My wife and I (with toddler in tow) recently went to the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. We all certainly enjoyed the waterpark and the food. The place is really very well run. We could not help but notice the many recycling cans all over the place. Upon further investigation, I found out that sustainability and environmental responsibility are woven into much of what Great Wolf does.
Looking back, the first indication of this should have been the clock show. The first time I was there, I was watching my son David become totally enthralled with the characters and story. The second time I was there, I paid attention to the show. It was all about being lost in the woods and working together with the various characters to get through the woods—that is, respecting the character in the woods, and the woods themselves. I found out after the fact that the TVs in the suites have a “ green” channel aimed at kids (in partnership with National Geographic Kids).
On a more adult level, Great Wolf has built an entire program (project green wolf) around environmental efficiencies and sustainability. They specifically mention that many of the guests had said that being “green” was important. So the program is in part a response to that. They actually call it “Sustainable Fun”.
A couple of readily apparent features are the low flow showerheads and exclusive use of CFLs instead of incandescent lighting. One of the really interesting aspects to the program is recycling as much water as possible. For example, in the main waterpark, they have invested in technology to allow them to recycle most of the water. In the laundry facilities, they recycle 70% of the water they use.
Sustainability is also an aspect to their vendor management programs. Suppliers are required to be environmentally sensitive in their processes. Some suppliers have even developed their own programs to comply with this requirement. Some specifics are post consumer recycled content for paper products, low VOC paint, biodegradeable dishwashing detergent, etc.
In addition to all this, all of Great Wolf’s properties have met the Green Seal Silver standard. Green Seal is a well-known independent certification agency for environmental and sustainability issues. Their Silver standard is a 10 page checklist of goals to meet. The list is very detailed, but a few examples show the scale of effort required for the silver level. Some examples include: specific chemicals that are not to be in the paint, the timing of landscaping efforts (waterings), programmable timers for heating and lighting in low-traffic flow areas, double-sided copies in the office, etc. It is certainly not an easy standard to meet, whether for one property or a dozen as in Great Wolf’s case.
As a customer (guest) I am thrilled with all of this. First and foremost, Great Wolf is just fun—for me and my family. Second, it is very well run, most notably with the ample lifeguards in the main waterpark. Third, they really do incorporate sustainability and environmental awareness into all aspects of their operations. That is a winning combination in my book for a Howl of a Getaway.