I’m coming to the conclusion pretty fast that just about every hotel will eventually be walking the talk when it comes to going green – though some are walking slowly while others are galloping as if there isn’t a minute to waste. While ecotourism continues to grow internationally, more American companies are grasping that going green can save some green too, which is also a point I make in ECOpreneuring.
A recent trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (to enter a few food items in our Wisconsin State Fair) found my family and I bedding down at the Hotel Metro, a boutique, high-rise luxury 63 room hotel that features numerous green aspects, from energy efficient lighting to a rooftop hot tub spa kept clean by using a salt-water system, rather than chlorine. Metro Hotel is the first Milwaukee hotel to be certified by Travel Green Wisconsin, racking up 67 points in total.
“Ever since Hotel Metro became a hotel in 1998, the owners, Jamie Hummert, John Ogden and John Wolter, were very environmentally conscience,” explains Allison Geschke, Hotel Metro’s Executive Assistant. “The wood veneers in the rooms and public areas as well as the bamboo flooring throughout the hotel are sustainable forest products. The bedding, window treatments, and lampshades in the rooms are made from recycled materials or organic. It has always been important to them, even before being green became a trend.” The owners, working with designer Madame Kuony, wanted to feature various sustainable design elements like the flooring in the lobby made from bamboo or cork. All the desks, headboards and countertops in the rooms are made from pommele sustainable wood veneer.
“We don’t pay for the true cost of energy, with coal emissions and other associated pollution,” says Hummert, who commissioned a site assessment of the property to determine if a solar electric or solar thermal system were possible (unfortunately, they were not due to other buildings towering around them). Energy conservation and efficiency, though, is omnipresent in Hotel Metro, from lighting to the sensor-controlled thermostats in each room.
“I’d love to do a greywater recycling system in the future.” For now, though, Hotel Metro has three rain barrels on the roof (with more planned) that collect water to irrigate plants and refresh the water in their water garden at the spectacular bar, Zen on 7, also on the roof. Zen on 7: What a place to meditate — to the sounds of trickling water and a breeze rolling in off Lake Michigan – or sip a martini with friends after a day in the city.
On the first floor, their Metro Bar and Cafe features a contemporary and creative take on American cuisine from Chef Jerry Garcia, with ingredients that are about 65 percent local and 75 percent organic, some gathered from the West Allis Farmers’ Market. Savor their mushroom ravioli, featuring a portabella mushroom, mozzarella and parmesan stuffed ravioli that’s presented with sautéed baby spinach and sun dried tomatoes with beurre blanc sauce, or feast on their eggplant Napoleon. For the non-vegetarians, they’re known for their sustainable fish and meats, too.
“With chefs, it’s hustle and bustle every day and we often don’t have time to step back and really think about where the food is coming from. It’s time we do that,” Garcia says. “When I put my menu together, I really focused on local, organic and all-natural foods with an emphasis on fish caught in a sustainable manner. Our trout is from a local, all-natural fish farm and we offer organic and sustainable steelhead salmon from British Columbia. I won’t even bring tuna in-house because dolphins are snared in nets with the way most of the world catches that fish.”
As for getting around town, ditch the car and forget about the taxi for this centrally located hotel and head out with one of their complimentary bicycles. And if it’s raining or snowing, hail Hotel Metro’s own diesel taxi cab, fueled with a biodiesel blend.
Photography: Courtesy of Hotel Metro