Hotel car fleets go green
The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina, has a Li-Ion Motors all-electric Inizio Supercar on display.
Times have changed since the 1970s, when the venerable Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong invested in a fleet of Rolls-Royce Silver Clouds painted a dark moss colour known as “Peninsula Green”.
Many other top hotels around the world followed suit, maintaining fleets of cars to ferry guests to and from airports, train stations, business meetings and shopping excursions. While most cars come with drivers, some hotels rent them to guests.
Hong Kong’s Peninsula freshened its fleet in 2007, when the hotel purchased 14 Roll-Royce Phantoms — the largest single order of Phantoms ever made. But with a growing focus on sustainability, hotel fleets around the world are getting a different kind of green makeover.
At many Peninsula Hotels (Chicago, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo), all eyes are now on a new fleet of super luxe (and super cute), petrol-sipping, custom-made Mini Coopers that complement the hotels’ traditional chauffeured fleets. The cars include a rooftop box for luggage, a mini-fridge (stocked with cold towels), iPod docking stations and leather seats. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that BMW, the company that makes the Mini, is also the owner of Rolls Royce.
Earlier this month, the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco began renting out new Nissan LEAF electric cars for $85 per day. The Nissan EVs (electric vehicles) use no gasoline, can travel about 70 miles on a single charge, and the hotel provides its own (free) charging station on site. The hotel concierge said the cars are great for tooling around town, but there is not enough power to get to wine country or to Yosemite and back.
In Switzerland, the posh La Reserve Geneve Hotel recently acquired a fleet of five Tesla Roadsters — known as the world’s fastest electric sports cars. The Roadsters have a range of about 200 miles, so renters can cruise quietly (all electric means no revving, no exhaust) through the Alps or along the shores of Lake Geneva.
Earlier this year, the LEED Gold certified Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina installed a plug-in charging station for guests driving electric vehicles. While there are few electric cars cruising around Charlotte, the hotel has a few all-electric sports car on display from Li-Ion Motors. This green-focused hotel also produces the honey used in its tea service from beehives located on its roof.
While the introduction of electric cars is still in its infancy, it’s good to see some hotels making such cutting edge efforts to be sustainable. What about you? Would you take an electric car out for a spin? Please leave your comments on our Facebook page.
Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel