Historic hotels offer a sense of charm and beauty that oftentimes bring guests back repeatedly — but inside those century-old walls, modern-day hoteliers are trying to make their buildings more environmentally friendly.
Hotels are finding ways to cut down on the amount of energy they use through renovations, redesigns and new products, which also benefit those visiting.
The King and Prince Club Beach and Golf Resort opened in 1935 as a seaside dance venue on St. Simons Island, Ga. In 1941, it opened as a hotel, and in 1996, the resort became a member of the Historic Hotels of America organization. Then time wore on and the building needed renovating. In 2003, the King and Prince’s main building underwent a massive change.
The resort had a “major renovation,” according to Bud St. Pierre, King and Prince’s sales and marketing director.
The main goal was to renovate the entire oceanfront building, he said, so the interior was gutted and replaced with modern amenities. The resort did not alter any of its exterior walls.
By building upon what already existed, the King and Prince was able to give guests a one-of-a-kind experience.
Before its renovation, the hotel had 77 rooms in which to stay. Post-renovation, the hotel has 55 unique rooms — in 27 different sizes. Different rooms offer different amenities, like meeting spaces or large desk areas for those doing business, St. Pierre said.
In addition, the hotel received approval from historic commissions to raise the roof on the hotel, allowing for two new oceanfront rooms to be constructed in what previously was a large storage area.
While the hotel was creating a new world indoors, it was able to implement up-to-date technologies, which increased energy efficiency and utility costs.
“By doing this renovation, it allowed us to get modern pipes, plumbing and electric work without the huge expense,” St. Pierre said.
New cabling for television and wireless Internet access completed the hotel’s leap into the modern world – a world hidden by historic walls.
The hotel is now much more energy-efficient, St. Pierre said.
Not all hotels undergo such massive renovations to help them alleviate their carbon footprint.
The Georgian Terrace hotel in Midtown Atlanta has not focused on a green redesign but takes smaller steps toward reducing its energy use. Built in 1911, with some renovations in 2000 and 2009, the hotel has maintained its historic integrity while looking forward in other ways.
Brianna Saloman, the hotel’s social media manager, said that most of the Georgian Terrace’s eco-friendly “efforts are in products we use.”
The hotel uses products that are better for the environment and relies on guests to help reduce use by asking them to conserve water or, perhaps, skip having fresh towels every day.
For historic hotels, the key to maintaining their historic integrity while meeting present-day standards is simply by keeping the hotels in good working order.
“Being historic is probably the biggest green initiative there is,” St. Pierre said, adding that when a historic building is torn down, it leaves a huge carbon footprint. Keeping the historic buildings in repair and operational is a benefit in itself.
“That’s what makes them all unique,” he said. “That’s what really matters.”