Looking to book a sustainable vacation? Epicure & Culture caught up with Deborah Degalla, General Manager of the Hanover Inn Dartmouth in New Hampshire, to learn more about one of the state’s most responsible properties. Keep reading to learn why you should book your next trip to The Granite State.
1. What is your background in terms of the travel industry and how did you end up as the manager of the Hanover Inn Dartmouth?
I’ve been lucky enough to be in the hotel business for over thirty years, so it has been more of a passion then a job. I joined the Hanover Inn Dartmouth in fall 2011 to direct the $43 million dollar renovation, re-branding and positioning of the historic 108-room full-service hotel. Prior to, I was the Hotel Manager for the 230-room Boston Harbor Hotel, a Forbes Five Star luxury landmark property, in Boston, Massachusetts.
Prior to that my hospitality career included 16 years with Renaissance Hotels & Resorts throughout the country, serving as Director of Sales and Marketing for the historic Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco, Director of Sales for the Renaissance Orlando Resort at Sea World, and various Sales and Operations positions at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore and Stouffer Hamilton in Chicago. I graduated from Florida International University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management and an Associate’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the State University of New York at Delhi.
2. Compared to other New Hampshire hotels, what makes the Hanover Inn Dartmouth innovative and unique?
What makes us innovative and unique? I would have to say first and foremost our affiliation with Dartmouth College, as Dartmouth is a premier Ivy League educational institution and has owned this historic property since its inception in 1780 – 11 years after the College was founded. Additionally, the investment that Dartmouth College has made in the Hanover Inn, bringing this “Grand Dame” into the 21st Century and providing both state of the art facilities and environmental ly-efficient equipment and systems. This, along with the renovation and the opening of PINE ‘farm-to-fork’ restaurant and our gracious and attentive guest service has earned us the distinction of being recognized as a AAA Four Diamond hotel.
Our location in the heart of the quintessential New England town of Hanover, overlooking the Dartmouth Green, gives our guests spectacular views and the convenience of shops, galleries and attractions just steps from our front door. We are also a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America; and we’re the only AAA Four Diamond hotel located directly on the Appalachian Trail.
Our corner of the campus provides the conference facilities you’d expect of a world class educational institution. As one of the premiere high-tech conference facilities between Boston and Montreal, the Inn offers 11,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space in the Minary Conference Center plus access to the adjacent facilities of The Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts and The Hood Museum of Art.
3. For travelers interested in local culture, how can they experience this in the hotel?
The Hanover Inn is the prime location for experiencing this New England college town destination – one of a handful of “ivy” boutique hotels. Hanover was recognized in 2014 by BusinessInsider as #1 “best college town to live in” for its economic, social and cultural advantage rare in towns so far from major urban centers. Our Main Street location gives guests incredible access from within our hotel to Dartmouth museum exhibitions, arts performances, cultural assets and campus life.
The Inn sits across the Dartmouth Green from the iconic Dartmouth Baker Library with its vast collections, exhibits and famous bell tower. Nestled into the beautiful Upper Valley of the Connecticut River, close to the White Mountains, natural beauty has always been a draw for visitors, students and residents of Hanover. A true four-seasons destination, fall foliage, New England winter and the fresh breezes of summer that brought artists like Maxfield Parrish out of the city and into the nearby Cornish Art Colony. The Dartmouth College campus also features the José Clemente Orozco Murals: The Epic of American Civilization and the educational and is the “birthplace” of Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel, Dartmouth ‘25).
4. What outdoor activities are located nearby?
Outdoor attractions nearby include golf at the Hanover Country Club. Orrin Smith, a former construction superintendent for both Donald Ross and Willie Park, Jr., is credited with the design of the original 18-hole course. The Appalachian Trail runs past the front door and the Ledyard Canoe Club on the Connecticut River is a ½ mile away, while other offerings accessible from the hotel are the Olympics training grounds of the Dartmouth Skiway, Cross Country Ski Center and a variety of Dartmouth athletic events. Visitors enjoy tax-free shopping in downtown Hanover’s bookshops and galleries, including the gallery of the League of NH Craftsmen, the oldest juried crafts organization in America. Local outfitters provide birdwatching, kayaking, fly-fishing and seasonal dog-sledding on and around the Connecticut River.
5. Epicure & Culture readers love food and drink. What interesting culinary experiences does the Hanover Inn Dartmouth provide?
PINE Restaurant, a collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef/restaurateur Michael Schlow, opened in March 2013. “My goal with PINE was to create a restaurant that adapts to people’s needs while concentrating on using as many local products as possible,” said Schlow. “Executive Chef Justin Dain and I source New England seafood and locally produced meats and cheeses from the area. The menu is diverse, offering everything from fresh oysters, to loin of lamb with ‘quick ratatouille,’ to a signature burger.” To complement the menu, PINE offers 12 craft beers, a great cocktail list and a selection of wines available by the glass or by the bottle.
Our PINE bartender extraordinaire, James Ives, is the creator of “Restoration Cocktails,” 19th and early 20th century cocktails adapted for a modern palate with premium liquors, fresh juices and house-made infusions, bitters, shrubs and other ingredients. He enjoys working with guests to mix drinks that let them explore new flavors while appreciating some of the historic beverages of New England.
The inspiration for the name PINE comes from the fact that the pine tree is a treasured symbol of Dartmouth College, where the pines in the crest, the flag and the forest-like campus give Dartmouth its distinctive “green” reputation. The wood theme extends into the décor. The ceiling beams are re-purposed from a Dartmouth-owned barn. The menus, bound to wooden boards, highlight the restaurant’s distinctive American classics and drive home Schlow’s motto that less is more. Thanks to a collaboration with the Dartmouth College Organic Farm, the Inn’s “Clean Plate Club” means recycled kitchen scraps become the organic compost in which PINE’s vegetables are grown.
