Hotel, inn, and guest lodging managers, take note: the green movement is not just a fad. It is here, for the long haul. Aside from more obvious, visible upgrades made to conserve water and energy via low-water shower heads, toilets, and LED lighting—all of which has been adequately written about in-depth—there are a few less commonly implemented changes that can be made. The American Hotel & Lodging Association also has a very helpful Green Resource Center with lots of ideas about how to get started with ‘greening’ your property.
The changes I’m going to suggest involve live, growing, literally-green things that can make a big difference to the quality of your guests’ stay and their investment in your property, making them more likely to want to return for additional stays, in the future. And because plants are involved, they’re likely to lower your stress level, as well! Without further ado, here are three plant-related changes you can make that add both value and enjoyment to your guests’ stay.
- Implement low-water & native plants in your landscaping design!
The same principle involved with the Farm-to-Table movement can apply to plants and trees used in landscaping: are the plants you’re using to decorate and beautify your property native to the area, or is the ground cover too water-thirsty for its own good? Implementing native plants doesn’t have to mean xeriscaping, if your property is located in a desert ecosystem like that of Arizona. However, there are a wide variety of drought-tolerant ground cover plants such as elven thyme, aster, and sedum.
In addition to spreading groundcover plants, consider incorporating a rock garden into your landscape. Not only do rocks add beauty and variety to a garden space, but they also can provide a fun place to sit and picnic beneath a tree. Many shrub-like plants like to grow around rocks, and lizards like to hide beneath them—always popular with the kids. Lichens and herbs also do well in rock gardens. Best of all, they require no water in order to thrive! Make a trip to a local nursery that specializes in native plants and talking to someone who works there about their advice for easy-to-grow plants for beginners, if this is your first experience with groundcover-type plants. Staff members will also be able to let you know which plants tend to be more low-maintenance, if time is a concern.
- Plant a garden!
An important component of eco-friendly living that can be overlooked among all the organic produce shipped in from New Zealand and Argentina is the transportation factor: that is, how far did a food item travel in order to arrive at your table? Considering the impact that fossil fuel emissions have on air quality and the environment, the more locally sourced your food, the better. How much more local can you get than on your property? This attention to locally sourced produce is a vital component of the Buy Local movement, as well as the Farm-to-Table movement in eco-friendly restaurants, these days.
Depending on how urban the type of property you own or manage may be, a vegetable garden may not be an option. However, consider implementing a garden—perhaps even a roof-top garden—for your property, even if you don’t have an in-house restaurant. Organic restaurant gardens are growing in popularity and add value to the price of menu items, to boot! However, besides the obvious benefit to an in-house restaurant, how about the idea of adding community and an active, environmentally-friendly experience to your guests’ overnight or weekend visits? Guests will be very appreciative of being able to pick ingredients for and make their own salad!
Not only does a garden encourage visitors to extend their stay or return for a follow-up visit, due to their investment in the community and property, but it also provides stress relief and an active way for guests to participate in the green movement—as opposed to passive involvement such as using a low-water shower head or turning on an LED-powered nightlight. When a guest consciously chooses to participate, she will be more likely to remember her choice, as well as more likely to remember staying in your accommodations—as opposed to the inn up the street.
- Lastly, bring a few plants indoors!
How is the air quality in your guest rooms? Air quality is guaranteed to improve with the addition of a house plant on a nightstand or dresser. Not only do plants improve the quality of the air by emitting oxygen and absorbing CO2, but they have been shown to decrease stress levels and improve mood. Apart from the health benefits of plants, there’s also their aesthetic contribution to a room, which again goes a long way toward improving mood, as well as their ability to absorb sound. The latter benefit is good to keep in mind in larger guest rooms with more than one bed. Try putting a small, ornamental tree between the two beds, for example. What a great idea for guests cohabiting with a snorer while trying to recover from a long trip, to boot!
In conclusion, plants can only help your business. So, without further ado, get thee to a nursery!
Bio: Rodrick Johnson enjoys gardening in his back yard, bouldering, reading, and writing, whenever possible.