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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | April 24, 2013

On April 22, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe celebrated the 33rd annual Earth Day, pitching in to clean up local roads and waterways, abandoned parking lots and city parks in what has become an annual rite of spring. Likewise, many hotels showed their commitment to the environment and their local communities with programs that ranged from a naturalist-led beach clean to shutting the lights in all unoccupied rooms, and employees turned out to volunteer at dozens of local green efforts.

Members of Englewood, Colo.-based Destination Hotels & Resorts, a collection of 40 luxury properties, demonstrated their ongoing commitment to DHR's companywide Destination Earth initiative, which was launched in 2008, with a slew of interesting campaigns and promotions, including the following:

• At the 120-room L'Auberge del Mar near San Diego, which reopened five years ago after a multimillion-dollar renovation, employees and guests took part in a "Paddle Out" with the San Diego Lagoon Preservation Committee, in which they paddled out from and surfed back into a nearby lagoon at a designated time to publicize the need to preserve the earth's waterways.

• In Chicago, at the 213-room MileNorth Hotel, guests received gifts of seed packets and a note from management saying the property would donate one tree to be planted at a local tree farm for each guest who checked in on Earth Day.

• Employees at the 219-room Hamilton Park in Florham, N.J., were rewarded with raffle tickets and the chance to a win a $150 prize for taking public transportation to work, bringing in their old cell phones and cameras to recycle, forgoing bottled water and helping the hotel chef tend the property's private garden.

Myriad other properties joined in the effort as well, including these:
 
• In a symbolic move, MGM Resorts International celebrated the day by launching a corporate social responsibility website, "Inspiring Our World," which details the  company's advances in diversity, community and environmental responsibility. "Customers today are interested not only in the exceptional service a business provides, but also whether it serves the community and planet with the same enthusiasm. We want them to know we are passionate about both," said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO, in a statement. Over the past five years, MGM Resorts have achieved six LEED Gold certifications, saved more than 300 million kilowatt ours of electricity and 1.9 billion gallons of water, and has increased its recycling rate by more than 420 percent (www.mgmresorts.com/csr).

Gwen Magita, of Caesars Entertainment• Caesars Entertainment's eight Las Vegas properties -- Bally's Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Harrah's Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas, The Quad, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino and Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino -- demonstrated the company's commitment to CodeGreen, its environmental-responsibility strategy, by hosting local farmers' markets on property, as well as giving away 16 EnergyFit audits (two per property) to promote energy efficiency at home. "Earth Day is commemorated only once a year, but our commitment to the environment is demonstrated through sustainable practices at our resorts every day," said Gwen Migita, right, vice president of sustainability and community affairs at Caesars Entertainment (www.caesars.com/codegreen).

• Boutique properties also stepped up to the cause. The 62-room Hotel Griffon in San Francisco and the 102-room Bristol Hotel in San Diego, both members of the San Francisco-based Greystone Hotels Collections, announced that they will donate a portion of all meeting and guest-room revenue generated on Earth Day to a leading environmental group.