Green Hotels Association
    September 2013  

EL REY INN SAVES WATER!

El Rey Inn, a property in Santa Fe, NM which originated in 1936, is spread out over 5 acres of somewhat lush, somewhat tropical and somewhat dry land with lots of walkways and foot paths. Terrell White and his family have owned and run the property since 1973. One goal is to keep the property looking lush and green, which is a real challenge when they are at 7,000 feet in the high desert and in the very dry climate of north central New Mexico. Santa Fe’s setting in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains produces a mild continental climate with four distinct seasons. However, New Mexico has been on the national map as one of the driest states in the country, and the state is in the third year of a major drought. Consequently, it has been their concern to save their most precious resource—water. The image of 18-year GHA PARTNER MEMBER El Rey Inn is their gardens, trees and incredible roses and many private courtyards, patios and fountains throughout the garden property.

Twelve years ago the hotel installed artificial turf in several high traffic areas in an effort to curb the use of water, fertilizer and additional labor. The project was rather expensive initially at about $11,000 for about 1,000 square feet, but the cost savings over all these years has been substantial.

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They used a first-class company for the installation which happened to be owned by the son of one of the housekeepers. There was a lot of prep work spreading sand and compaction of the surface to level the area before the turf was installed. The artificial turf allows water to pass through it so the nearby trees receive rain or sprinkler water and the overall look remains very attractive and cared-for in appearance. With the natural light accumulation of pine cones and pine needles, the turf looks very real as well as natural. Guests don't seem to even be aware that it is artificial. Edges of the turf are enhanced with brick and stone edging.

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After all these years the areas still look sharp, and they have used far less water because of the investment. Santa Fe has one of the highest water rates in the country with commercial establishments impacted the most. For the first 80,000 gallons of use, the rate is $6.06 per thousand gallons per month and after that the rate goes up to $21.72 per thousand gallons of use per month. The property water bills run between $5,000 and $8,000 per month for an 86-unit property. All that water is over and above the water used from two wells on the property.

The two water wells are each about 220’ deep. One was dug in the ‘70s and the second in the ‘90s. The inn is only allowed to use well water for exterior use which includes the outdoor glass-enclosed spa, the indoor spa and the junior-size Olympic pool. The well water cannot be used inside the buildings. At Terrell's home nearby, they have used well water for everything for many years, and find the well water quality to be excellent.

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The inn has an on-site greenhouse built almost 30-years ago that is in use throughout the year to grow bedding plants, flowers for interior use, hanging basket flowers and plantings in barrels all over the property. They have beautiful cascading geraniums all over the property and especially at our porte-coch�re. No food or herbs are grown. The greenhouse has always been highly interesting to our guests, and most cannot resist popping in to see what’s going on in there.

To learn more about GHA and how your property can be greener, jump to "Green" Hotels Association® !



"GREEN" IDEA!
Direct rainwater downspouts into gardens rather than into the street so that plantings can benefit.
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