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Is It Time For Hotels To Become Green And Environmental?

Best Western Plus in Kamloops is a certified eco-friendly hotel. Image courtesy of bestwestern.com

Best Western Plus in Kamloops is a certified eco-friendly hotel. Image courtesy of bestwestern.com

An excellent hotel stay used to be characterized by overindulgent buffet, luxurious Olympic-size pools and sauna bath, and luxurious mini-bars. However, is there evidence to suggest that business travelers are starting to look for healthy breakfasts, yoga classes, topnotch gym facilities, and an overall environmentally friendly energy policy?

In the midst of commercial properties adapting to the demand for venues to be more environmentally aware and health conscious, these venues are slowly starting to adjust to people’s adjusting needs.

According to Gary Diedrichs from Green Traveler Guides, a number of urban hotels are taking concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprints. However, these are not obvious all at once to business travelers. As it is, the clamor to publicize these environmental efforts is not loud enough just yet.

According to a survey of 1,000 business travelers last 2008, 95% of the respondents believe that the hospitality industry should start taking green initiatives seriously. 38% said that they thought hotels are already doing this.

More recently, in the 2012 Canadian Travel Intentions Survey among business travelers, it was found that 42% of respondents indicated that green practices such as energy efficiency and recycling are important in choosing a hotel. That’s a 5% increase from last year. The same number of respondents also said they were willing to pay at least $1 more to even out their carbon footprint during their stay in the property.

In last year’s World Travel Market, it was sustained that hotels need to be sustainably designed. Measures must be in place to save energy and conserve waste.

Diedrichs also enumerated the number of ways by which a hotel can reduce their guests’ carbon footprint and promote environmentally conscious practices.  Some of these include washing out chemicals that leave toxic residue, using organic food in the restaurant, and integrating the plan in the overall management strategy.

Indeed, the attitudes are slowly but surely changing towards the green standard. The only question remains: is your hotel ready for it?

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Rapid Fire Questions With Vikram Vij


Vikram Vij is a Vancouver based chef and a successful restaurateur. He is also the co-author, with his wife, of two cookbooks, Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine and Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey. Vij also made an appearance as a guest judge in the first season of Top Chef Canada. Today, he answers Geraldine Gracia’s rapid fire questions.{ NOTE: bio info found from http://www.foodnetwork.ca/guides/OpenKitchen/gallery.aspx?id=50235 }

What are five must have items in a kitchen?

Bottle of good wine, bottle of good olive oil (Domenica Fiore), local season vegetables, frolicky attitude, good quality cheese and crackers from Lesley Stowe.

Last great dinner out you had was at?

Richmond Station Restaurant in Toronto

What is your guilty pleasure?

Homemade charcuterie and cheese from Granville Island

What famous person alive or dead would you love to dine with?

Gandhi…I would even give up a glass of wine to be in his presence and thank him for my freedom.

Your favourite home cooked meal?

Butter chicken schnitzel  - I make with my daughters and tell them about the stories of my chef school days. They find it so funny that I was a very naughty chef.

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Labour Cost Versus Profit




Running a restaurant is hard work and the management of food and beverage and labour can determine the success or failure of your establishment.

There are a few simple ways to make your business a great success such as keeping records of previous sales and effectively training the right staff. You can find out more here.

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Richtree Opens (Or Re-opens, Depending On Who You Ask) New Eaton Centre Location


Photo courtesy of Michael Rizzo

Richtree Market celebrated their grand opening at Eaton Centre this week, revealing a high tech 20,000 square foot market place. It offers eleven food stations featuring organic locally sourced foods, a kid’s area with the main feature being a video wall and even a hologram hostess – aptly named Mrs. Green – to greet guests as they enter.

If you have visited a Richtree location before, you are aware of their card-swipe payment system that collects data on what you have ordered at any of the food stations. This location, however, now offers this service through your mobile phone.

Richtree’s catch phrase is, “where good comes together,” and they have obviously kept that motto in mind while creating their newest market place. While many are applauding Richtree’s cutting edge technology and healthy, organic food options, not everyone is celebrating, however. In fact, many people say this is not a grand opening at all; it is actually a grand re-opening in disguise. If you don’t know the facts, you may be thinking that the disconnect here is simply semantics; why should we care if it is an opening or a re-opening? TomEHto, TomAHto. But here’s the deal:

Fifty Richtree employees (all unionized) were laid off when the original Eaton Centre location shut down. When the new location opened this week, not one of the workers was rehired. Instead, the corporate opted for new, non-unionized employees. The union, Local 75, claims that this is an obvious and alarming labour law violation. Employees were not given any wind that there would be a re-opening of Richtree in virtually the same location (south side of Eaton Centre, lower level).  Richtree representatives believe that employees were terminated in a fair manner.

