INDIAN SHORES — At first glance, Legacy Vacation Resorts come with what travelers would expect from a three-star hotel in Florida: a waterfront view, lounge chairs by the pool, sleek, comfortable rooms.
But if they look a little closer they may notice a few things that aren’t as standard. There are no little bottles of shampoo or soap. Instead, there are refillable dispensers on the shower wall. The hotel doesn’t sell bottled water, but boxed water.
Legacy is the first hotel in Tampa Bay to get a B Corporation certification, which means it has registered with nonprofit B Lab and met certain standards for working conditions, wages, and environmental impact. Legacy was the first hospitality group with properties in multiple states to join the ranks of other so-called B Corp businesses. In total, just six of the more than 3,000 B Corp businesses worldwide are hospitality companies.
“We stand for so much more than making money,” said Legacy’s chairman Jared M. Meyers, “but it’s hard to trust that without a third party involved.”
Meyers said he wants his company to be an example for the hospitality industry at large.
“Greenwashing itself was invented by the hotel industry," he said.
Dating back to the 1960s, hotels would leave notes that asked guests to reuse towels or decline to have their bedding washed to “save the environment.” Really, it was so hoteliers could save money.
“The motivation behind that was not as ethical or honest," Meyers said.
But the involvement of B Lab requires accountability. Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s and clothing brands such as Patagonia and Eileen Fisher are also recognized by B Lab. In Florida, there are just over 20 businesses certified as B Corps, but few are in Tampa Bay. Most are concentrated in South Florida. Though Meyers’ other business, Salt Palm Development — another B Corp — is building a townhome building in St. Petersburg.
Legacy, which has its headquarters in Orlando, has electric charging stations for cars on all its properties. The Indian Shores hotel has been renovated steadily over the last few years for aesthetics and to meet the company’s new standards.
Lights have sensors so they turn off if no one is in the room and the hotel has cut back on single-use plastics. Guests can choose to have 5 percent of the profits from their stay donated to charity. Soon Legacy will cut even the boxed water in favor of free reusable bottles and filling stations.
The B Corporation website gives Legacy an “impact score” of 88.6. A business needs to hit at least 80 points to be certified. An “ordinary business,” according to B Lab, would score a median of about 51 points. The score evaluates factors such as wages, benefits and corporate culture.
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The company pledged to spend $300,000 a year on raises to ensure employees maintain a living wage and gives workers paid time off for volunteer activities.
Meyers said he expects more hoteliers to get B Corp certified in the coming years to keep up with the demands of the next generation of vacationers.
“To millennials and Gen Z, it’s very important to them that where they spend their money and where they work align with their values,” Meyers said.