The “Greenest” Hotel In America, The Proximity Hotel
June 23, 2021
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA — The posh Proximity Hotel exudes swank luxury, New York City style, down south in glorious Greensboro, North Carolina. It provides the essence of comfort and welcome to all who visit.
Greensboro is a city located halfway between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, GA. It is a great place to visit in any season, a wonderful center of art, music, history and culture. While there is much to do in Greensboro, a stay at the unforgettable Proximity Hotel is a joy all in itself.
The Proximity Hotel was named after the box-like Proximity Mill, a cotton and sawmill that existed in the 1800’s. It was carefully constructed and modeled after the old mill with artistic steel staircases and other decor. Touches of the aged and tarnished made us feel right at home as in the cool lofts available in our home base of New York City. Our large room had two queen comfortable beds and, due to the unique air filtration system provided, we slept exceptionally well. Music lifts your senses as well. One special staff member’s job is to choose the music selections. (How did they know our favorite, soothing melodies)? Guests can even hear music underwater in the swimming pool!
There is so much greenery! In fact, the Proximity Hotel is rated the “greenest hotel in America” and it prides itself on this distinction. As guests we were welcome to tour the hotel and our kind and knowledgeable guide explained what goes into the Proximity Hotel’s high “green” rating. Built in 2007, it was the first Leed Platinum hotel in North America, a coveted award, given only to a handful of buildings worldwide. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building, four-tiered credit-based system that awards points based on compliance with different aspects of sustainability. LEED Platinum is the highest rating possible.
Owner Dennis Quaintance, who gained a lot of his ideas in London and other travels, with his business partner Mike Weaver, demonstrated their concerns for Mother Nature and the local environment. The swimming pool is filled with salt water and the irrigation system gathers up rainwater. The Blue Bell gardens are so-named because the Blue Bell plants are indigenous and native to North Carolina.
The hotel is self-sustained and has its own painter, Chip Holton, (who was beginning to add color to the paintings in the 132 guest rooms), and a florist, Tom Grandy, who chooses the lovely flowers around the Proximity.
It’s ironic that the green Proximity Hotel is located in Greensboro, North Carolina, which, in 1781, was named after American Major General Nathaniel Greene. The word “green” seems to fit the city, as has it 177 parks, including the Guilford Courthouse Military Park. The hotel provides many amenities that complement the “greenery”, including stylish bicycles that guests can use to pedal on the “greenway” road to make their stay even “greener.”
While it is luxurious at the hotel, it is surprisingly affordable as the Proximity offers many tempting promotions to make it an attainable getaway. It is definitely less expensive than a comparable stay in New York City, Washington D.C., or London. And there are free amenities galore: Wi-Fi, the New York Times delivered daily, airport shuttles, a salt-water swimming pool, bicycles, and lots more.
The Proximity Hotel has a sister site, the “O.Henry Hotel,” named after the famed author William Sydney Porter, whose pen name was “O. Henry,” and who was a Greensboro native. It was a 300-room hotel, built in 1919, but demolished in 1979, and rebuilt in the late 1990s. It also is a Quaintance-Weaver hotel.
Celebrities such as Oprah, Michael Jordan and even Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have stayed at this hotel group. Many guests are business or leisure travelers, but couples, singles and families are all welcome here.
At the restaurants associated with the O.Henry, food is spectacular. You can dine at the plush Green Valley Grill, with its Mediterranean food, or at the Lucky 32 Southern for a real American comfort meal. Guests can ride to the O.Henry from the Proximity in one of the many stylish, vintage vehicles provided.
At the Proximity Hotel, we descended the winding metal stairs or used the elevator and dined in style at the hotel’s amazing signature restaurant, the Print Works Bistro. The food there was so delicious we are still dreaming about it, wanting to eat it all again. This is the kind of place where celebrations of all kinds are held, from anniversaries to birthdays, or just to enjoy life, as we did. Many people we met during our visit in Greensboro chatted with us about their memories of dining at Print Works. One woman at a music festival we attended said her husband proposed marriage to her there. It’s that kind of place.
Carla loves her plate of comfort food at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen at the O. Henry Hotel, the sister hotel of Proximity. Photo by Jason Rupp
We enjoyed the eggs benedict for breakfast at the Printworks Bistro inside the Proximity Hotel. Photo by Jason Rupp
Our memories are vivid as well! We remember the best cinnamon rolls, pastries and beignets ever! The black coffee is amazing! Vegetables, such as beets, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, and tomatoes are amazingly fresh as most of the ingredients used are grown locally. Desserts are out of this world! It was like eating in Europe, without the flight, over the water. And all this takes place in a vibrant dining room with walls of windows overlooking gardens or on the creek-side terrace.
The food is amazing at Proximity Hotel. Photo by Jason Rupp
The freshly baked cinnamon roll buns had us on a happy sugar high. Photo by Carla Marie Rupp
The secret is out about the value and enjoyment of Proximity Hotel. We met hotel guests from all over the country, even abroad. The polite, friendly staffers were top-notch in helping us feel welcome both in the restaurant and in the hotel. Even the front desk staff was exceptional in showing us the fleet of vintage vehicles for shuttling to and from our activities. The goals and achievements of the proprietors, the warmth of the people, and the amazing food made our experience overwhelmingly favorable. No wonder we thought we would write about it!
Greensboro, North Carolina is a university city with so much to do. There are demonstrations of the arts and you can visit murals and parks, go shopping, dine at cafes, visit breweries and even do historical research. There is much Revolutionary War history, as the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a strategic victory for the Americans, was fought here in 1781. Also, this is where the sit-ins at the F. W. Woolworth counter occurred, which were the catalyst for the widespread Civil Rights Movement.
We toured the International Civil Rights Museum, where you can see the historic lunch counter where the so-called Greensboro Four—David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair and Joseph McNeil—first initiated sit-ins at the start of the 1960s at this site. Civil Rights history was made in Greensboro with their bravery. We learned more in this well-organized, even at times shocking and certainly educational museum and tour than out of any history book.
On our last day in Greensboro, we visited the Greensboro Science Museum and Skywild. It was a thrill when we petted a live penguin with the required three fingers while a guide held the penguin.
Replacements Ltd, the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles is also well worth a tour. So huge, it has 12 million pieces of inventory from over 400,000 patterns in a warehouse the size of eight football fields.
There are many great festivals and events throughout the summer and fall in Greensboro. After the National Folk Festival was held in Greensboro for three consecutive years, the city began holding an annual North Carolina Folk Festival, with talented musicians of all kinds on a variety of stages. Arts and crafts and food vendors are popular at the festival, which is produced by ArtsGreensboro in early September, the weekend after Labor Day.
Our friend Amy Scott took us to a few of her local favorite places to eat away from the hotel like the Iron Hen and the Smith Street Diner. We definitely agree with her appraisal that in North Carolina everybody is friendly and nice to everyone they meet. This was our experience in Greensboro and we were surprised to encounter so many people from New York City.