The Proximity Hotel: a case study on guest satisfaction of sustainable luxury environments

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily J. Becker (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kenneth Gruber

Abstract: With sustainable luxury hotels only recently becoming a trend in the hospitality field, many hospitality professionals lack a clear understanding of how sustainability and luxury might fit together in the built-environment and how those decisions affect guest satisfaction. The Proximity Hotel is located in Greensboro, NC and is the first LEED Platinum hotel and restaurant within the United States. This hotel is the context for this case study. While the hotel has reduced its water and energy use drastically compared to other hotels of its size, it boasts that guests will not sacrifice a great luxury experience (Marano, 2008; Proximity Hotel, 2009). In hotels, style and comfort are two key factors that contribute to a luxury experience (Talbott, 2004); yet, sustainable design is often assumed to be unattractive in appearance and uncomfortable (McLennan, 2004; NEWH: The Hospitality Industry Network, 2007). The design, style, and comfort of a hotels built-environment affect guest selection of their hotel, their satisfaction, and their likelihood to revisit or recommend a hotel (Heide & GrØnhaug, 2009; Kasim, 2004; Ramsaran-Fowdar, 2007; Skogland & Siguaw, 2004). Values and attributes of luxury can be viewed as conflicting with the values and attributes of sustainable design; therefore, the primary focus of this study was to assess guest satisfaction with sustainable or luxury features of their rooms as well as their overall perceptions of the hotel. A guest survey was developed and 241 responses were collected and considered usable. Variables studied include sustainable and comfort features within the guestrooms and general guest satisfaction indicators related to luxury, comfort, style, experience, and overall satisfaction with the hotel. It is widely acknowledged that sustainable development includes many factors and principles. For purposes of this study the focus was limited primarily to the environmental aspects of sustainability. Guests desire to support environmentally conscious hotels, which was evident from the finding that almost half of the survey respondents indicated that their decision to stay at the hotel was influenced by the hotel's sustainable practices. Female guests consistently noted higher satisfaction levels with the room characteristics and the general satisfaction variables. Improved air quality, in-room recycling options, and abundant natural lighting were found to be sustainable features that contributed to a luxury experience, rather than detracting from one. Almost all of those surveyed said they would consider another stay at the hotel if they were visiting the same geographic area again. A satisfactory guest experience needs to be the first and most important consideration for hotels; however, it is also important for hotels to consider sustainable development and operational practices to reduce their ecological footprint. While sustainable design is perceived by some to be aesthetically unattractive and uncomfortable (McLennan, 2004; NEWH: The Hospitality Industry Network, 2007), guests indicated high satisfaction with the room and hotel design, room comfort, and with the overall luxury. The intersection of luxury and sustainability examined in this study indicates that, at least for the Proximity Hotel, that luxury and sustainable design within the context of a hotel environment do not conflict.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Design, Hotel, LEED, Luxury, Satisfaction, Sustainable
Hotels $x Design and construction $x Environmental aspects.
Sustainable architecture $x Case studies.
Sustainable buildings $x Standards.
Consumer satisfaction.
Consumers' preferences.

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