ALUM PLAYS LEADING ROLE IN ECOTOURISM INDUSTRY
Can sustainability coexist with luxury hotels? You bet. It’s not only friendly to the environment, but it’s a booming sector in the hotel and tourism industry.
There is perhaps no better place to find green luxury in this country than in the Rocky Mountains, where natural beauty begets respect for the environment among residents and guests. There, tucked against the Teton Mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Hotel Terra is setting the pace for eco-boutique hotels.
Guided by Bruce Grosbety (HTM ’85) and a team that includes seven Purdue graduates, the 135-room hotel combines four-star luxury with an ongoing commitment to sustainability from the ground up. Built by the Terra Resort Group in 2008, the hotel earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification through design with sustainable approaches to site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Guests may notice some of the sustainable practices; others, such as energy-efficient insulation and heating systems that manage energy consumption by detecting if anyone is in the room, are not as noticeable.
According to Grosbety, vice president of operations for the Terra Resort Group, the hotel is responding to a growing sector of the market. “We believe we are setting the pace in answering a growing desire by many guests and consumers to match their lifestyle at home with hotels and resorts that are just as conscious in how they operate and manage their operations,” he says.
It’s good business practice, says Jonathon Day, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management and a member of the Purdue Tourism and Hospitality Research Center, which helps companies develop strategies for sustainable tourism.
“In many cases, like in Jackson Hole, the environment, the culture, the biodiversity are important attractions for the hotel and destinations,” he says. “To not care for the environment would be to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Hoteliers are important stewards of their destinations. Fortunately, hoteliers who are really social entrepreneurs, like Bruce (Grosbety) and the team at Hotel Terra, recognize the important role they play.”
Grosbety has played the role of the hospitable hotelier for years. He grew up working in his family’s hotel and restaurant in upstate New York. His pedigree includes management of the Four Seasons Parker Meridien, Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza and the Snake River Resort & Spa. With Terra Resort Group, he not only serves as general manager of the flagship Hotel Terra but oversees daily operations of the company’s properties, which include The Inn at Jackson Hole and the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa.
Grosbety hopes the eco-friendly philosophy that guides Hotel Terra will spread throughout the industry. “We hope we can have an impact on how hotels are built in the future,” he says. “One day it will no longer be about comparing traditional-built vs. LEED-built, it will just become the right way to develop all residential and commercial buildings.”
For more information on Hotel Terra, visit www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com.