Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Teneo Members’ Green Efforts Span Coast to Countryside, Initiatives Preserve Beaches, Woodlands, Wildlife
Three Critical Areas of Sustainable Conservation
Eden Prairie, MN… It started with organic soaps, recycling bottles, water conservation and signs urging guests to turn out the lights before leaving the room. Today, environmentally conscious hoteliers support holistic conservation strategies that reach into every corner of the property. Driven by technology and the demands of environmentally conscious guests, these initiatives have sharply reduced waste, conserved resources, saved money and educated guests to the importance of environmental efforts. The hotel industry has made remarkable progress, but beyond the bricks and mortar of member hotels and resorts lie acres of countryside and coastline that present sustainability challenges and opportunities.
“For many hotels, responsibility for the lands and waterways surrounding the property has become a commitment and an increasingly complex challenge,” says Mike Schugt, president of Teneo Hospitality Group, the premier global firm representing 300+ independent and luxury branded hotels, resorts and DMCs. These responsibilities include woodlands, campgrounds, beachfronts, everglades, mangrove forests, lakes and rivers, as well as marine and wildlife, which has become a priority as rising tides, drought and development encroach upon habitat.
Teneo’s member hotels have spearheaded numerous sustainability projects at every level of operations, according to Mike Schugt. “We are seeing many creative approaches to managing land and water resources, and a trend towards educating guests regarding wildlife and land preservation. Teneo is excited about the sustainability efforts of their member hotels. The meeting planners and groups we partner with are equally enthusiastic!”
Critical Area #1: Land–Preserve It, They’re Not Making Any More
While many of today’s hotels offer impressive programs to save water and conserve energy inside the building, some resorts must find equally effective ways to deal with the great outdoors. The Resort at Paws Up in Montana comprises 37,000 acres of hills, woodlands and rivers, ideal for outdoor activities and an array of team building and special adventure programs. The resort offers luxury safari-style campgrounds on land that must be responsibly managed. Several rivers run through the property including the Blackfoot, an angler’s paradise. Thanks to The Resort at Paws Up uniting efforts with local ranchers, hoteliers, conservationists and state and federal wildlife agencies, the waterways are as clear and brimming with trout as they were when Lewis and Clark passed through.
The staff of Vail’s Sonnenalp Hotel regularly volunteers to clean the nearby Eagle River, local highways and mountain bike trails. The resort helps employees to reduce their carbon footprint by providing bus passes, car pool coordination and housing within walking distance of the hotel. Sonnenalp also works to educate guests, employees and the public by supporting a range of community efforts, including Zero Hero information stations at community venues such as the Vail Farmers Market.
Since 1806, the healing mineral springs at the historic Omni Bedford Springs Resort have drawn a celebrated clientele. Thirteen US presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have visited this bucolic retreat in Southern Pennsylvania’s Allegheny mountains. For 200 years, the hotel has carefully conserved these exceptional natural spring waters. The springs feed the indoor pool at the resort’s Aquatic Center and the natural spring waters are used in treatments at the Springs Eternal Spa.
Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Central California’s wine country is a Tuscan-style villa surrounded by beautiful vineyards that produce fine Allegretto wines served in the resort’s restaurants. Using Old World methods, grapes are harvested by hand versus machine and are grown in small lot vineyards to preserve land. The main villa was designed with the most sophisticated environmental systems available, including those that ensure highest quality of runoff water, preserve natural vegetation, and promote ground water recharge.
The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Southeastern Wisconsin spans 1,300 acres of ski slopes, lakefront and woodlands. Recently the resort, certified by Travel Green Wisconsin, extended its award-winning environmental efforts to one of its two championship golf courses, restoring tens of thousands of square feet of land surrounding the course by planting native grasses and plants. The Grand Geneva Resort is also home to the Roy Divik-designed Entry Garden, a sustainable meadow of more than 20 vivid flowers and grasses, predominantly native to the Midwest.
Most urban hotels have little acreage to worry about, but New York’s 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge supports the adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park with funds and an innovative rainwater reclamation system that irrigates the park during the summer months. The system also reduces storm water runoff into neighboring water streams by more than 50 percent. Roughly 5,000 cubic feet of water is projected to be reclaimed each year.
Critical Area #2: Against the Tide
Beach erosion and water pollution are major concerns for oceanfront and lakeside resorts. The situation has grown more urgent following the three devastating hurricanes that pummeled the US and the Caribbean in the Fall of 2017.