Labour laws are very clear in stating that a company cannot temporarily close shop to do away with their relationship with a union. They are, however, allowed to sever that relationship if they are permanently shutting down. Former Richtree employees are filing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations board, so I assume this will be sorted out in due course. In the meantime, what are your thoughts and opinions on this situation?  Is Richtree a location where the good comes together to eat or to picket?

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The “Grand Re-Opening” Of The Mohawk Inn And Conference Centre – In Pictures

This August, to show off the new face of the property, The Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre invited the community to join in for their “Grand Re-Opening”.  We thoroughly enjoyed the event (see our main article) and wanted to share some pictures of the ‘new’ facility.

The front patio and main entrance have a fresh, new look.

Front Patio credited

The Inn hasn’t forgotten its roots though; the new reception area features a metal racehorse sculpture – a reminder that the Mohawk raceway is home to some spectacular horse races.

front desk horse credited

Guest rooms have been upgraded and redecorated, in keeping with that great “at the cottage” feel.

Guest Room Inn credited

The ‘Treehouse’ was always a very cool retreat, but it’s been made even better with room upgrades and landscaping that fosters the sense of privacy.

Treehouse front credited

Recently they’ve added some new offices, giving this fast-growing neighbourhood additional short and long-term options for housing their business.

office facing door credited

The existing meeting and conference spaces work nicely for business or social functions.

Escarpment Room credited

Over the years many wedding receptions have been held here – the tradition continues beautifully in the ‘new’ room.

Conservation Hall credited

My favourite spot has got to be the patio.  Sunshine and cocktails, anyone?

The Mohawk Inn and Conference Centre’s party was a real hit and the perfect way to share the properties changes with the community.  A good time was had by all – and there was cake…

Grand Opening Cake credited

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Rapid Fire Questions With Roger Mooking


Roger Mooking is a celebrity chef, currently the host of Man Fire Food on the Cooking Channel.  He is also the host and co-creator of Everyday Exotic and Heat Seekers, which can both be found on Food Network Canada.  He gets straight to the point when Geraldine Gracia asks him five quick questions:

1) What are 5 must have items in a kitchen?
Spice Grinder. Kosher Salt. Cast Iron Pan. Tawa. Mortar and Pestle.

2) Last great dinner out you had was at?
Sway in Austin Texas.

3) Name your guilty pleasure food?
Pringles (the red box only).

4) What famous person alive or dead would you love to dine with?
Bob Marley.

5) Your favourite home cooked meal is?
Hard boiled egg with Soy Sauce. Simple and delish.

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Integrating Hotel Reviews In Your Website: A Suicide Mission Or A Positive Hotel Trend?

Photos of BEST WESTERN PLUS Travel Hotel Toronto Airport, Toronto

Photo Courtesy of TripAdvisor

A visit to the Best Western Hotel’s site might surprise hoteliers a little. In its website are customer reviews, both good and bad, from TripAdvisor.com. One striking review says: “Very poor quality, will never stay here again.”
While most hoteliers will agree that this is practically suicide for the hotel, there’s unquestionable value in a hotel posting reviews both good and bad in its website. In fact, similar hotels like Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Wyndham Hotel Group have already followed suit.
1. It gives you a chance to respond to the hotel reviews.
While some review sites allow hoteliers to comment on the reviews, the process can be somewhat tedious. By integrating these reviews in your site, you can respond to potentially destructive comments. Just make sure you set the right tone and to avoid being defensive!
2. You can show updates and commitment to the changes.
Aside from the space to respond to these reviews, you can also use the space to update guests on the changes that you have made.
3. It will increase your hotel’s trustworthiness.
Posting guest comments found in other review sites in your website will no doubt increase your trustworthiness capital. At the end of the day, guests will want to stay in a hotel that they can trust to take care of them. By sifting through both negative and positive reviews—and learning what the management has to say about the negative ones—will give guests a fuller understanding of the hotel operations. Ultimately, this increases the chances that they will book a room.
4. Guests will find them out anyway.
In one way or another, the guests are going to look for hotel reviews and find out the same poor reviews in hotel review websites. Inside of sweeping them under the rug, hotels might as well recognize their existence and spin negative reviews to their benefit!


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