From the moment I entered the parking lot at element West Des Moines (an element BY WESTIN hotel) there was no doubt this new property has a green focus. A sign near one parking space read “Electric Vehicle Charging Station” and several other signs stated “Low Emitting & Fuel Efficient Vehicles Only.” As I walked through the front door, two bicycles on the entry wall attracted my attention.

element West Des Moines

Two bicycles for guests are stored in the front entryway. Photo courtesy Lisa Waterman Gray

Stepping Inside element West Des Moines

The sleek, bright lobby was filled with wood, neutral carpet and upholstery, while small decorative pillows provide pops of color. Nearby, the light and airy dining area features complimentary morning meals with hot breakfast sandwiches, refreshing smoothies, as well as fresh fruit, gourmet coffee and other goodies.

element West Des Moines

The bright, modern lobby at element West Des Moines has a welcoming vibe.

Near the hotel’s front door, a short ‘fence’ encircled water and food bowls and a pet bed. The only charge for traveling with your four-legged friend is a $50 room cleaning fee.

Another great feature? In this hotel full of kitchenettes, microwaveable meals filled shelves and a tall refrigerator behind the minimalist check-in desk contained wine and chilled beverages. There were plenty of munchies on hand as well. Guests can access complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel.

element West Des Moines

The expansive terrace and hot tub draw many guests who want to relax and unwind. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

I caught a glimpse of the indoor pool and small fitness center as I checked in, while a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked an expansive terrace. On this cool evening, families and friends congregated throughout multiple conversation areas and around outdoor tables. Other guests enjoyed the small outdoor hot tub as the sun set.

My Room at element West Des Moines

Because I had arrived in the evening, I immediately went to turn on the floor lamp in my small living room—but no luck! That’s when I noticed a master switch on the wall beside the entry door. This was only the beginning of green features throughout my suite, which included the front room, an expansive kitchenette, a spacious bath with large tiled shower, and nice-sized bedroom. A trashcan beneath the living room desk was designated for paper, bottles or cans.

element West Des Moines

Twenty-four hotel suites feature separate living room areas. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Throughout the suite small, strategically placed signs educated me regarding the hotel’s environmental commitment. One placed on my 3/4-size refrigerator reminded me of the hotel’s LEED status and mentioned their eco-friendly carpets and low-VOC paint (Volatile Organic Compounds are common in traditional paint). Another kitchen sign encouraged guests to check the hotel’s welcome page to order fresh groceries.

As I turned on bathroom lights, I noticed a sign that touted the hotel’s low-flow faucets and high-efficiency lighting, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. All toiletries featured certified organic ingredients with shampoo and conditioner dispensers mounted on the shower wall and, of course, the toilet paper was Green Seal Certified.

elements West Des Moines

Wall-mounted shampoo and conditioner reduce waste. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Although the living room couch didn’t initially look comfortable, my impression changed while I enjoyed wine and snacks after my long drive. As I searched for a glass in the kitchenette I found cabinets fully stocked with cloth napkins and multiple small bowls, plates and coffee mugs. A frying pan and several pots were stored beneath the small electric range with a microwave and toaster above the countertop, where a small coffee pot and fixings sat. Much to my surprise there was even a dishwasher in the compact space.

element West Des Moines

Suite kitchenettes feature every modern convenience and accessory. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

Before bed I checked out the spacious bedroom closet, which also featured three drawers and a small safe. If I had stayed longer I would have definitely used the comfy chair and ottoman across the room. Accompanied by a small table, it would be a great spot to eat a leisurely private breakfast.

A comfortable chair and ottoman sat in one corner of the bedroom.

I lowered wall-spanning fabric panels on each window, which created the feel of a cozy, private retreat. Cozy continued, with comfortable natural linens.

element West Des Moines

The bedroom felt especially cozy with window blinds shut. Photo by Lisa Waterman Gray

If You Go to element West Des Moines

element West Des Moines is approximately 12 miles from Des Moines International Airport. Multiple restaurants and shopping are within walking (or biking distance) from the hotel’s front door. This green hotel operates in the Village of Ponderosa, a modern mixed-use real estate development that also features individual houses as well as townhomes and lofts, amid tree-lined streets.

Clean and modern, with a big green focus, element West Des Moines is located at 575 Prairie View Drive, West Des Moines, Iowa. Call 515.661.4345 or visit online. Depending on specific reservation dates, room rates start in the mid-$150s and AAA members enjoy special deals.

Check out more green hotels on Wander.


Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

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The element West Des Moines by WESTIN hotels is a relatively new property with a decidedly green focus, but with plenty of style and welcoming comfort.