Volunteers from The Ranch at Laguna Beach currently maintain a 0.75-mile stretch of the Aliso Creek Channel in Mission Viejo. Since December 2015, the resort’s team has removed over 2,500 pounds of trash and debris from the channel, preventing this damaging refuse from polluting the Pacific Ocean. Using an invention called the GL Sand Machine, the resort recycles glass bottles by pulverizing them into sand that is then used in the golf course sand traps and to help replenish sand on Laguna Beach. The Ranch at Laguna Beach is the first property in the Continental United States to utilize the GL Sand machine and it has found a new use for it. Oyster shells from the hotel’s restaurant are ground up and used on the property’s bocce ball courts.
In South Florida, mangrove forests play a key role in marine ecology, serving as habitat for a variety of marine species and birds and as the first line of defense in the face of hurricanes. Guests of the Naples Grande Beach Resort can explore the adjoining 200-acre mangrove preserve and estuary via canoe and kayak. The hotel’s eco-friendly boardwalk, composed of recycled milk jugs, provides an eco-friendly path to the resort’s three miles of beachfront habitat, under the stewardship of its employees and managers.
Critical Area #3: Walk on the Wild Side
Wildlife preservation and education merge at select Teneo member hotels. They offer interactive programs that bring guests in closer contact with nature and wildlife, often as part of a team building effort. Guests of the Garden of the Gods Collection in Colorado Springs can experience the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, learning about the history, biology and conservation of wolves, coyotes, foxes, and the environmental challenges they face. The program, supervised by a trained wolf handler, can end with a group howl, symbolizing oneness with nature and its preservation.
The Garden of the Gods also offers groups a day of discovery at the 200-acre Elk Glade Ranch. Through the science of equine therapy, participants ride horses and drive cattle, gaining courage and confidence.
Part of Montana’s Resort at Paws Up is a working ranch, offering an equestrian program where guests, led by an experienced cowboy, help with an actual cattle drive. These equestrian programs, situated in nature versus a more mechanized or artificial environment, are growing in popularity as team building efforts and exercises in enhanced communication. For non-expert riders, the exercises are held mostly on the ground, and involve approaching, grooming and walking the horses. Thanks to the high sensitivity of horses, participants can quickly learn how their body language, tone of voice and mannerisms impact interactions and team success.
Virtually all species of sea turtles are threatened and Teneo’s member hotels in Florida and the Arabian Gulf are working to preserve these amphibians that are essential to maintaining marine life. Sea turtles are among the few species that eat sea grass and algae that if not consumed, would grow and threaten the entire ecosystem. And, their nests provide nutrients that help to grow the grass that preserves the dunes.
In Vero Beach, Florida, Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa participates in the community’s annual Turtle Dig. During nesting season, hundreds of turtle eggs are laid and are protected by signs and markers until they hatch. Then, the contents of the nests are dug up and evaluated, helping scientists understand how well the beaches are incubating sea turtle nests. In July, the public is invited to watch nests on the hotel’s beach be examined. They receive a presentation about sea turtle biology, threats to their survival, and ways to help protect turtles.
In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts plays a key role in a comprehensive and sophisticated conservation effort, The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project. The project is based at the company’s two Dubai hotels, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah and is run in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office.
The public is encouraged to bring sick and injured turtles to the Wildlife Protection Office or to the Aquarium team at Burj Al Arab. Once the condition of the turtles is determined, they are then transferred to the state-of-the-art Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary at Jumeirah Al Naseem. When the turtles are deemed ready to return, they are released from the Sanctuary into the waters of the Arabian Gulf as part of the Big Jumeirah Turtle Race. Some of the turtles are fitted with satellite tracking devices. So far, the clear winner is a green sea turtle named Dibba who traveled 8,283 kilometers to a spot off the coast of the Southeast Asian Peninsula. Since 2004, over 1,350 rescued sea turtles have been returned to Dubai’s waters.
New Builds Signal Growing Strength of Independent Hotels, New Entrepreneurial Brands, as a Dozen Teneo Member Hotels Open 2017-2018
Construction Trends Span Independent Properties, Leading Brands, Major Markets, Second Tier Cities, Historic Restoration, Contemporary Design
Eden Prairie, MN, October 2017 … New hotel construction in major markets and second tier cities is signaling the growing strength of independent hotels and smaller entrepreneurial brands. The new properties span urban hotels, resorts, historic restorations, and anchors of major redevelopment programs, emerging business districts and dynamic new sports and entertainment complexes. They are breaking new ground in the areas of sustainability, art and architecture, historic preservation, food and beverage service and design, and using modern technology to create new meetings and guest experiences.
