I was recently invited by the folks at Starwood to come check out the new Element Hotel in New York City and spend the night in what I think might be one of the greenest hotels around the Big Apple, if not the country.
Element is a new concept under the Westin brand that seems to want to get away from “hotel living” and let guests feel like they are at a home away from home. The amenities are great: free wifi, lots of gathering spaces with comfy chairs and places to chat, read a book or watch TV, and added bonuses like a warm GOOD, FREE breakfast in the morning and even a 2-hour free cocktail reception in the lobby at night.
Here’s the first thing that is a major difference between Element and other hotels in NYC: each room as a kitchen. Listen: I’m not visiting New York to whip up a dinner party for friends or attempt my hand at the latest recipe from the pages of the dining section of The New York Times, but I like the fact if I want a cup of tea late at night or want to warm up some leftovers from dinner I had a great restaurant earlier that evening, I can. In my bathrobe. At anytime at night. So bonus points here.
But just in case, the kitchen is STOCKED! Lots of kitchen basics are here and an automatic dishwasher to keep it all clean (even with eco-friendly Seventh Generation soap to use inside the dishwasher).
Water efficient showerheads from Kohler are in the very modern bathroom along with dual-flush toilets, which I’m glad to see becoming much more common in hotel rooms these days.
At Element, their green commitment is pretty deep:
- All Element Hotels meet the US Green Building Council’s LEED certification program, meaning the building has achieved certain levels of major energy efficiency, use of recycled materials and use of non-toxic supplies throughout the entire hotel.
- Floors feature carpeting made from 100% recycled material.
- The art on the walls is mounted on bases made from recycled tires.
- Low to zero VOC paints are used on the walls.
- All guest room kitchen appliances are Energy Star rated. And in the common areas, reusable dishes, utensils, glassware and other non-disposable items are always used and readily available.
- Recycling bins are available throughout the entire property.
But there’s also approach about “whole living” at Element, including expanded common spaces designed to get you out of the hotel room and into the public space to meet friends, relax and unwind. I have to say, for the value of the hotel, you get a lot in return. The enormous gym at this property is something I’ve only seen at 5-star properties. Plus, the free Internet stations in the living room area were a big plus, just in case I didn’t feel like lugging my laptop into the city.
And speaking of their “whole living” philosophy, no surprise to see this magazine in the room!
There’s also an amazing installation of recycled water bottles in the lobby that I stupidly didn’t take a picture of…but if you’re in the hotel, you must see it. I was told by the Element brand manager that it was not only easy to make, but transportable in a tiny box to go from city to city if they needed it to be shipped. It was really upcycling at its best.