–and how much we are willing to sacrifice to “save the environment”. (Obviously, the survey only applies to those of you who give a damn about the environment, even a little. If you don’t, see you next week!)
1. Do you book your resorts based on their environmental practices?
2. When a resort offers you the option of reusing your towels for more than one day, do you do that?
3. If there were recycling bins all over your resort’s property (in your room, the lobby, casino, pool area, etc.), would you use them?
4. Assuming you consider yourself to be “green,” and if you had a choice between two equal hotels at equal prices that were right next door to each other, one widely known to be “green” and one not particularly environmentally-friendly, which would you choose?
5. What if the environmental hotel were $30/night more expensive than the non-environmental hotel? Which would you choose then?
6. What if the environmental hotel were the same price, but off-Strip?
7. Would you be okay with a keycard-activated system in your room to conserve energy when unoccupied, even if it meant your room was a little warm whenever you returned to it because the a/c hadn’t been running?
8. If a resort was super environmental—energy-efficient, recycling water as much as possible, etc.–but had no Internet or wifi service at all, would you stay there?
9. If the resort you wanted to stay at banned bottled water on its premises (even if you bought it elsewhere), would you stay there?
If you’d like to continue the conversation, please feel free to answer these questions–or pose your own–in the comments below.