“This year and in 2018, we will see more than a dozen new Teneo-member hotels opening in the US, Mexico and Spain,” says Mike Schugt, president of Teneo Hospitality Group, the premier global firm representing 300+ independent and luxury branded hotels, resorts and DMCs. “These innovative and farsighted entrepreneurial efforts are found across the industry spectrum, in independent properties, in newer boutique brands such as Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Solis Hotels & Resorts, 1 Hotels, Heritage Hotels & Resorts, the Sydell Group, and in major-brand players such as Marriott International, Omni Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.”
1. New builds are part of ambitious redevelopment programs. The InterContinental Washington DC – The Wharf is part of a dynamic new hub of hotels, restaurants, office buildings and residences now rising on the banks of the Potomac River. Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta is a cornerstone of the mixed-use area adjacent to SunTrust Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves. At Hartsfield Airport, the recently opened Solis Two Porsche Drive plays a key role in the emerging Atlanta Airport Business District. Frisco, Texas is part of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex where the new Omni Frisco Hotel is the official hotel of the Dallas Cowboys and located in the team’s new Star Headquarters stadium and office complex. The Omni Louisville Hotel, a 610-room luxury hotel, is rising over the city as part of a new development of offices, clubs, restaurants and residences.
2. Hoteliers continue to see the investment potential in historic properties. Two of Teneo’s recently-opened member hotels occupy historic buildings being revamped and reopened. The LINE Hotel, DC will be reborn in an historic church and the NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans, is now open in the city’s former public utilities building, a National Historic Landmark. Notes Mike Schugt, “While renovating these properties and preserving their ambiance is expensive, the individuality and historic significance of these hotels are a strong marketing advantage. And, the construction of these buildings is far more sound than those built more recently, making them an excellent investment.”
3. Interior and exterior designs are breaking new ground and providing a sense of place. Hoteliers realize that cookie-cutter architecture and predictable guestroom interiors are no longer competitive in today’s environment. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge boasts a stunning interior design that pays homage to nature and Brooklyn’s nautical history. With a spectacular $115 million redevelopment underway, the ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach features a spectacular 280,000-gallon oceanarium in the lobby. The Hotel Chaco’s stunning design is inspired by the architecture and ancient Native American civilization of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Located in Albuquerque, the hotel’s interiors are a modern version of the centuries-old pueblos and accented by Native American art and sculpture.
4. Recycled materials enhance construction and design. Recycled materials are being used in both new builds and reconstruction of historic hotels. The new 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge uses recycled local wood and metal to create art and furniture to reinforce the hotel’s nature-inspired design aesthetic. Designers used wood flooring from an old Brooklyn distillery, and artifacts that reflect the legendary borough’s history.
At The LINE Hotel, DC, the wood from the pews in the former church has been used in the lobby and pages from old hymnals have been framed and displayed. NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans began as the city’s public utilities building and its original ironwork, soaring ceilings and majestic windows have been preserved and repurposed.
5. While the farm-to-table trend continues, new restaurant concepts are emerging, including those created by celebrity chefs. ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach boasts two restaurants by celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto. At The LINE Hotel, DC, two award-winning young chefs, Erik Bruner-Yang and Spike Gjerde, are creating three new restaurant concepts, one serving American classics with a Taiwanese twist, one with local Mid-Atlantic fare and another focused on a tasting menu.
6. Hotels are built to create new and unique guest experiences. At the rapidly expanding Atlanta Airport Business District the new Solis Two Porsche Drive overlooks the Porsche Experience Center at Porsche’s North American Headquarters. The Center’s 1.6-mile driver development track is great for teambuilding and just plain fun. Guests can drive with a professional instructor, view cars in the Heritage Gallery, challenge skills in a Simulator Lab and browse in the Porsche Retail Store. Omni Louisville Hotel will include a Speakeasy with a bowling alley and a high-end lifestyle and grocery store. The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando overlooks Lake Austin Nature Preserve where guests can fish, or take to the water aboard a variety of vessels from kayaks to electric boats. In 2018, the resort will open a spectacular Safari Water Park.
7. Local artists and artisans bring a sense of place, history and aesthetics. The Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque features the work of several of New Mexico’s leading Native American artists throughout the hotel, with contemporary painting and sculpture, fabric designs and crafts. In Barcelona, Spain, SOFIA is fresh from a multi-million-dollar renovation with stunning architecture and modern art that reflects the work of Barcelona’s legendary artists, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. The soaring lobby showcases white and gold mobiles in the modern, geometric shapes they favored.
