Interview with Ashlan Cousteau, Eco Luxury Expert

Interview with Ashlan Cousteau, Eco Luxury Expert
Ashlan was recently named as the Eco-luxury ambassador for Dot Luxury. We interview her about what hotels are doing to be more eco-friendly.

Eco-friendly luxury resorts in top vacation destinations have been around for ages, but options for business travelers visiting US cities appear to be limited. What do you think is behind the lag in city hotels adopting an eco-luxury point of view?

I think in the past, hotels saw upgrading their existing systems to be more environmentally conscious as an expense. Now hotels and their management groups see these upgrades as a cost savings to them and as a way to meet expanding customer demands.

Tell us about how business hotels in cities have embraced traveler demands that they become eco-friendly?

The big chains are making huge strides in being more green. Starwood Hotels have always been a leader in the eco movement, placing shampoo and body-wash containers in all Aloft properties (similar size hotels go thru about 30,000 plastic shampoo bottles a year), building all Element properties green from the ground up and rewarding customers who make a "Green Choice" when checking in (choosing to not have your room cleaned you save 49.2 gallons of water, 0.19 kHh of electricity and 7oz of cleaning product chemicals per night). In 2015, Hyatt ordered a company wide audit of their water and energy use. This has allowed them to continually track their utility usage and improve upon it every year. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has asked all 100 of its kitchens worldwide to use organic food sourced from within 100 miles. And these are just a few of the changes that have been happening in the hospitality business worldwide.

What trends are you seeing in the eco-friendly hospitality space when it comes to hotels in cities, or that cater to the business traveler?

Many hotels are really trying to create a special atmosphere to have them stand out among the competition. From in season organic cocktails in the lounge, to hybrid house cars and even personalized tracking of your in-room water and electricity use, hotels are really looking at every aspect of the hotel experience as a way to make a difference and an impression.

Lots of hotels claim to be green/eco-friendly. What should business travelers be looking for to determine whether their hotel picks are earth friendly?

Many hotels and chains are proud of the changes they have made to be more conscious. A simple search on a hotel's website will show you what that property has done to reduce their impact on the environment. It's not a good sign when you don't see any eco bragging on their site. And two quick "green" checks: look to see what kind of landscaping they have in their photos and if their restaurant sources local and in season produce. Both are a great litmus test. And there are certifications that hotels can apply for, my favorite being the LEED certification from the US Green Building Council.