Even Kimpton's DeFrino said the boutique chain won't roll out an environmental initiative if tests show that customers don't like it. But in Kimpton's case, DeFrino found that guests approve of their efforts.
"Our guest satisfaction has improved since our green initiatives were introduced, and it's given us confidence that efforts have not deteriorated the guest experience," he said.
The tide may be turning
It's possible that younger people used to recycling and saving water will bring those attitudes into their hotel stays as they age. Ritz-Carlton's Stephenson sees children leading their parents into caring about the environment on their hotel stays.
Betting that more and more consumers want to choose environmentally friendly hotels right now, travel website TripAdvisor is launching its GreenLeaders program this year to let travelers know which hotels have sustainable practices.
About 71% of travelers reported that they planned to choose hotels based on sustainability over the next year, compared with 65% in the previous survey, according to an April 2012 Trip Advisor survey.
Yet while 81% of hotels have some green programs, almost a quarter don't communicate that fact to their guests, said TripAdvisor spokeswoman Alison Croyle.
The website is accepting applications from hotels to qualify for a "GreenLeader" or "GreenPartner" label on the TripAdvisor site based on their sustainable practices. The program will rely on traveler feedback, and any discrepancies could trigger an independent audit of the hotel.
That's information that Genevieve Hein, 33, who always hangs up her towels at hotels to reuse them the next day, would enjoy having.
"Trying to limit my impact on the environment makes me feel good," said Hein, assistant director of residence life at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.
"When I go against my green principles for the sake of convenience or to go with the flow, I feel bad about myself and guilty. I can't imagine how those feelings would enhance my vacation, which is supposed to be all about feeling good."
Do you like to participate in a hotel's sustainable programs, or do they irritate you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.