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Responsible hospitality: a room and a cause

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These days the seasoned and savvy traveler is looking for more than simply four walls and a place to lay one’s head. Increasingly, guests are looking both inward and outward for ways to connect with their surroundings, even if they may be temporary.
Enter these five Design Hotels™ members, where teams that run the gamut from architects and engineers to farmers and craftsmen are taking coordinated actions to bring about social and environmental change, thus raising the hospitality bar.
rocksresort, Laax, Switzerland
Using good design as his guiding principle, Original Reto Gurtner of the 122-room rockresort has created a zero waste mountainside retreat born of the mantra reduce, recycle and reclaim. Put another way, LAAX is quite possibly the most sustainable ski resort in the world. The entire mountain is powered by hydroelectricity, biomass heating used throughout, and solar-paneled lift stations are built from local wood, designed to be completely disassembled. The winter season of 2015/16 will see the 30-year-old chairlift replaced, and profits from the sales of the old chairs going to the project “Energie ohne Grenzen” – an aid organization helping the victims of the earthquakes in Nepal. www.designhotels.com/rocksresort
Humble House Taipei, Taiwan
Located on the top floors of a LEED Diamond-rated Green Building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), in the heart of Xinyi, the mission at Humble House Taipei is a subtly noble one: give back to society. Through thoughtful design and actionable measures, the team behind the 235-room glass and aluminum skyscraper have managed just that. With water and energy conversation paramount to this conversation, the hotel has implemented systems to cut down usage, bringing guests on board with their recycling and linen reuse programs. Crowning the efforts, the Sky Garden is a rare urban oasis where plant species were chosen to encourage biodiversity and help to reduce air impurities. www.designhotels.com/humble-house-taipei
AnaYela, Marrakech, Morocco
A sensitive touch at AnaYela — both spiritually and environmentally speaking — brought the five-room riad in the heady heartland of Marrakech to life. Restoration of the 300-year-old city palace was carried out by hand – without use of electric tools, by more than 100 Moroccan artisans. With the support and preservation of traditional craftsmanship at the forefront, Andrea Kolb, set out to create experiences ‘that truly touch people.’ In a bid to improve access to education through fair working wages, Kolb has connected young international designers with local craftspeople, giving them global exposure and a successfully sustainable model whereby 50% of profits are reinvested into the community. www.designhotels.com/anayela
Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort, Kitzbühel, Austria
An elegant 172-room mountain retreat, Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort lets guests savor the essence of Austrian alpine living, while its commitment to a gentle environmental impact and community integration runs from spa to table. Not only does the building itself boast a solar heated pool, but a spa program with products from the organic line Just Pure means a responsible approach to mind and body as well. Additionally, for the milk on its breakfast tables, the resort is committed to a single-family settlement that sustains itself traditionally by attending to just six cows. The farm processes its milk the old-fashioned way, and far from being obsolete, its small-scale organic farming methods seem to be the very key to its success. www.designhotels.com/hotel-kitzhof-mountain-resort
Crosby Street Hotel, New York, USA
With the helping hand of Stonehill & Taylor Architects, Crosby Street Hotel earned its creed as the very first hotel in New York awarded Gold LEED standard by the US Green Building Council. Combined initiatives include energy efficient lighting, a stringent recycling program and the preservation of native plant life with a second floor wild woodland meadow. Most remarkable, however, is the 86-room hotel’s rooftop garden. On a previously unused space on the 12th floor, the organic kitchen garden is an urban vegetable patch managed by the hotel’s head chef Anthony Paris, supplying Crosby Street Hotel with fresh seasonal produce such as melons, blueberries, tomatoes and herbs. Four Araucana chickens call a Tudor style chicken coop home, and have quickly earned celebrity status with guests and SoHo locals alike. www.designhotels.com/crosby-street-hotel

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