Construction continues at new Westin Resort in Avon |

Construction continues at new Westin Resort in Avon

Scott N. MillerVail, CO, Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyLarge, south-facing windows at the new Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon provide a great view of Beaver Creek. They also let in natural light, meaning the hotel will use less electricity.

AVON, Colorado Its hard to think of a 200-room, nine-story hotel complex as a green building, but thats what the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa is shooting for.The condo/hotel, expected to open in August, is working on certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program. To make that happen, the building has been designed to tread a little more lightly on the planet than similarly-sized resorts.To do that, there are things guests will notice, including large windows all around to bring in more natural light and cut down on the need for electric bulbs. People will also notice that many of those windows open to let in fresh air.But there are a lot of things people wont notice. For instance, all the drywall in the Westin is coming from a factory in Gypsum. The Westin is actually paying more to have the wallboard delivered straight from Gypsum. Drywall is usually shipped to Denver, then distributed. The direct shipping cuts down on the fuel used and emissions created trucking the stuff to, and then from, the city.People probably wont notice that the hotels roof tiles are made from shredded car tires, or the amount of construction waste thats being recycled. And they probably wont notice the lack of new home smell, because the project is using interior paint and carpeting that doesnt emit various gases when its new.Those fumes can make people sick, Westin Riverfront Director of Sales and Marketing Kristen Pryor said. Using this paint and carpeting improves interior air quality.People are going to build, Pryor said. We want to do it in as environmentally friendly a way as possible.While green building at the Westin is adding an estimated 10 percent to the construction costs, Pryor said building to LEED standards is becoming a sound business decision.Its becoming a buying decision for people, Pryor said.Thats why this Westin will have recycling stations on every floor, and why hybrid cars get preferred parking. The resort has also teamed up with the Gore Range Natural Science School to provide programs for both kids and adults to acquaint them with the mountain environment.People want to feel like theyre contributing, but they dont want to give up the luxury theyre accustomed to, Westin Riverfront General Manager Bob Trotter said. That luxury includes a gondola right that can take people to Beaver Creek. The gondola, only about a block from Avons main bus stop, counts as public transportation when adding up LEED points. So does the luxurious touch of an on-site garden. That garden will be used to grow vegetables and herbs for the Watermark restaurant, run by chef Thomas Salumunovich of Larkspur and Larkburger fame.Trotter said the idea for the Watermark is to provide a restaurant somewhere on the scale between the upscale Larkspur and the inexpensive Larkburger.Mere mortals will be able to eat there, Trotter said. Its going to be a place locals can frequent instead of a place thats just for special occasions.The Westin is being touted as the first green luxury resort, and has received some attention in publications including the New York Times and Time Magazine. The gondola is also getting good reviews on-line. The big test, of course, will come when the resort opens this summer. Trotter said hes confident the eco-touches in the hotel will be a hit, especially the windows.With those big windows in the lobby, the guest has an incredible sense of arrival, Trotter said. It really brings the view to the guests.Pryor said the Westins goal is to send people back home feeling better than when they arrived. We really feel like this resort will do that, she said.

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