Eco-friendly hotels look to attract tech-savvy travelers

Ian B. Murphy

Lexington added two new hotels on July 1, as Starwood’s Aloft and Element brand hotels opened for business on Marrett Road.

The two hotels will to bring business travelers and tourists to town, but they will also provide a boost to Lexington’s economy.

The town will receive hundreds of thousands of new dollars in hotel taxes, but that isn’t the only benefit. The themed hotels are different than others in the area, and they may help Lexington attract new business.

“There is a need for hotels in Lexington, for commercial uses as well as the tourism,” said Susan Yanofsky, Lexington’s economic development officer. “Having Aloft and Element in town is nice not only [because] we have a need for hotel rooms within our community, but also [because having] a hotel product that is unique in the marketplace raises the profile of Lexington.”

Aloft is geared towards a young, tech-savvy market, touting connections for gadgets and a trendy bar and community space. Element emphasizes an eco-friendly approach with a sustainable design, organic foods, free bicycles for guests and a fitness center.

Yanofsky said that those types of amenities are targeting the same types of businesses that are relocating and expanding in Lexington, such as Shire, Vistaprint, and BAE Systems. Because those businesses have offices all over the world, they need hotel and conference space nearby for their international travelers.

“We’re becoming not just a regional location for businesses, but we have companies that are international,” she said. “The product is a very good fit for the type of businesses that are here and want to locate here.”

Aloft and Element will add a tangible enhancement to Lexington’s budget. Lexington has charged 4 percent on every room rental since 1986, when the town opted into the hotel and motel tax.

“The state collects it, and then distributes it to the cities and towns [quarterly],” Town Manager Carl Valente said.  

Valente said Lexington earned $114,189 from the local hotel tax in fiscal 2008. With Aloft and Element up and running, the town estimated it would receive $338,000 in fiscal 2009.

Aloft and Element combined bring 259 new hotel rooms to town. The least expensive room in Element is $79 a night; in Aloft, it’s $109 a night.