Starting in September PINE features outdoor dining on the PINE Porch, offering the complete PINE lunch and dinner menu in addition to our “restoration cocktails” menu from the PINE Bar.
6. In terms of sustainability the Hanover Inn Darmouth is one of the top in the state. When did the hotel decide to go green and what led to this decision?
The Hanover Inn Dartmouth was just named “Best Environmental Inn” by Yankee Magazine in its 2014 Best of New England issue. Because the Inn is owned by Dartmouth College, we adhere to the Dartmouth Sustainability Project; but in particular when the 2012-13 renovation got underway, we made the commitment to create and sustain environmentally-friendly materials and practices as much as possible.
7. What are some of the green projects the property is involved in?
There are several specific initiatives. One is the Clean Plate Club, which takes table scraps from all of our dining and banquet facilities and recycles them as compost for the Dartmouth Organic Farm. We also rely whenever we can on local purveyors on both sides of the Connecticut River: Boyden Farms beef from Cambridge, Vermont; Thistle Hill Farm cheese from Pomfret, Vermont; organic Killdeer Farm in Norwich, Vermont; Dartmouth Organic Farm.
Guests expect us to be as eco-conscious as they are at home, so we recycle paper, glass, plastic and tin, with in-room wastebaskets with dividers for separating different types of recyclables in our function rooms. Our guestrooms are equipped with Ving key card readers which, with the Orion Environmental System, tells us if a guest is in a room so we can manage the HVAC units of unoccupied guestrooms to reduce heating and electricity costs.
We also follow the Green Seal Standard to minimize the cleaning chemicals used throughout the hotel. Sheets and towels are changed every third day, unless guest asks to change them more often. We have reduced our water use by more than 75,000 gallons per year by installing water-free urinals in the men’s public restrooms. The environmental efficiencies do not stop there as the Hanover Inn is one of only six hotels in the United States to have a Meiko Flight Conveyor dishwasher. The Meiko M-IQ series of flight machines are among the most efficient dishwashers in the world, with water consumption as low as 56.2 gallons of water per hour. That low water consumption also dramatically reduces heating, detergent and rinse and consumption — using a fraction of the water to clean dishes compared to the more traditional hotel dishwashers.
8. How is the Hanover Inn Dartmouth approaching sustainability different from other hotels?
Hanover Inn Dartmouth participates fully in the Dartmouth College Sustainability Project and has the infrastructure of the college – waste management, recycling, the Dartmouth Organic Farm – to support that commitment.
9. Along with the above-mentioned sustainable initiatives, how else does the Hanover Inn Dartmouth appeal to responsible travelers?
In addition to supporting local farmers in the farm-to-fork restaurant PINE and other initiatives detailed above, Hanover Inn Dartmouth is an active member of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce and a sponsor of the Hanover Farmers Market as well as active in supporting local charities in the Hanover community. We host the annual Chefs of the Valley Mud Ball each May that is a fund-raiser for The Upper Valley Haven, dedicated to providing temporary shelter and educational programming for homeless families and adults as well as food and clothing to anyone in need for more than 30 years. Chefs from the region’s best restaurants, artisan cheese makers and beverage provisioners have helped raise over $30,000 each year for the Haven. In addition the Hanover Inn associates generously donate individually by providing canned foods and winter clothing to help support the Haven.
We also support the Prouty Century Ride & Challenge Walk, the signature event of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, a group of caring people dedicated to supporting cancer research, patient services and community outreach at Norris Cancer Center at Dartmouth. Each Veterans’ Day we prepare and serve a delicious lunch for more than 200 veterans, staff and supporters of the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton, New Hampshire on NH Veterans Homes Appreciation Day – and we give a 50% discount off our Best Available Room Rate to retired and active-duty military, law enforcement and firefighters with our Salute to the Troops promotion.
This September we will host a barbeque for the Local Hanover First Responders in support of their dedicated service to our community. We also help raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and the Jacob Beard lemonade project, also raising funds to fight childhood cancer.
10. What can guests expect from the rooms at the Hanover Inn Dartmouth?
Interior designer Bill Rooney has helped us completely transform the guestroom experience at the Hanover Inn Dartmouth. Now, all 108 rooms and suites incorporate locally-made Pompanoosuc Mills hard goods, luxury amenities including toiletries from Gilchrist & Soames, deluxe linens for both the bath and guest bed from TY Group, Simon Pearce handcrafted glass accents, wireless Internet access, flat-screen televisions, Tivoli clock radios, iPod docking stations, guestroom safes that can accommodate a computer and password-protected access to the Dartmouth College intranet. Now, in terms of design, amenities and the ‘green’ features I mentioned earlier, The Hanover Inn can proudly serve the 21st-century needs of the Dartmouth community, conference attendees and visitors.
11. For travelers wanting local cultural and culinary experiences, what would you recommend in the area?
In addition to the arts, cultural and recreational facilities of Dartmouth College detailed above, The Hanover Inn Dartmouth partners with several local museums and attractions. Our special packages and promotions showcase the destination, inviting guests to explore the best of the best: the Montshire Museum of Science, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and its raptor program, King Arthur Flour’s headquarters and cooking school, the Simon Pearce glass-blowing studio and the Saint Gaudens National Park, former summer home, studio and sculpture garden of famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens who created the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial to the black regiments of the Civil War, and the General Sherman and Farragut Memorials in New York City.
This post was made possible by our sponsor, The Hanover Inn Dartmouth. All photos are courtesy of The Hanover Inn Dartmouth.
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