Posted: November 01, 2011
Top Company: Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Winner in the tourism/hospitality categoryBy Lisa Ryckman
It isn't easy being green. Xanterra Parks & Resorts just makes it look that way.
The nation's largest park concessioner is committed to ensuring it leaves the softest possible footprint at its 31 hotels and lodges, 55 retail stores, 68 restaurants, three marinas, 10 golf courses, about 1,700 campsites and its latest acquisition, a cruise line.
So the steam-powered engines of the Grand Canyon Railway now run on clean-burning, 100-percent-recycled vegetable oil. There's a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles at Zion Lodge and Zion National Park, but newly installed hydration stations make it easy for guests to use their own refillable bottles. The largest solar photovoltaic system in the tourism industry at Death Valley National Park in California generates enough electricity to supply the Furnace Creek Resort with 100 percent of its power during the day.
The company installed a wind turbine at Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in Ohio, replaced all those little plastic shampoo and lotion bottles in its hotel rooms with fully biodegradable cornstarch-based containers and now uses only sustainable Green Seal-certified cleaning products at all Xanterra properties.
It's no surprise that its aggressive sustainability agenda has earned Xanterra more than 70 national and international environmental awards in the past 11 years. But its environmental goals aren't about tooting the company horn, President and CEO Andrew Todd says.
"It's not just PR or green wash, it's actually established programs at each property," he says. "All the employees take it to heart. It's a priority, and everyone knows it."
Xanterra, which was acquired by the Denver-based Anschutz Co. three years ago, continues the legendary hospitality established by Fred Harvey, who began developing upscale hotels and restaurants along the Santa Fe Railroad in 1876. Xanterra acquired the Fred Harvey Co. in 1968, and just completed the purchase of Windstar Cruises, whose three ships are known for their luxury.
"The national park system offers the opportunity for guests and visitors who want to have a relatively less expensive vacation, and we provide that service," says Chris Lane, vice president for environmental affairs. "And we've also flipped this on its head and looked at acquisitions during these times, with a strong emphasis on quality management, with a strong emphasis on environmental protection, and a growth agenda."
At its heart, Xanterra is about helping to make memories - the camping trips to Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park, that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon or Mt. Rushmore - and making sure that these places are every bit as special for generations to come, Todd says.
It's a stewardship Xanterra takes very seriously.
"Two of our core values are corporate citizenship and environmental protection," Lane says. "These kinds of programs, which we've had for years, make every employee feel really good about the work they do and makes them realize that Xanterra is not just about making money.
"We're human beings, and we want to enjoy our lives," he says.
"And we want to do the right thing along the way."
Lisa Ryckman is the online editor at cobizmag.com.