Creating Luxury Hotel Experiences That Don’t Strain the Environment

Santa Monica
Santa Monica

More and more businesses are choosing to make more earth-friendly choices, and the hotel industry is not immune. More brands are rejecting the idea that luxury travel and guest experiences must put a strain on the environment. Shore Hotel, located in Santa Monica, California, has been ahead of this trend in many ways since opening in 2011.

As the first LEED Gold-certified hotel in Santa Monica, Shore Hotel reduces energy consumption through several avenues. The building itself was designed with sustainability in mind, as it’s construction used more than 75 percent of recycled or salvaged materials. The property’s “Green Clean” program aims to save water, energy, and resources across more than 8,800 rooms, and guests are rewarded for opting in—Shore Hotel has given out over $73,800 in credits as an incentive.

In addition, the hotel has saved more than 31 million watts through the extensive use of LED light bulbs throughout the property, which have cut energy use by an average of 52 percent. Shore Hotel also participates in an energy-saving program called “demand response unit.” As the only hotel in California to take part, Shore Hotel cuts its energy usage in half during peak hours to reduce strain on the grid. In another effort to reduce energy consumption, the hotel has covered 75 percent of roof space with solar panels, which power the swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as help reduce heat islands—urban areas that are significantly warmer than surrounding rural land.

“It is important to have clean communities and a clean future,” says General Manager Gerry Peck of the reason behind the dedication to sustainability. “Since we are in the hotel business, we can spread the word to our guests, who will ultimately do the same in their communities.”


Another sustainable switch Shore Hotel has made is opting for low-flow shower heads and efficient toilets and faucets. This hardware, coupled with the AquaRecycle Laundry Water Recycle System, has saved the hotel an estimated 5.2 million gallons of water in the past seven years. Using drought-resistant plants has also reduced the hotel’s water usage.

Another key part of maintaining sustainable operations, Peck says, is partnering with like-minded suppliers and vendors. The hotel works with fair trade vendors for their coffee needs and sources guestroom amenities from LATHER, an eco-friendly skincare company. Shore Hotel also provides free sunscreen for guests via a poolside dispenser. Created by Raw Elements, this sunscreen is reef-friendly and contains no Oxybenzone.

“One aspect of travel is to get out and enjoy what you normally don’t do at home, which can mean expensive amenities and the finest food. We buck that thought, instead going for the right thing to do,” Peck says. “We’re fortunate that Santa Monica and Southern California as a whole are home to so many eco-friendly brands and practices like LATHER and Raw Elements.”

Shore Hotel’s eco-friendly efforts are not limited to the resort. The hotel donates $15 for every purchase of their mascot, Shorely Sands, to Heal the Bay, a non-profit based in Santa Monica. To date, more than $20,000 has been donated. The hotel also created a scholarship, effective for the 2018-2019 school year, that was awarded to two students of environmental studies attending Santa Monica College.

The property’s efforts to improve sustainability are not over yet. Shore Hotel is replacing its in-house brand of bottled water with JUST water, which is bottled locally and includes a recyclable bottle made from biodegradable paper with a corn product exterior and cap, which is also lined with recyclable aluminum. Shore Hotel will be providing 11.2 fl oz JUST water bottles for free at the front desk and valet, with larger bottles available for purchase in guestrooms.

“We’ve been looking for a green alternative to the single-use plastic water bottles we have at the hotel for our guests, and JUST is the perfect eco-friendly replacement,” Peck says. “Thanks to this partnership, we’ll be saving over 50,000 plastic water bottles a year.”

All of these strategies are steps that other hotels can take as well, says Peck. He recommends reaching out to local governments or trade associations for recommendations and potential partnerships.“Our advice is to just do what you need to do,” he says. “ Get the word out. Don’t shy away from this, and let it be known what your convictions are.”

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Megan Kelly is an intern at LODGING.