An innovative initiative between W Hotels and The Coca-Cola Company has its roots in an unlikely place: a Black Eyed Peas concert. After the show, singer Will.i.am took a photo of the lawn littered with bottles and cans. Then he contacted Bea Perez, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola’s chief sustainability officer, to set up a meeting.
“He showed her the picture and said ‘We need to do something about this,’ ” explains Sarah Doyle, New York City-based global brand director of W Hotels Worldwide, a Stamford, Conn.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts brand. Perez agreed, and in 2014 Ekocycle was born.
The mission of Ekocycle (the first four letters are Coke spelled backwards) and Coca-Cola is to work with brands to create eco-friendly products. For W Hotels, a long-time collaborator with Coca-Cola, it was a great fit. “Essentially, we looked around the W Hotels guestroom and said ‘What can we change?’ ” recalls Doyle. “And, we decided to literally change our sheets.”
In April, W Hotels announced it is remaking all its beds with new Ekocycle sheets, which are made in part with recycled plastic. Each king-size sheet uses 31 recycled 20-oz. plastic bottles, adding up to more than 268,000 plastic bottles across all W Hotel beds in North America. The rollout started in North America in April, with global properties to follow in 2016.
While “green” efforts in guestrooms typically involve hotels encouraging guests not to get their sheets washed during their stay, W Hotels has a more cutting-edge take. “We wanted to shake up the way people are looking at sustainability,” says Doyle.
The brand also had to create a product that resonated with its guests. “The W guest is passionate about many things, and W delivers on that in unique ways — from our hotel design to our music and fashion partnerships,” says Doyle. “So, we knew we couldn’t deliver sustainability in a traditional way, and we wanted to do it in a way that was easy for our guest.”
As for aligning the brand with Will.i.am, Doyle says, aside from being a well-known recording artist, the star is also an entrepreneur and an innovator. “We love to work with people who have a really fresh perspective and bring new ideas to our guests.”
To add another eco- friendly element to guestrooms, W Hotels is rolling out a new Mobile Charger and Accessory Valet (MCAV), a USB charging device that also acts as a jewelry/watch stand and an alarm clock. Developed by Taiwan-based engineering firm Miniwiz, the stylish device is partially created out of recycled plastic bottles and comes in six colours.
Aside from bringing style and sustainability to the guestrooms, the Ekocycle initiative also makes sense from a business perspective. Doyle says the Ekocycle sheets cost about as much as the current sheets, but last twice as long. And, she adds, they’re just as comfy.
Volume 27, Number 4
Written By: Rebecca Harris