Dover Downs goes green with hospitality

Chef Barbie Marshall, Hell’s Kitchen finalist, addresses conference attendees during the inaugural conference.

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino hosts Green Conference

By Rana Fayez
Staff Writer

Dover Conference Working Group, a subsidiary of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, hosted its first Mid-Atlantic Green Hospitality conference last month, covering issues related to environmentally sound lodging and food service operations.

“The goal was to get the conversation started, to bring all of these ideas and minds together in the same room on the East Coast,” said John Doerfler, conference coordinator. “These green practices and these green products won’t get off the ground unless the market demands them. I believe we have a moral and social responsibility to make sure that the industry feels that way.”

Doerfler said he was unable to find any conferences on the East Coast while researching green hospitality initiatives, so he decided to create one with his team.

Roughly 179 people attended the event, which featured 28 industry vendors, including Seiberlich Trane, Sysco, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

The event also included educational forums.  The best-attended seminars focused on different ways to make properties more sustainable, conducted by Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and protecting your property from flood damage, hosted by FEMA.

“Greening your property is more about practice than product,” said Doerfler.

Keynote speaker Ralph Meima traveled from Vermont to participate in the event and spoke about the effects of long-term climate change.

“The greening of our practices might have a short-term business effect and that’s great, but we also need to pay attention to the long-term effects such as sea level change,” he said.

He praised the conference as being timely.

“There’s a growing trend of environmental practices in the hotel industry… it was significant that they made sure their conference wasn’t only about greening your hotel, but also touched on longer-term issues,” he said.

Meima is a communications professional with a unique focus in Sustainability Communication.

Doerfler said putting together a roadmap for the first conference was challenging, but it helped build a great foundation for next year’s event at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

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