BofA spends its green on green Ritz-Carlton


Bank of America may be bleeding red ink, but at least business travelers visiting its Charlotte, N.C. headquarters can stay in green luxury.

This October, BofA will open a 147-room Ritz-Carlton hotel that is certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as energy-efficient and sustainable. While banks obviously lend money to hotel developers all the time, in this case the bank will actually own the hotel.

Luxury hotels are having a rough year, with fewer people taking vacations and companies cutting back on junkets. The new Ritz's green status -- officially called a LEED certification -- might help it stand out from the pack. Eco-friendly touches include a roof garden, a ventilation system to bring in fresh air and bikes for guests to borrow.

For the most part, it's "stealth" environmentalism; guests won't notice anything different, but the building's impact on the earth will be reduced. Guest rooms will have typically Ritz touches like 400-count sheets and 42-inch LCD TVs (which, in case you're wondering, use less energy than their plasma counterparts).

Unfortunately, it'll still cost you plenty of green to stay green (prices haven't yet been set for the new property, but rooms at the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton start at $179 on the hotel's Web site, and suites will run up to $2,500 per night).

Some travel writers are also grumbling about Bank of America bankrolling what, from one perspective, amounts to a lavish pied-a-terre for its visiting execs while still hanging onto $45 billion in TARP bailout money. For its part, the bank says it isn't using TARP money to build the hotel, and the deal was sealed four years ago, well before the current recession was under way.

Originally published