By Paul Schlienz
The Hampton Inn & Suites Portland/Vancouver runs an environmentally sustainable operation. It’s a strong advocate for the hospitality industry. And it’s loved by its guests.
General Manager Steve Bowers, who is also an ambassador for the Washington Hospitality Association, is proud of his hotel and the high ratings it consistently gets from its guests.
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“My staff does a wonderful job caring for our guests,” Bowers said. “We’ve been No. 1 on TripAdvisor since the hotel opened. We’re the No. 1 Hampton Inn on the West Coast, and we’ve been as high as No. 6 nationally among all Hampton Inns, as a brand.”
The hotel is also making great strides to operate in an environmentally sustainable way. Among its initiatives is a policy of allowing guests to choose whether towels and linens get refreshed daily or less often to save water and electricity.
“We’re also recycling plastics in our hotels, and we’re moving to more recyclable paper products,” Bowers said. “As part of our carbon footprint reduction, with our laundry system, we’re actually utilizing a cold-water cleaning cycle. That way we use less hot water when we’re cleaning our linens, and we’re saving energy.”
Hampton Inn’s environmental concerns, however, extend far beyond the local community.
“As a brand, we just rolled out at the beginning of this year a partnership with Clean the World,” Bowers said.
Clean the World is a nonprofit charity that takes discarded shampoo, soap and conditioner from hotels and recycles it into soap and other cleaning products for use in third-world countries.
“I took a look at the Clean the World program,” Bowers said. “It was something I didn’t think about every day before I became involved, but there are some countries where lack of soap affects the population more severely than you would think. It was something for me that I was really excited about personally, to think that we, as a brand, instead of just throwing out all these things, can recycle them and really help some people.”
The hotel also encourages its employees to get involved with volunteer activities in the local community.
“We have volunteer programs for our staff where we try to encourage community activities outside the hotel in our community every year,” Bowers said. “Each year, we give awards for our volunteers of the year. Last year, our volunteers of the year got trips to Hawaii, California and Chicago.”
Additionally, the hotel supports community development and access for kids in sports. And since 2017, Bowers has been on the board of Visit Vancouver USA.
“As a member of the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and the Visit Vancouver USA Board of Directors, Steve has been an exceptional advocate for tourism to our area,” said Kim Bennett, president and CEO of Visit Vancouver USA. “Steve was a key advocate for Visit Vancouver USA, securing 15 percent of lodging tax funds, allowing us to grow our marketing and promotional efforts of the destination as our visitor offerings evolve.”
Bowers got into the hospitality business almost by accident.
“I moved to Salem, Ore., as a young man,” Bowers said. “I needed a job at the time. There was a hotel that was hiring for night auditor. I applied and ended up falling in love with the hospitality industry and realized that I liked it because I really enjoyed interacting with people. I caught that hospitality bug, I guess.”
After many years in the business, Bowers is pleased with where his career has led him.
“I’m proud to be part of the Vancouver community,” Bowers concluded.