By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
At Canada's first Element hotel in Vaughan, ON, you can charge your iPhone by pedalling one of the stationary bikes in the fitness centre. It's just one of the green features of the 152-suite, extended stay property, the first of this Starwood brand outside of the U.S.
Element is the first chain to mandate LEED certification for its hotels.
The green focus is evident as you drive through the parking lot, where prime spots are reserved for wheelchairs, but also for low-emission, energy-efficient and carpool vehicles. There's an electric vehicle charging station, which is available both to guests and non-guests who need to charge their cars.
Inside, floor to ceiling windows surround the building, letting in natural light. The lobby is residential in feel, with eating and sitting areas, separated only by a low-slung wall. A courtyard with Napoleon barbecues, picnic areas, benches and a garden with grass and flowers are visible through the windows.
“When you're sitting there, you forget where you are,” says general manager John Caneco, of Atlific. He moved across the parking lot to open the Element Vaughan Southwest, after opening and running the adjacent Holiday Inn Express, another Atlific-managed property for five years. “It's a retreat area, tranquil and relaxing.”
Caneco adds that Element targets the health-conscious extended stay guest, with a target demographic of 28 to 50-year-olds. Extended stay guests consist of people who have relocated not only to Vaughan, but also to surrounding areas. On the weekends, the hotel caters to families visiting nearby attractions such as Canada's Wonderland and Legoland.
“Vaughan is a great city for this hotels, not only because of the businesses at the heart of it, but also because it's the fastest-growing city in Canada,” says Dan Young, public relations manager for Starwood. Vaughan's population is 270,000 according to highway signs.
Element Vaughan Southwest is just one of four Starwood openings this month. Starwood also opened the Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport, and by the end of the month the Four Points Edmundston, NB and the Four Points Edmonton Airport should both be open.
“That brings us to 64 hotels in Canada,” said Young. “It's a big growth year for us.” The other two hotels are the Aloft Calgary University and Four Points by Sheraton in Waterloo, ON.
PHOTO: John Caneco, general manager of Element Vaughan Southwest, demonstrates how to charge your iPhone while using the stationary bicycle in the hotel's fitness centre.