VAIL, COLORADO — Vail Cascade Resort was recently acknowledged as a leader in ecologically friendly practices receiving a rating of “5 Green Keys” by Green Key Global. Green Key Global is an eco-rating program with a graduated rating system, designed to recognize hotels and resorts that are committed to improving their environmental and fiscal performance. Based on the results of a comprehensive environmental assessment, hoteliers are awarded a 1-5 Green Key rating and provided with guidance on how to “unlock” opportunities to reduce environmental impacts through reduced utility consumption, employee training, and supply chain management. This is the first year that Vail Cascade Resort applied for and was awarded the top level of recognition.
A statement regarding the award from Green Key Global called the Vail Cascade, “a hotel that exemplifies the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility throughout all areas of operations. The hotel employs cutting edge technologies, policies and programs which set an international standard for sustainable hotel operations.”
Vail Cascade has a formal, written environmental policy that addresses areas such as water and energy conservation, recycling, community involvement and “eco-purchasing”-striving to place a priority on buying recycled/earth friendly products. Adding to the efforts is the “Green Team,” a committee of employees on property that educate and motivate others to follow eco-friendly activities aligned with the Destination Earth initiative. Destination Hotels and Resorts, managing entity of Vail Cascade, chose the Destination Earth program as a company-wide initiative of sustainable practices.
Other notable efforts of the Vail Cascade include using organic and sustainable ingredients in signature restaurant Atwater on Gore Creek, special events on Earth Day and dedicated recycling waste bins in the hotel rooms, office spaces, and throughout the resort. Curtis Heath, Director of Engineering for the resort, elaborated on what it takes to head up the Green Team: “My background in engineering has a lot to do with energy management systems, which I believe has taken Vail Cascade to the next level. We have implemented several additional projects to reduce our energy consumption. During the 30 million dollar renovation at the Vail Cascade we added heat pumps in every guestroom, 1200 amps of power for snow melt, and three fire features and yet we have been able to maintain the original energy costs.”
Guests have noticed the improvement of energy consciousness as well as become more savvy in searching for “green” travel. In follow-up surveys of prior guests of the Vail Cascade, a measurement is taken to determine how important being “green” is to the travelers. There is a rise in those who identify that being eco-friendly is a significant factor in choosing where they stay.
Additionally, a survey done by National Geographic Traveler revealed that more than three-quarters of American travelers feel that it is important that their visits not damage the environment. The study also classifies a type of traveler who is a “geotourist.” Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited, including its environment, culture, and resident’s well-being.
General Manager Brett Schoenfield sums up the latest award and environmental efforts by saying, “Vail Cascade recognizes the need for eco-responsibility in our practices and for our guests. We are so pleased that those efforts have been recognized by receiving the “5 Keys” designation, and we intend to continue to strive for leadership in earth-friendly efforts.”