Randy Nottle is the general manager of Greenstay Hotel & Suites, the brainchild of hotelier Gordon Elliott, who wanted to provide a more environmentally friendly option for travelers when he bought the former Hampton Inn at Chestnut Expressway and U.S. Highway 65 in 2009. Elliott asked Nottle to manage the hotel months after opening, and he has reduced waste by more than 30 percent during his tenure. Nottle recently led the installation of four car-charging stations for electric vehicles.Q: How did the idea for the car chargers come about, and what sort of feedback have you received?
A: Mr. Elliott, the owner of the property, heard about it coming in other “green” hotels, and he thought he’d give it a shot here. We have four stations out there, and they are free for guest use. Those came on right around April 20, which was Earth Day. Guests really like them. A lot of them don’t have electric vehicles yet, but the guests really like the idea. We foresee in the future they’ll be used quite a bit as more people go to more environmentally friendly vehicles. I’d say since they have been installed, they have been used 10 to 15 times. Q: How are you marketing the charging stations, and do you believe they are part of a larger trend?
A: Through www.greenstayusa.com
. Also, we’re looking at getting some new brochures (that) will have them included. We also market through third-party Web sites such as Orbitz and Travelocity. I run a Best Western property for Mr. Elliott as well, and (had heard) the other day there was a Best Western out in California installing car-charging stations as well. It is starting to catch on.Q: How did this hotel get its start?
A: This is the only Greenstay in the country. When Mr. Elliott purchased the Hampton Inn in June 2009, he and his brother-in-law Bill Hobbs came up with the idea to make this an environmentally friendly hotel and came up with the name Greenstay. Q: What are some other green features of the hotel?
A: We recycle, and, in fact, we have reduced our recycling waste by 30 percent to 35 percent since I came on in October 2009. We got an environmental committee set up a few months later. And we’ve been getting awards. The Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association gave us a certified green award since I’ve been here, and then there is the Ozarks GreenScore, which is through Drury University. It has bronze, silver, gold and green levels, with green being the top level, and right now, we are at the gold level. A few months after I started, we achieved the silver level. Since the beginning, we’ve had dual-flush toilets, water-conserving showerheads … green amenities such as biodegradable shampoos and soaps. Right now, we’re recycling those by sending half-used bottles to the Missouri Hotel. The pool is a saltwater pool. The forks, knives and spoons are made of a corn-based product, and the bowls and plates are made from sugar cane. And we are getting 5 percent of our energy from windmills in Kansas. Q: How is this business model working?
A: We’ve had a few questions about franchising the name – people like it. We get tons of compliments on the place. ... When Mr. Elliott first purchased the hotel, the numbers went way down. That’s part of being an independent. But in the last year – from the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2011 – we’ve seen our revenues go up 7.7 percent. We had a decent 2010, not bad for an independent still trying to get the hotel’s image out there, and this year has taken off really well.