At 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, local artists and artisans have provided original artworks, textiles and sculpture. All of the artwork in the NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans is inspired by transportation themes reflecting the hotel’s original theme as a transit hub and home of New Orleans’s fabled streetcars. At Omni Louisville Hotel, work by local artists reflects the city’s equestrian heritage and will be displayed in the lobby art gallery.
8. An Emphasis on Wellness. Most of the new build properties offer full service spas. The all-inclusive Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos has a 29,000-square foot spa with 25 treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy facility, and a fitness center with personal trainers and numerous exercise classes. Omni Frisco Hotel offers a Dallas Cowboys Fitness Package based on the same exercise programs used by the legendary football team and its cheerleaders. At 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the internationally famous Bamford Haybarn Spa is open, offering holistic treatments and organic products.
Teneo’s Top Venue Trends for Exceptional Meetings & Events in 2017
Eden Prairie, MN, May 2017 … In a world of visual overload, hyper technology and a “been there done that” attitude, meeting and event planners are pressured to find evermore exciting, unique and memorable events that will keep participants enthused and motivated. The old Hollywood adage, “You’re only as good as your last picture,” describes the situation well. Planners are under pressure not just to outdo the competition, but to outdo themselves, and smart venues are responding with super-charged creativity.
“What’s the coolest event you’ve ever done or experienced? This is the burning question that today’s meeting planners first ask when they are selecting a venue,” says Mike Schugt, president of Teneo Hospitality Group, the premier global sales firm representing 300+ independent and luxury branded hotels, resorts and DMCs. “Whatever the answer is, today’s planners seek to top — by far — that ‘cool event’! Why? Because it’s what meeting guests demand. An over-the-top experience engages guests in a way that promotes learning retention.”
As a hospitality sales and marketing firm, Teneo’s job is to help planners find venues that can provide a meeting experience that is productive, exclusive and exceptional. With independent luxury hotels and resorts and value-based DMCs in its portfolio, Teneo’s sales team is committed to showcasing the creativity, flexibility and authenticity that independent properties offer in a tech-driven and homogenous environment.
Top Venue Observations for Exceptional Meetings & Events in 2017
#1 Venues must be all things to all people.
Whether they are well-traveled, sophisticated and seasoned executives or up-and-coming millennials, attendees of all ages today demand an experiential and interactive learning process that offers a complete immersion into a destination, a venue, and the meeting content. No exceptions!
#2 Beyond the Golf Course – Spectacular Sports.
While legendary golf courses continue to be played by meeting guests, increasingly it’s action adventure that attendees are requesting and demanding. Real meeting examples include skiing on Olympic slopes, ice wall climbing, dog sledding in the winter season, and saddling up for a cattle drive and rock rappelling in the summer.
#3 Cultural Authenticity Matters.
Cultural authenticity is essential to providing a genuine travel and meeting experience, and independent hotels and DMCs are perfectly positioned to offer this. “We represent venues and destinations that offer a true sense of place, a vibrant culture and a flexible, creative atmosphere where ideas can take flight,” Mike Schugt says. For example, Teneo’s DMCs can arrange a private reception at The Tower of London to view the British Crown Jewels, a shooting party in the Scottish Highlands followed by a whisky tasting at a campus distillery, a dinner on the Great Wall of China, a lavish reception inside Beijing’s Forbidden City, or closer to home a chance to sample Charleston’s fabled cuisine at a food truck rodeo then explore the Low Country’s unique African-American Gullah culture. Several landmark Teneo hotels offer a deep dive into history with 21st Century meeting guests communing with legions of legendary guests from the past. “It’s more than creating team memories,” says Schugt, “although this is important. It’s providing team camaraderie in a highly unique setting that help instill connections and learning.”
Flexibility is essential to creating a memorable meeting, and independent hotels tend to have a much wider scope in what they can provide as they’re less tethered to brand corporate policies. “Planners today need to respond to rapidly changing preferences of their increasingly younger meeting attendees,” said Schugt. “What’s discussed six months out can morph into an entirely different event closer to the meeting date. Hotels and resorts and planners need to remain flexible to the increasingly spontaneous and in-the-moment preferences of today’s attendees.”
#5 The Art of the Unusual.
We’ve all heard of events in art museums, Broadway theaters or on the beach. These are terrific venues for memorable gatherings. But how about taking over a parking garage with multiple levels for a myriad of activities, or decorating a ballroom with living walls to drive home a message of sustainability to a group gathering, or renting a pier over the ocean and hosting a corporate meeting while reflecting on global warming. “This is using the art of the unusual to create powerful connections and memories. It’s a genuine, thoughtful investment in one’s team,” says Schugt.
