Friday, November 1, 2013

Element Hotel features the deepest shade of "green"

Those of us who travel frequently become acutely aware of hotels that are environmentally sensitive. Instead of encouraging wastefulness by replacing a barely used bar of soap daily or running air conditioners at max speed (so we need blankets to sleep comfortably), we’ve come to appreciate brands that make an extra effort to conserve energy, materials, and supplies.

Exterior of Element Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Hotel
That’s why I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to stay at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport ElementHotel.

Starwood has developed a spin-off of its Westin brand--called Element Hotels--that is far above other eco-wise hotels in its commitment to being earth-friendly. From the moment we drove up and saw the sleek, no-frills design we knew this would be a different kind of accommodation.

Public lounge area of Element Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Hotel
uses recycled materials whenever possible.
For starters, all 11 of the Element branded  hotels are 100% powered by renewable energy. I was also amazed by how much of the construction utilized recycled and eco-friendly materials. For example, fabrics on sofas are soy-based, floors are made from recycled tires, backsplash tiles in kitchen areas are made from depression glass, and wall coverings are composed of recycled water bottles. Makes you realize how much is wasted when materials are discarded instead of reused.

A unique feature recently instituted at the hotel is pedal-powered charging stations in its fitness center. Guests can pedal their way to a fully charged tablet or smart phone during their workout on a stationary bike. There are also priority parking spaces with plug-ins for electric cars.

Shades replace heavy draperies, and soy-based fabrics cover sofas in our room.
Many of the rooms at Element are designed with its extended stay option in mind, which means there is more space, plenty of storage cabinets (far more than the standard chest of drawers), modern acrylic desks, daily cleaning service, dishes and utensils in the full kitchen, outdoor grill ready for guest use, and computer hook-ups for the TV (appreciated by business travelers).

Many rooms have fully stocked kitchens with depression glass
backsplashes and spray handles on faucets.
But comfort isn’t sacrificed as each room provides Westin-branded Heavenly beds. Extra seating is also a common feature in guest rooms.

A hearty breakfast satisfies guests, giving them a good start for the day. We especially enjoyed the complimentary evening reception, held Monday through Thursday, with unlimited drinks (wine and beer included), snacks, and even a light—but substantial--meal such spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread or hamburgers with potato salad and all the trimmings. These options are especially family-friendly.

Back side of the hotel features a saline pool and cook-out area
The Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport Hotel also contains upgrades from others in the Element brand, such as a larger conference/meeting room, back lighting above beds, and spray handles on kitchen faucets. While some of the d├ęcor seemed bland, artwork added an occasional splash of color. Even though individual rooms have ample work space, the common area is equipped with plenty of table space and wi-fi capability to encourage casual get-togethers.

 In addition to the established hotels, others are in various stages of execution around the country. Check to see if the city you’re visiting has the Element option, which provides travelers—both business and leisure--with a place to live comfortably, whether their stay is a few nights or a few weeks.
Photos by Beverly Burmeier
Read more travel stories at Striped Pot and Austin Adventure Travel



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