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Highland Adventures is Honored in Montana for their Sustainability Practices

Post Date: Mar 17, 2020


Engaging our communities with an environmentally responsible business has gone from a talked about value, to real practice in the last few years. The State of Montana, fueled by MSU Extension's Montana Pollution Prevention Program, has been rewarding businesses focused on preserving and prioritizing the health of not only our environment but also our economic resources for 19 years with the EcoStar Awards Program. This year, Highland Adventures is being recognized for its sustainability and green certification programs. Their core areas of focus are Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Water Conservation, Waste Diversion, and Habitat Protection.

The Ecostar Program

The Ecostar Program focuses on businesses and organizations in Montana taking environmentally responsible steps to reduce solid and hazardous waste, maximize efficiencies, conserve energy and water, improve air quality, and create a more sustainable business model.

Pollution prevention reduces both financial costs, such as those incurred through waste management and cleanup, and environmental costs like health problems and ecosystem damage for individuals and businesses alike. It protects the environment by conserving natural resources while strengthening economic growth through more efficient production in industry and less need for companies, households, and communities to handle waste management.

Honored to Be Selected

For their efforts, Highline Adventures has been presented with the 2019 Montana Ecostar Pollution Prevention Award. They are very grateful to be a small, family-owned company, making an impact alongside considerably larger Montana businesses that have teams dedicated to progress and tracking data to measure improvement. Though small, they have committed to being leaders in the communities their hotels are in, and in the economy hotel segment nationally.

High line Adventures, LLC operates seven hotels and a campground in Montana. Our family owns each of these establishments:

  • Timbers Motel in Bigfork
  • Western Heritage Inn of Bozeman
  • Ramada in Bozeman
  • Travelodge in Livingston
  • Super 8 in Livingston
  • Travelodge in Gardiner
  • Super 8 in Gardiner
  • Sunrise Campground in Bozeman
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Small Company, Big Goals

As you can see, our small company has big goals. Primarily, we see our hotels as educational opportunities for the traveling public. We have created little informative and engaging signs that are posted in key areas that highlight small ways guests can change their behaviors when traveling, and even when they get home.

These might be posted next to the soap and shampoo dispensers in the showers, informing guests about the plastic saved when using bulk soap dispensers instead of little bottles. They might be posted above the recycling bins in each room, highlighting the reduction in waste and the opportunity to keep plastic out of our waterways. They might be displayed above the breakfast bar to illustrate the benefits of using real silverware and wooden coffee stir sticks. They have a variety of educational opportunities in each hotel, speaking to the public about the advantages that come with a green model of operation.

"We implemented many of our changes because they made sense or felt like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, as a small company, we didn't have sophisticated metrics or data tracking. However, in 2019, we began testing and using the Wyndham Green platform, where we enter and track our utility usage. This gives us solid data for comparison in the future, " says Eric Sheckleton, owner of Highline Adventures.

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Pioneering the Green Platform

Wyndham has a Green Certification with five levels, with criteria verified through pictures, statements, and even inspections. Highline Adventures was proud that their seven hotels were the first ever to be certified at the Core level in the new Wyndham Green program. Some of their achievements include:

  • Guests staying two or more nights can earn 500 Wyndham Rewards points if they forego housekeeping service during their stay. The hotel purchases the rewards points at their cost, but it saves on the use of water, energy, and detergent to clean the linens, as well as chemicals and electricity used to clean the room.
  • 90% of all lighting has been replaced with LED equivalent bulbs and/or fixtures. This includes full exterior packages at 5 of our locations and converting the lighting and the pole signs at 5 of our sites.
  • Basic recycling in the common areas and guest rooms at all of our locations have been implemented. This is no easy feat in remote locations such as Bigfork and Gardiner. "We save it up in these locations and haul it when someone is making a trip near a location site anyway. We led the way for Travelodge and the rest of Wyndham by negotiating a waiver to install bulk soap, shampoo, and body wash dispensers in all bathrooms," Eric explained. "This eliminated the plastic bottles, and the Wyndham brands have begun to follow our lead."
  • At the three locations that serve breakfast, Highline Adventures installed the equipment necessary to be able to use real dishes, coffee mugs, and silverware. This required more staff to maintain breakfast but significantly reduced waste. They also removed plastic stir sticks and began using bulk coffee creamers rather than individual servings, at all locations.
  • Lastly, they stopped providing bottled water for guests and installed water bottle fill stations at all locations. They also offer reusable water bottles at our cost ($2), so that guests have little reason to buy a water bottle for the rest of their trip.
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What Fueled the Fire

After attending the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Summit at Bridger Bowl this past October, they committed to following the GSTC guidelines to become a Montana sustainable tourism partner. While they had already implemented some initiatives, like the ones listed above, the GSTC guidelines expanded their perspective toward the more considerable impact their hotels have on the community.

Specifically, there are four areas Highline Adventures will focus their impact going forward:

  • Developing successful sustainable management systems
  • Maximizing social and economic benefits to the local community
  • Growing ongoing advantages for the cultural heritage of Montana
  • Emphasizing the benefits to the environment, while curtailing any negative impacts.

They will seek out new processes and initiatives that help them preserve these beautiful communities and our environment.

Highline Adventures is very honored to be a recipient of the Ecostar Program Award. They look forward to making an impact on the environment and being a sustainable tourism partner in the great state of Montana.