Hyatt Place throws open 'green' doors

January 5, 2009
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The world’s first Hyatt-brand LEED-built hotel is scheduled to open tomorrow at Metro Health Village in Wyoming.

“We are the first LEED facility with Hyatt, so this is very new to them and they’re very intrigued by it,” General Manager T. Bo Schmitz said. “They’ll look at all the different features and figure out which they implement, … then establish a plan for implementing potential LEED certification in future buildings.”

Situated just north of the M-6 freeway, Hyatt Place is the first of its brand in West Michigan, added Schmitz.

The 113-room, five-story hotel was built by Rockford Construction. It’s owned by Oxford Development Co., a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based real estate firm, and managed by Legacy Hospitality.

Schmitz said a staff of 25 will be on hand for opening day, and another five to 10 employees are likely to be added once the hotel is up and running.

The hotel is aimed at business travelers, with self-serve automated kiosks for check-in and check-out, connections for running laptop displays onto in-room flat-screen televisions, remote printing, and ready-made sandwiches, baked goods and beverages in the lobby, or “gallery.”

However, according to sales and marketing manager Amanda Volkers, the hotel also accommodates families by offering rooms that feature two queen beds and a fold-out queen-size sofa bed, providing a sitting area as well as sleeping arrangements for as many as six in one room. A continental breakfast is served daily, and made-to-order breakfasts also are available. The same connection panel that business travelers use for laptops can connect game consoles and DVD players to the television.

Rooms include king- or queen-size beds, refrigerators, coffeemakers and cordless phones. Guests are greeted at the door by staff members bearing green apples in the earth-toned gallery area, which features tile, stone, wood tables, leather and upholstered sofas and chairs, and a granite-countered front desk.

As an extension of the front desk is a double-thick granite bar with stools, featuring Starbucks coffee and alcohol drinks. Above the fireplace is a reed-and-stone sculpture backed by swirled golden onyx.

The hotel also has a pool and an exercise room.

One of the requirements for buildings in the Metro Health Village, a 170-acre development surrounding Metro Health Hospital near M-6 at the Byron Center Avenue interchange, is construction that meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental design specifications. That demanded some flexibility on the part of the Hyatt company, Volkers said.

“We had to get a waiver from Hyatt for that (exterior stone). Normally, that’s brought in from another country, but for a LEED certification credit, we brought it in from within 500 miles. It reduces the fuel usage to get to our location,” she said.

Schmitz said that among LEED-related features are:

  • Low VOC paints and finishes

  • The use of green cleaning compounds

  • White concrete on most of the parking lot

  • A white roof

  • In-room motion sensors to control heat and lighting

  • Low-flow faucets and toilets.

With the Grand Rapids area claiming more than 10 percent of all LEED buildings in the U.S.,  Hyatt Place is not the first local hotel built to meet certification specifications. The downtown JW Marriott, also built by Rockford Construction, and CityFlats in Holland were LEED projects.

As of May, the USGBC reported, some 400 hotel projects were working with LEED, but just 10 were certified. The first was a Hilton in Maryland in 2005. Earlier this year, the council began a review of its standards for the hospitality industry.

Schmitz said Hyatt Place Grand Rapids/Wyoming, which is 11 miles from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, intends to create a video explaining its green efforts to hotel guests. The video would be available through in-room televisions.

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