Monty, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort’s resident desert tortoise is fast asleep in his burrow for the winter, but his mere presence at the posh property helped propel it to prominence in “green” circles.
In fact, the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association bestowed a “Good Earthkeeping Award” on the Fairmont and its Green Team for adopting Monty and helping educate guests — and employees — about the threatened species.
And for dozens of other programs aimed at saving energy and the environment.
They include large-scale initiatives like recycling just about everything, changing the landscaping to feature less thirsty greenery and converting golf carts from gas to electricity, said Jennifer Franklin, Fairmont spokeswoman.
And less noticeable programs such as adding refrigerator door-like sensors to light back-of-the-house locations like the housekeeping closets. The sensors turn the lights on when the door is open and off when its closed, rather than rely on employees with arms full of linens to flip a switch.
“When you are a property this size, little things make a big difference,” Franklin said.
Another little saving that mounts up came about by consolidating the check-out documents to eliminate two pieces of paper, she said. With 651 rooms to keep track of, it saves a lot of paper over time.
Speaking of saving, the hotel recycles paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and plastic, Franklin said. This year, the Fairmont recycled an average 18 tons of waste a month, she said.
The reusables are sorted by staff, Franklin said, but the Fairmont recently placed recycle bins around the Willow Stream Spa, where all food and beverage containers are plastic, so guests can do their part, too.
“If people have an option, they like to recycle,” she said.
In fact, the Fairmont promotes several conservation and education programs, which have been well accepted by guests, said Brad Campbell, landscaping supervisor and chairman of the hotel’s all-volunteer Green Team.
Campbell helped design the property’s eco-tour, which spotlights desert flora and fauna and ends up at Monty’s habitat.
Making a home for a displaced desert tortoise — once in captivity, they can’t be released back to the wild, Campbell said — was in the back of his mind for years. He wants to tell the story of how development has encroached on their natural habitat and how those who come upon one in the wild should react: “Leave them alone,“ he said.
The Fairmont also tunes in guests and employees to the needs of the desert by adopting a mile of highway, promoting guided hikes and other programs with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, and offering group talks and presentations by Adobe Mountain Wildlife, a rescue and rehabilitation center.
Many visitors come to Arizona for the first time to attend a meeting, but they don’t get enough free time to leave the property, so the Fairmont brings the desert to them, Franklin said.
“They love it, and they take home a unique Arizona experience,” she said.
Campbell said his team is pursuing a lot more ideas for saving resources. Among them, finding suppliers whose products “are not overly packaged,” and trying to use more recycled products, such as the paper his trail map is printed on.
The Fairmont chain has been committed to conservation for decades, with formal programs in place since 1990, but each hotel gets to design its own initiatives, Franklin said.