ASPEN, COLO.—The COVID-19 crisis has been profoundly disruptive for the hospitality industry, so it’s not the time one would imagine a resort would be enhancing its focus on sustainability and environmental initiatives.
But the Aspen Meadows Resort isn’t a typical hotel.
As the original home to The Aspen Institute—which gathers leaders, scholars, and others to address some of the world’s most complex problems, including climate change—the Meadows is able to leverage the Institute’s guidance to operate more harmoniously with nature.
The Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program and its Green Team, a volunteer committee focused on implementing sustainability initiatives within the Aspen Institute, have already exhausted much of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to reducing the resort’s environmental impact, including ensuring a robust recycling program and adhering to the principles of the Slow Food movement with a focus on sustainable and local ingredients. In addition, the hotel’s main conference facility was designed and built with the environment in mind and is LEED Gold certified.
“Now, we’re broadening those strokes and lowering our carbon footprint as a whole by switching to using 100 percent clean electricity for our resort campus,” explains Vice President for Aspen Campus Facilities and Operations Richard Stettner. “We know that the climate crisis will not wait for a more convenient time, so it’s imperative that we move forward in making changes that will benefit our employees, guests, community, and planet by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Clean Energy Generated in Colorado
The resort worked with its energy provider, Holy Cross Energy, to purchase 100 percent clean electricity including wind, solar, and hydro generated in Colorado.
The renewable energy switch is part of a more sweeping plan to work towards carbon neutrality for resort operations and Aspen Institute/Meadows staff travel. In addition to the renewable electricity transition, the resort is replacing all plastic water bottles with reusable options (which are cleaned and sanitized between use), as well as removing all single-use plastics from guestrooms.
The resort reopened to welcome guests on June 1 and is currently following Pitkin County guidelines for no more than 50 percent capacity for both guestrooms and restaurants. (Plato’s Restaurant and patio is currently serving a limited menu throughout the day for dine-in service and on the patio. Takeaway items are available using only compostable and recyclable materials.)
The Meadows is typically booked throughout the summer with Aspen Institute programming, including the Aspen Ideas Festival, which has been canceled for 2020. The cancellation of these large groups has opened a unique opportunity for budget-focused leisure travelers to visit the resort, particularly with a popular Colorado Locals’ Rates from $107/night. The resort has also moved to a new 24-hour cancellation policy to accommodate changing travel plans and restrictions.