Treasure Mountain Inn: An Eco-Sensitive Beacon in Park City, Utah
I’ve been fortunate enough to have reported on and stayed in many beautiful hotels and resorts in Park City, Deer Valley Utah, but have not seen a hotel as unusual as the Treasure Mountain Inn (TMI). It is the only “Eco-tique” hotel close to one of the mountains where silver was mined in the last century.
Treasure Mountain is also remarkable in that it has an extensive recycling program for paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, tin, newspaper and cardboard, as well as responsible e-waste disposal. Recycling centers can be found at each entry point, in the lobby and in every room. Their amenities are packaged in salvaged tubes and made from reprocessed materials. Using recycled soaps, the remainder of the unused product is sent to the Clean the World Program, which reconstitutes them for use in third world countries. As everything else, the hotel’s paper products and carpet purchases are also reclaimed materials.
Additionally, the Inn has been minimizing paper consumption since 2003 by streamlining paperwork, emphasizing electronic documents, online banking, and focusing upon digital marketing collateral. When paper is required, TMI uses recycled paper, reduces paper sizes, and prints on both sides.
It is also the first Utah hotel to go carbon neutral by offsetting its remaining carbon footprint—mostly gasoline and natural gas— with Carbon Offsets from Clean Air-Cool Planet (facilitated by Native Energy). Treasure Mountain Inn is an EPA certified Green Power Partner.
You would imagine this hotel to look and feel different from any other hotel that reflects the Western history of the area, but it doesn’t. It is comfortable, friendly, and centrally located. I got the chance to interview the owners, Thea Leonard and Andy Beerman, and we discussed the evolution of the property within the context of the Park City cultural heritage.
JustLuxe: First, in your mind, and as a co-owner, do you see the history of Treasure Mountain reflecting the changes in the Park City culture from a basic mining town to a high-end resort city?
Thea Leonard: Hmmm. I’m not sure we can lay claim as a stand-alone property to the mining heritage, but the developers’ decision to put it on Main Street rather than at the then-fledgling Treasure Mountain Ski Area, suggests they resonated more with the past than with the uncertain future.
JL: When were more of the eco-sensitive hotel components added to the Inn?
TL: Andy realized in 1998 when he joined me here that we were doing things as a reflex that were forward-thinking—paying extra to recycle, reusing remodel components, shying away from caustic chemicals, to name some that I can remember. He appreciated it as a dyed-in-the-wool greenie (his Master’s Thesis delved deeply into deep ecology), and he was the one who determined to put this out in front as an attribute of the property. It wasn’t until we bought this hotel from my dad, the original owner, in 2002, that we were able to whole-heartedly imprint our green preferences on the business and infuse all our decisions with as much of an eco-friendly, triple-bottom-line ethic as we could.
JL: Have these made a difference in the Treasure Mountain Inn culture?
TL: Yes, but never as much as you could wish. There are the occasional kudos, the occasional awards, but mostly it’s about sleeping well at night. And everyone who stays here says they do. The culture that may be the most affected, though again, not as much as I could wish for, is at the staff level. They are the ones who have the most contact with our beliefs, they tend to be younger, so they are the vanguard that will hopefully take up the mission, and punch through.
JL: What plans do you have in the future for any further modifications in the Inn?
Andy Beerman: We long ago switched to CFL, now we’re moving to LED light bulbs, of course. We will be pursuing a B-Corp status in lieu of the LEED. We would like to convert our roofs to green/living roofs, for our sake and the sake of our uphill neighbors.
JL: How do you see Park City's growth from being a small diverse, artistic town to a larger resort area? What are your thoughts on this town/city evolution and how do you see the Treasure Mountain Inn reflecting these changes?
TL: The transformation from sleepy mountain town to robust ski town has been an evolution, it’s true; but it was also an intention, a direction, and a destination. When I arrived here in 1992, the economy was so seasonal, survival in summer depended entirely on stewarding whatever money we may have gathered in winter. A good friend of ours named all us scrappy, local entrepreneurs “high-tech farmers.” If the crop (snow) didn’t come in the winter, we didn’t eat in the summer. It was the intention of the then City Fathers to change our economy to a year-round, multi-dimensional economy.
And, that may just be why people congregate where they do: because they can enjoy life more fully according to their definition of enjoyment. More people congregating tends to lead to growth, so I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t embrace what I’ve very actively & deliberately been a part of; however, I still feel a civic responsibility to continually shine a light on our natural resources—clean air, sparkling snow, healthy trees, access to wild places—so our residents/businesses/visitors/transients are reminded not to waste them, but rather to protect them, here and elsewhere. The more people we can “convert” to this philosophy, the more we will be able to affect change globally.