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Sunday, August 31, 2008

THE GREEN ZONE

Eco Entry Cards

Ever feel guilty about forgetting to turn in those plastic keys at the end of a hotel stay? Some companies are beginning to ease guests' concerns by experimenting with keys made of wood, paper, corn and other recyclable materials.

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The nation's first wood key card (at right) debuted last week in Denver as part of the Democratic National Convention's eco-friendly push. Sustainable Cards, based in Boulder, Colo., donated 70,000 keys to hotels hosting conventioneers.

Damen Kompanowski, general manager of the Denver Airport Marriott at Gateway Park, said his hotel had been eager to try the cards in light of customer demands for greener services. "We get the question every day: 'What are you doing to make your hotel more eco-friendly?' " he said. "We love the look of the keys. The guests love them. It makes that check-in process just a little more fun."

It turns out there's a downside to wood keys: Some of them crack, break or become warped because they're not as strong as plastic. But Kompanowski said he is looking at several different products, and Sustainable Cards spokeswoman Cori Keeton Pope said the company is getting feedback from Denver hotel operators in order to make "any necessary manufacturing adjustments to make sure they're offering the best possible alternative to plastic key cards."

SPA WEEK

Muscle Relaxant

Get your knotted muscles and chipped pedicures ready: Spa Week, with its prix-fixe treatments, is coming to town.

Which town depends on where you are that week: Boston, San Diego, Atlanta, Dallas, etc. The special event features more than 750 facilities around the country, with participating massage tables in more than a dozen states, including more than three dozen in the Washington area. And although the locations vary, the cost does not. The price is set at $50 for any type of indulgence.

The twice-a-year event takes place Sept. 15-21 on the West Coast and Oct. 13-19 in the Midwest and on the East Coast. The West Coast spas are already taking phone reservations; the rest of the nation will be open for bookings beginning Sept. 15.

Spa Week was started in October 2004 by stressed New Yorker Cheryl Reid, whose goal was to bring pampering to the masses. "Many of us can't afford dishing out $100, $150, $200 on a massage or facial," Lindsey Gockenbach, vice president of marketing for Spa Week, said by e-mail. "By making spa treatments affordable, we are truly changing the perception of the spa lifestyle and bringing forth the health benefits of spa treatments."

For first-timers, Gockenbach recommends "playing it safe" with a massage or facial. Experts, however, might want to experiment with, say, ear candling, acupuncture or an insanely deep massage that will last until the next Spa Week, in spring.

Info: http://www.spaweek.org.

TRAVEL TICKER

On Monday, Hayden Hurst of Arlington joined the Travel section's online chat to tell us about his recent trip to Austin, where he heard lots of live music, went to museums and ate at terrific restaurants. The capper, he said, was that his hotel had a waffle iron that made Texas-shape waffles.

Ever the faithful chatter, he followed up by telling us it was the La Quinta Inn Capitol that provided the festive breakfast food. And then Hurst went one better: Later in the week he sent us a photo of his breakfast waffle (see below).

We love it! Anyone else have amazing meals they've memorialized during a trip? We'd love to see the pictures!

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

Receive sale fares to London, plus a free two-day London Pass, with a deal from British Airways. Round-trip fare from Washington Dulles is $628, including taxes, for travel Oct. 23-Dec. 17; other airlines are matching the fare. The pass provides discounts to 55 sightseeing venues and usually costs $88. Travel Monday-Wednesday for cheapest fares. Book by Sept. 4 at http://www.ba.com/labor, or pay $20 more at 800-247-9297.

Reporting: Juliet Eilperin, Andrea Sachs

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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