HD Talks

Doing It…and Doing It Well

Posted by on May 18, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Posted by Tara Mastrelli


Welcome to HD Talks…Hospitality Design magazine's spot for people, products, projects, and places that matter. We, the editors, are going to do our best to keep you informed on a real time basis, but sometimes, we just can't be in two places at once. Case in point: you may have already read full coverage on our Green Day conference or our Hospitality Design Exposition & Conference (HD Expo) on numerous other industry sites. Glenn Hasek at Green Lodging News already has posted a nice synopsis of Green Day, and if you weren't able to make it to Vegas, you can check it out there (thanks Glenn!). I for one had to recover from running the day, so a slight delay, and a different perspective in coverage. At HD our No. 1 priority is to participate in our industry, to bring people together, to not only cover the latest trends, but to partner with designers, architects, owners, purchasers, and manufacturers to help create them. So enough explanation, on to Green Day.

We kicked off the day with Jake Kheel, environmental director at Puntacana Resort & Club in the Domincan Republic. I had the good fortune of meeting Jake while checking out their newest luxury property, Tortuga Bay, designed by Oscar de la Renta. This is a place that really gets it. They have 10 percent of their 15,000-acre-property set aside as a reserve, they built the airport and the school and have literally become the foundation of the community. I named Jake's panel "creating green cache without charismatic mega-fauna" partially as a joke based on something he said while taking us around their ecological foundation about getting publicity while working with bees and bugs rather than elephants, whales, and monkeys (charismatic mega-fauna), but he liked it, and it actually captured his ideas on how to get corporate buy-in for sustainability initiatives.   

After Jake we moved on to "greening the brand", a session featuring Chris Jones, senior vice president of development and construction, NYLO; Brigitta Witt, vice president, Environmental Affairs, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts; and Brian McGuinness, senior vice president, element hotels. Each had a completely different approach, and unique challenges, which made for an interesting discussion on everything from waste management, to LEED certification, and finally adopting practices like key-card activated lights and a/c that have been in Europe forever.

At the luncheon we heard about a little project called CityCenter, from MGM MIRAGE execs Cindy Ortega, senior vice president, Energy and Environmental Services, and Bill Smith, president, MGM MIRAGE Design Group (pictured), and then off to possible informational overload as we took a serious look at third-party product certification. Special thanks to Heather Gadonniex, LEED AP, co-founder, Green it Group, and Kim Gordon, LEED AP, director, TODLgreen, for doing the bulk of the work in putting this session together. Dr. Marilyn Black, founder, GREENGUARD; Susan Hollingshead, community development, B Lab; and Stowe Hartridge-Beam,
manager of indoor air quality, Scientific Certification Systems, discussed why you can't buy a green product from a brown company, why green products aren't always healthy, and how you can make sure a certifying company is above board.

Finally, a little session I like to call "bonsai!"…so named because I wanted to get these three speakers to Vegas and had no way to tie them together, so I didn't. Kim Slicklein, founder/CEO, Enclave Rising LLC; founder/CEO Ethos Resorts and Spas (who wanted to say "leed schmede" but found a less controversial way to get her passion about zero-net carbon across); Greg Reitz, principal, REthink Development Corp. (who brilliantly managed to work in some vacation photos into a presentation about LEED EB); and Richard Moreta Castillo, principal, GMZ-Design (who showed some seriously cool renderings that may have been lost on the audience due to music, a brief interlude in Spanish, and the fact that he was the only thing standing between them and organic wine next door).

Thanks to everyone who attended, presented, sponsored, and yes, covered Green Day. As I said in Vegas, we'll have accomplished our goals when we no longer need a green day, when sustainability becomes fully integrated into design and operations, and doing the wrong thing is no longer an option. Until then, see you next year!


  1. I don't know if you guys have seen this yet, but at Target, their brand of goldfish are chickadees! They are so cute and PERFECT for Spring. Anyway, I had to tell ya just in case you hadn't seen them yet! Happy Easter!