Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wasted Energy or Hospitality?

On Friday, we stayed at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, MA. The hotel is relatively nice with a great location right on the Charles River overlooking Boston, just a short walk to the Garden / North Station where we watched the Boston Celtics lose to the Orlando Magic (Boston was 2 for 19 from the 3 point line - ouch). When opening the door to our rooms (we had a large suite and a standard twin room that were connected), we were greeted by electric light. Lots and lots of electric light. In fact, there were at least 8 lights on between the two rooms. Each was controlled by a separate switch and had obviously been on for some time awaiting our arrival. We were just stopping by to drop off our bags and then walk to the Celtics game so I quickly made the rounds and made sure to shut off every one before leaving.

After the game we returned to our hotel room shocked to find it equally well lit as when we first arrived. This time I counted and there were definitely 8 separate lights turned on between the two rooms. It seems that in the three hours we were gone, somebody had come into the room just to put chocolates on our pillow and to turn on the lights. It was as if they had each room separately metered and immediately sent somebody up to turn on the lights the second the electricity demand dropped below 100 watts in any room. I called the front desk to ask why our lights were on and was told that it is their policy to do this every time somebody goes into a room, be it to clean up or just to drop off some chocolates. At my request they would not be turning on my lights for the remainder of our stay.

Admittedly, the lights were all compact fluorescents, but this gesture seems disingenuous when the hotel admits keeping lights on at all times is company policy. It also seems at odds with their "Passion for the Environment" signage in the bathroom.

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