The demand for “green” hotels and meeting experiences has grown far beyond providing organic bath products and water-saving devices. Today’s guests insist on comprehensive efforts that impact every aspect of the meeting experience – not just in the venue but on the grounds, recreational areas, surrounding beaches, woodlands, campgrounds and ski slopes. “Many of our member hotels go well beyond the eco-friendly practices that have been implemented by the lodging industry in recent years,” Mike Schugt notes. “We see practices from catch and release fishing programs to Tesla Superchargers, and of course, locally sourced food that goes from farm to table.” Schugt also sees a more relaxed atmosphere in terms of service because of the farm to table movement. “The emphasis now for events, and venues that host them, is on sourcing and healthy eating, rather than formal service.”
Venues are using their facilities for corporate and social groups to create memorable fitness and wellness programs. This can include yoga or Tai Chi on the beach, personal trainers, hikes, bike tours of city landmarks, group runs led by hotel staff and free loan of workout clothes and shoes. Some provide in-room equipment such as yoga mats and exercise bikes as well as a range of fitness apps and videos. “Like so many trends, this is millennial-driven,” says Mike Schugt. “Hotel and resort fitness centers today are far more sophisticated and interactive with a dedicated staff on duty.”
#8 Confidence & Consistency.
Events are not just for fun. They are team developers, helping unite and bond a group either leading into a meeting or hosted at its conclusion. “If you’ve ever planned a special event, or were responsible for its success, you’ll understand this,” said Schugt. “It’s always been a given that venues play a huge role in the confidence that a planner has for an event to be a resounding success. But as budgets tighten, and ROI is paramount in the minds of every client, confidence in the meeting and special event team to deliver, and the hotel with its destination’s unique ability to create a transformational experience for attendees, has never been more important.”
Teneo Hospitality Group Launches Nationwide Meeting Planner and Hotelier Networking & Charity Events, Assisting Homeless in 14 Cities
NEW YORK, NY, March 2017 … Teneo Hospitality Group launched the first of several planned 2017 networking and charity programs with an interactive event at Manhattan’s swanky Second Floor venue. The gathering, to benefit the New York Rescue Mission, was attended by 100 meeting planners from the Northeast and representatives of 58 hotels and destinations from across the US and internationally. Teneo’s networking programs, held across the United States and in Latin America, provide members with a unique opportunity to showcase their products and services, enjoy great food and entertainment, while aiding a local charity. Teneo will host similar gatherings in 13 other cities during the year, each benefiting a local charitable organization supporting the homeless.
At the New York event, meeting planners were given Teneo tote bags to fill. Then, they visited each of the 58 tables where they connected with a hotelier or destination management company (DMC) who added an item to each bag. Each tote bag contained 58 items that could be useful to the homeless, including socks, dental floss, eye drops, hand cream, feminine products, toothbrushes, umbrellas, blankets, Band-Aids, snacks and a number of other necessity items. Over 160 bags were filled and donated to the NYC Rescue Mission.
Teneo developed the innovative program last year as a key part of its business model. “Our business is built on developing strong relationships between meeting planners and the hotels and DMC members who serve them,” says Teneo President Mike Schugt. “Our charitable outreach utilizes these interactive gatherings to give back by supporting the organizations servicing the homeless in their city.” He also noted that the problem of homelessness continues to grow, affecting a broad spectrum of the population, including families, women, children, veterans and those suffering from substance abuse and mental illness.
Since launching the program last year, Teneo has hosted nine events in various US cities, plus the company’s annual Summit in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Teneo chooses a different charitable focus each year. In 2016, the company’s outreach benefited at risk children in numerous US cities. Charities included Covenant House, Special Olympics and several local shelters and clothing programs for children in need. Participants filled backpacks with school supplies, toiletries and sneakers.
The innovative charitable aspect of the evening was new to many and greeted with appreciation. Noted Tiru Irani, president of Far Horizons, a luxury group travel company, “It was very thoughtful of Teneo to include the charity component to this event. I was touched and very impressed by this kind gesture.”
Teneo Hospitality Group brought its imaginative networking while giving concept to Manhattan with a major event attended by over 160 meeting planners, hoteliers and destination management companies. Meeting planners were given Teneo tote bags to fill, then visited each table where they connected with a hotelier or DMC who then added an item to each bag. Each bag contained 58 practical items, including dental floss, hand cream, feminine products, toothbrushes, umbrellas, blankets, Band-Aids, razors, snacks and socks designed especially for the homeless. Over 160 bags were filled and taken to the NYC Rescue Mission.