ANNAPOLIS, Md. — From honeybees that buzz on a hotel rooftop to electric shuttles that quietly and cleanly transport visitors through its winding, narrow streets, Annapolis has become a harbor town with a green streak.
Even the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau is getting in on the act, becoming the nation’s first destination marketing organization to offer complimentary electric-powered shuttle transportation aboard its Come Sail Away-branded eCruiser.
The bureau partnered with eCruiser owner Russell Rankin, who has a fleet of 10 eCruisers. Visitors who flag down the five-passenger, environmentally sound car are treated to more than a free ride, according to Connie Del Signore, CVB president and CEO.
“The drivers are well versed in all that there is to do and see in Annapolis. They hand out our visitors guides; let passengers know about member restaurants, accommodations and events; and build goodwill for the destination by serving as a mobile extension of our 26 West Street visitors center.
“Now, after our Volunteer Information Specialists tell vacationers all there is to do, Russell and his team can take them where they want to go.”
Here are some other green initiatives undertaken by Annapolis hotels and transportation companies.
• The 120-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott Annapolis has taken its green efforts to new heights by installing 189 solar panels on its roof. The move to solar, believed to be the first by a hotel in Maryland, should shave 20 percent off the hotel’s energy costs. The panels are among several energy-conserving measures at the hotel, which also has motion-triggered thermostats and recycling bins.
• The Loews Annapolis Hotel has become the first hotel in the mid-Atlantic to offer electric vehicle recharging. According to general manager James LoBosco, guests can recharge their electric cars at a charging station installed by Annapolis-based SemaConnect Inc. In addition, the eCruiser electric car that provides shuttle service for the hotel recharges on site.
• Early this year, a number of Annapolis restaurants teamed with eCruiser electric cars to provide complimentary electric shuttle service from any location in the historic Annapolis and Eastport areas served by eCruiser. Restaurants include Galway Bay, the Federal House, Harry Browne’s, the Reynolds Tavern, the Middleton Tavern, O’Brien’s Oyster Bar and Breeze Restaurant at the Loews Annapolis Hotel.
• Free Wheelin’ Bike Rentals is a little-known program that allows visitors to tool around Annapolis in a free and green way.
The free bikes are available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week from June through Oct. 1. Riders must be at least 18. A photo ID and credit card are required to check out a bike at the Harbor Master’s office. Last summer 700 bikes were rented.
• Getting out on the water in this picturesque port city is a must, and now visitors can make minimal environmental impact as they make waves. S.J. Koch Duffy Electric Boat Rentals began renting 10-passenger, 22-foot electric boats in late 2009. Boats can be rented with or without a captain for an hour or the entire day. No boating experience is required, but individuals must be at least 21. The electric boats are docked at the Chart House Restaurant pier in Eastport.
• The Westin Annapolis doesn’t have bees in its bonnet, but it does have two honeybee hives on its rooftop. The hotel’s executive chef, James Barrett, is an avid apiarist, having learned the art of beekeeping from his father 30 years ago.
Barrett plans to use the 120 pounds of honey that the hives are expected to produce each year in the hotel’s kitchen. He has already developed a honey-lacquered hot smoked salmon and is working on some other new treats, including a honey cashew brittle.
“Once it is harvested, we plan to make the honey a signature item,” Barrett said. “We’ll use it in everything from daily food specials to an extra-special leave-behind for sales calls in special 2-ounce jars embossed with the hotel logo and a honeybee.”
The two hives are located on the hotel’s second-story rooftop, visible to all guest rooms that face the front of the hotel.