How do we know electric vehicles truly have arrived? Because luxury hotel brands are starting to accommodate them in a big way. Earlier this year, Ritz-Carlton became the latest brand to roll out the red carpet for guests who own these cars and trucks, and it has charging stations at many properties around the world, from Amelia Island (Georgia) and Montreal to Hong Kong. Contributing writer Matt Villano caught up with Lisa Holladay, global brand leader and vice president, to understand the move, the strategy behind it, and the importance of Tesla to the overall equation.
Why charging stations? Why now?
It really comes from guests’ needs and desires for it. Of course, we also believe we have a role to play in encouraging sustainability, and sustainable driving has become such a cornerstone of that. Ultimately it’s about meeting any and every guest need we have, whether guests want to have lunch, spa treatments, or somewhere to park their electric cars. Our organization is committed to seeking ways to inspire people to live differently and adopt a lifestyle in which we can travel responsibly, comfortably and create memories that will last a lifetime. One of our main focuses is environmental responsibility, and our approach is to merge our global strategy with local perspective, allowing us to integrate sustainable initiatives across the broad range of geographic locations in both remote and urban communities where we operate.
How many stations are at each property? How quickly do they work?
We’ve installed two charging stations at each of the participating properties. Each has the ability to charge up for the next 150 miles in two and a half hours.
Was it as easy as running some new outlets and building the towers, or was there some more sophisticated electrical work that needed to happen to get this done?
It definitely was an elaborate process.
And the charging stations are free for guests?
Absolutely free. In terms of whether use of the stations falls under valet parking or self-parking, that varies depending on the hotel. Not all of our hotels have self-park. In the event that the stations are available at a hotel that only offers valet parking, use of the stations would be included in the fee for valet parking.
To what extent is Ritz-Carlton marketing this new amenity to guests?
We haven’t gone out with a big marketing campaign around it. We’ve been educating guests and making sure current Tesla owners know they can charge their vehicles at our properties. The other thing we’ve done is put together a Tesla room night experience package. Again, if you come stay at the property, then you would have a chance to have a Tesla to use while you were there visiting and staying at the property. We’ve done that at the Half Moon Bay [California] property, and we will add it at our Ritz-Carlton Georgetown property soon, too.
You keep mentioning Tesla. Why was it so important for Ritz-Carlton to accommodate owners of this brand?
Three things. First, the reputation of that company as innovative was very appealing to us, and we thought it would be appealing to our guests, too. Second, there’s a mystique around Tesla and learning more about it. Finally, with the price-point of Tesla vehicles being on the luxury side, we share a similar target guest. Our belief was that Tesla owners would be interested in Ritz-Carlton and Ritz-Carlton guests would be interested in Tesla. So far, it’s worked out exactly as we had hoped.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.
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Matt Villano Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. To learn more about him, visit whalehead.com.