“We just can’t help it. Once we got started on green practices, we keep asking ourselves and each other, ‘What’s next?’, ‘What else can we do?'”   Grace Lial, Director of Guest Services at the DoubleTree by Hilton – Portland, was simply beaming as she described their latest ideas.  Grace wasn’t telling us this because it is the party line or for promotional reasons, but because she was so very proud of their ingenuity and accomplishments she wanted to share them with us.

What started as an impromptu visit to the property turned into a great learning opportunity for our new employee at MeetGreen as well as our seasoned planners.  Sometimes we think we have seen it all, but in less than 30 minutes, we had to admit we haven’t.  Here are some of the innovative ideas we discovered during our short visit:

In-room composting.  Guests are now able to compost right in their sleeping rooms and avoid putting items into their waste or recycling bins.  Housekeepers empty and clean these bins during their regular rounds several times daily, so smell is not a problem.

Digital newspapers.  After much discussion about what to do with all of the unread USA Today newspapers stacking up outside guests doors, the Portland property worked with the brand office to find a solution.  In turn, by this office enrolling the publisher to find a solution, the hotel now has a system to provide digital versions of the news for guests.  This solution has been adopted across the chain, thanks to the Portland property.

Digital mass transit monitor.  The property being on a light-rail line is great, but it is even better when the monitor next to the front door tells you what bus/rail lines are available in the vicinity and when the next scheduled stop will be.  You can stand inside, out of the rain, and learn that the next train headed for the convention center and downtown will be arriving in 18 minutes.  The monitor is synched up with the Tri-Met system for constant updating.

These initiatives were new to me in my travels and I was impressed.  What really impressed me, however, was the pride and excitement of the employees in telling their sustainable story.  A story they are living, breathing and writing each day.