Martin Resorts hotel guests get a financial reward for doing their part to conserve water: A $5 nightly credit if they’re willing to go without housekeeping service on multiple-night stays.
It’s been a “big hit,” said Noreen Martin, chief executive officer of Martin Resorts, which has rolled out several measures to conserve water since last year. “To quote Erik Mund, general manager of Pismo Lighthouse Suites, ‘Our guests seem to like the savings in both dollars and drops,’ ” she said.
Some hoteliers in San Luis Obispo have adopted a variety of measures to curb water waste, in addition to following state regulations to give guests the option not to launder sheets and towels daily.
By offering incentives and using water-saving strategies — replacing water-thirsty landscaping, for instance — several hotel owners believe they are raising awareness among staff and customers that they’re serious about conservation.
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Martin Resorts has removed some landscaping at the front of Inn at the Cove in Pismo Beach, replacing it with succulents that already thrive along the coast, said Lori Keller, vice president of sales and marketing. At the Pismo Lighthouse Suites, another Martin Resorts property, artificial turf is used instead of grass for the lawn.
In addition to the financial incentive for guests and establishing more drought-tolerant landscaping, Martin Resorts promotes conservation by replacing washing machines with energy-efficient ones, using energy-efficient toilets, shower heads and faucets, and switching to recyclable paper products from glassware. It has introduced an incentive program for housekeeping staff teams that show measurable water savings each billing cycle.
“Our staff has truly embraced the programs and understand the difference we can make,” said Margaret Johnson, chief operating officer of Martin Resorts.
Other hoteliers are stepping up their efforts, as well.
Denis Volic, general manager of La Bellasera Hotel and Suites in Paso Robles, said the hotel works closely with its vendors and contractors to ensure that its laundry and dishwashing machines are working as efficiently as possible.
“Eco-Lab is the national company that handles our laundry, and they review our laundry procedures,” he said. “There’s weekly training from the technician to the service staff.”
There’s also been a change to the evening turn-down service, he said. Water jugs are no longer placed next to the bed. As well, the hotel is considering placing covers on the pool and spa to help conserve water and energy.
Hotel Cheval, a small boutique hotel in downtown Paso Robles, focuses on its guest rooms, with low-flow toilets and showers, and ground maintenance.
“With regard to the grounds, we have a sophisticated drip system,” said Eva Peck, director of marketing. “Our maintenance team troubleshoots constantly and looks for unknown leaks. We also have a few fountains on the property, and when we change the water, all of it is used for watering the landscaping.”
Although it is a luxury hotel, Peck said only two of the rooms have tubs.
“In the old days, Jacuzzi tubs were the epitome of luxury,” she said. “Now, most people appreciate a nice, oversized European shower, and we minimize the amount of water being used there.”
Guests appreciate the steps the hotel has taken to conserve water, Peck said. “They comment on the fact that we don’t automatically wash everything every day,” she said. “They are really cognizant of the drought and who it affects.”
Chuck Davison, president and chief executive officer of Visit SLO County, which promotes county tourism, said the organization continues to disseminate educational information monthly to its constituents about the importance of curbing water waste, and it recently hosted an educational talk for its members. At the talk, county officials and other water conservation experts discussed what lodging owners can do to conserve. The discussion also focused on how compliance with water regulations is being enforced.
“Some of the larger hoteliers like Martin Resorts are really ahead of the curve,” Davison said. “But your typical hotelier — especially the smaller hotels, motels and B&Bs — doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to figure out how to do some of these things.”
It’s important for hotel and motel owners to stay on top of water conservation because communities could ultimately issue fines based on the amount of water used, Davison said. He fears that talk of an El Niño year has drawn the conversation away from conservation.
“It was something a couple of months ago that people wanted to talk about. Now we’re in this whole realm of ‘we’re not going to focus on it because we’ll have plenty of water,’ ” he said. “But this is more about a change in lifestyle, than ‘hey, let’s do this for the season.’ It’s a long-term issue.”