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A GREENLIGHT FORLUXURY:TERRA RESORTInsight Issue 1Winter 2009 Your average hotel room scene is familiar to all of us. We are lavished with a sea of packaging: individually-wrapped soaps and shampoos, piles of towels, stationary and daily newspapers. However, these days an oft-overlooked, eco-consciousness is beginning to permeate the hospitality market in varying degrees. With Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, the ﬁrst in a collection of green hotels launched by the Terra Resort Group, ‘green’ has been elevated to a bold no-compromise level of luxury and comfort. The motivational framework behind Terra is the rugged Wyoming landscape and pristine Grand Tetons – 97% of the area is a national reserve. Dictated by the environment, the Terra owners/ developers moved to build a low impact hotel that would be a shared partner of the existing environment. From the outset, they commit- ted to constructing a LEED-certiﬁed building and then pushed well beyond LEED criteria operationally while still offering an indulgent hotel experience to their guests. Samantha Denny, Corporate Marketing Director for Terra Resort summarizes the Group’s mission: “Various members of the Terra executive group are former Four Seasons executives whose goal, ﬁrst and foremost, was to create a luxurious guest experience with amazing, intuitive service, beautiful surroundings ﬁlled with light, comfortable rooms – and then to surprise our guests with how sustainable it is.” the utility bills came under budget and we actually save 35% of water annually The Terra approach is socially responsible and also the right business strategy. The data garnered from a recent Y Partnership survey supports the Terra formula: While 78% of Americans consider themselves to be environmentally conscious and 54% of1 YPartnership/Yankelovich,Inc. these respondents are likely to favor a hotel that is environmentally responsible, onlyNational Travel Monitor Findings 1 out of 10 consumers would actually be willing to pay a higher rate for ‘green’. 1
Insight Issue 1, Fall 2008: A GREEN LIGHT FOR LUXURY: TERRA RESORT Thus, while consumer awareness of a supplier’s efforts to operate in an environmen- tally-responsible manner may be sufﬁcient to provoke a shift in patronage, unless all prices are equal, the ‘green’ factor alone is rarely enough to lure the consumer. This explains why certain resorts that have touted ‘green’ as their main draw have not seen the desired payback on higher upfront costs. At Terra, “green is in the details”. The 72 room eco-boutique hotel features energy efﬁcient windows, custom mattresses fashioned from organic cotton, chemical–free cleaning products, a sophisticated air ﬁltration system, a heating and cooling sys- tem that can be monitored by zone – for example the heat in bathroom and bedroom can be regulated to be warmer temperature than the seating area; when the room is vacant, the system can be in low energy mode. The water system is also eco-friendly with a two button ﬂush; and the landscaping was designed so that maintenance would not require additional water output. “One of the greatest challenges in going green is that monitoring and reviewing energy and water output, etc. require a lot of time and attention. “To help keep our focus on our environmental commitment, we appointed a Corporate Director of sustainability. In this role, Ashley Morgan, is charged with all the purchasing for the hotel. She sources vendors that provide a high quality luxu- rious green alternatives and give thought to social responsibility in their business”. In some cases, the Terra team had to partner with a vendor to develop a ﬁve star eco-conscious product that didn’t yet exist. Morgan felt it crucial to supply the rooms with mattresses constructed of organic cotton and recycled steel springs. While the mattresses ended up costing twice as much as comparable non-ecofriendly bedding, Terra’s Executive Team realized the vital need of keeping ‘green’. The bed is part of the hotel that the guests come most intimately in contact with. While Terra admits that the start-up and LEED building costs are higher than those incurred for a non-green construction, Denny states that Terra is focused on the long term return on investment. Interestingly, costs incurred on the operations side are the same if not less than a comparable luxury hotel. “In fact the utility bills came under budget and we actually
Insight Issue 1, Fall 2008: A GREEN LIGHT FOR LUXURY: TERRA RESORT save 35% of water annually,” states Denny. While it is perhaps a little too soon to tell, the employees sound as pleased as the guests. ...our managers are very proud and enthusiastic about our ‘green’ mis- sion. There is a strong spirit of innovation on how to raise the bar on protecting the environment... Amid the competitive hospitality market and challenging economic times, clarity of message and brand are crucial. Terra has successfully imparted the luxurious aspects of the resort while committing to ‘green’ hospitality as the added bonus. Guests are attracted to the luxury and service of the hotel, and they leave feeling better about the environment as well. JDRQuest & Co. Insights: When JDRQuest & Co. was tasked to ﬁnd an Area Spa Director for Terra Resort, we knew that passion and dedication to quality and innovation were key criteria. It is these candidates that are enthusiastic and vested in the mission of the property that will have the staying power and the greatest impact on the business in the shortest time. A business that puts forth a strong philosophy and point of view attracts employees that are like-minded and passionate, creating a great synergy in the workplace. A strong philosophy of altruism and social responsibility helps to keep employ- ees vested in the company as it speaks to employees personally through linking to a higher cause and making a difference. Surveys have shown that workplace environment has a direct affect on productiv- ity and overall employee satisfaction. At Terra Resort, employees feel that the open, bright atmosphere and sophisticated air circulation system contributes to their won- derful work environment. “The future of luxury will be about imparting real meaning to a product – to show that a product is sustainable and shows a genuine sensitivity to the community” is gaining in signiﬁcance in today’s competitive market. Companies who choose to dif- ferentiate themselves in providing that unique guest experience in a low-impact man- ner will certainly offset upfront costs with repeat business and high client satisfaction in the long-term. ‘Greening’ is rapidly becoming an expectation of the enlightened travelers and a focus of the emerging Millennials generation , who are committed to a ‘green’ future.
Boutique hotel company leading the way on eco-friendly and sustainable operations.