Green hotel concepts of the future
The hotels of the future are green. With the current crisis providing both a challenge and an opportunity, hoteliers are evaluating their policies and practices increasing their attractiveness to eco-conscious guests – and they have a huge potential market. According to recent reports, 70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to book accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.
For hotels seeking inspiration, establishments across the world are reaping the benefits of new green concepts already proving their worth.
Single-use, plastic-free, eco travel and giving back to the community
Cambodia’s Jaya House Angkor Park hotel is the first in the country to ban all single-use plastics as part of the Refill Not Landfill campaign and provides free bikes for guests, encouraging eco-friendly travel. It also contributes to local NGOs and is a collaborator on the Ten Thousand Trees initiative which aims to plant drought-resistant Moringa trees across the Siem Reap province.
Going vegan all the way
The first vegan hotel in the UK, Saorsa 1875, is entirely plant-based – from food and alcohol, to cleaning products, furniture and more. Heating comes from 100% renewable energy, and the hotel plants a tree via the Green Earth Appeal for each dinner it serves to guests. Its eco credentials also won it a first prize in National Geographic’s Big Sleep Awards 2020.
Villa Copenhagen’s ‘Earth Suite’ is a fully-sustainable suite made entirely of recycled materials and textiles, with eco-friendly furnishings by Mater Design. This Danish hotel also boasts carbon-free dining and zero food waste in the kitchen and has established partnerships with local businesses that share the same eco consciousness. It’s a combination of luxury and sustainability that’s appealing to travelers looking to reduce their imprint on the environment in style.
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Designed to meet the Paris Agreement environmental standards, Norway’s Svart will be the world’s first energy-positive Powerhouse hotel – and plans to be fully off-grid within five years of opening. Through sustainable farming, waste recycling, hydro and solar power and heat recycling from data centers, it’s aiming for full self-sufficiency in electricity, water and waste management – and 85% less energy consumption than other modern hotels. Svart is due to open in 2022/3.
Adopting a greener mindset
For hotels embracing a more sustainable outlook, making the necessary changes to processes, providers and protocols is quite literally a strategy that needs to be implemented from the ground up. Engaging decision makers among the staff is key, but so too is bringing more junior members on board to help make the incremental cultural shifts that add up. Equally, guest engagement is a vital part of the process to ensure their cooperation, whether that’s in using water refill stations or reusing towels.
There are a number of ways that hoteliers can engage their employees and guests. These include:
Making a difference today for tomorrow
While meeting the high ideals of the world’s most innovative eco hotels might be beyond the reach of many hoteliers, significant transformation is still possible through the targeted upgrade of existing systems.
1. Reducing water usage
A hotel may use an average of 1,500 litres of water per room per day, and with water scarcity affecting more than 40% of the world’s population and counting, reducing wastage is essential. And there’s a financial incentive too in the rising costs of water. For example, a recent major survey of US cities showed an increase of 55% in water bills since 2010.
A number of different strategies are currently being used to conserve water globally, from regular water tracking and leak detection to eco-friendly toilets and showers. With laundry typically accounting for about 16% of a hotel’s water usage, low water washing machines can offer considerable savings, while the Asia Pacific region in particular has embraced rainwater capture to supplement its supply.
2. Replacing plastics with reusable options
The world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott International, has taken small plastic toiletries and single-use plastics out of circulation. Its 500 million bathroom miniatures have been replaced with pump-operated alternatives, reducing its plastic usage by 30%.
And legislation could soon be forcing the hand of many hoteliers to follow suit. In California for example, a law banning mini bottles in hotels is due to take effect by 2024.
3. Switching to clean energy
Only 21% of hotels currently have on-site renewable energy, according to the last Green Lodging Trends Report. Most still rely on fossil fuels even though there’s money to be saved in switching.
Solar power, for example, is now the “cheapest source of electricity in history” according to the International Energy Agency. And renewable energy generally can also offer good price stability, security of supply and lower energy bills, plus the possibility of selling electricity back to the grid.
4. Making good food sense
Buying local, seasonal produce is another way to reduce emissions and improve the quality of the food served – and changing some of the daily specials to vegetarian options benefits the planet and your profit margin.
Minimizing food waste is also an essential part of the process – and this includes rethinking buffets, one of the biggest culprits. The MGM Gold Strike Resort and Casino in the US proved the point when it prioritized waste reduction on its ‘all you can eat’ buffet and slashed waste by more than 80%, as well as reducing food costs by 5% in the first year.
Hoteliers are also putting time and effort into creating on-site gardens which boost traceability and transparency within the supply chain as well as improving the overall environmental footprint. International hotel chain Accor Hotels has created gardens in 600 of its properties to meet its target of reducing food waste by 30%.
Meanwhile, Karisma Hotels boast of the 70,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse at the Generations Riviera Maya hotel in Mexico. It covers up to 80% of the hotel’s culinary requirements depending on the season and saves up to 10% of its food costs.
There’s clearly a strong business case for action as well as an environmental one. Within the first year of implementing a food waste-reduction program, over 70% of sites recoup their investment and save, on average, USD 7 for every dollar invested.
5. Reducing waste
From upcycling and recycling to electronic invoicing and bamboo straws, hotels across the world are taking steps, large and small, to reduce the waste products they send to toxic landfill sites.
Alila Hotels has implemented a ‘zero waste to landfill’ policy and achieved its goal in four Bali properties. Alila Villas Uluwatu is one of them. Here, organic waste is composted while inorganic waste is sorted manually, and glass items are crushed in its on-site Sustainability Lab to make building materials. It also uses re-usable and washable hotel slippers made from recycled tyres.
For those hotels aiming to increase their sustainability, funding is available to support their initiatives. At the end of 2020, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, agreed a green loan of USD143 million for Thailand’s top hotel group AWC – and it’s just one example.
Another is Germany’s KfW, one of the world’s largest financiers of renewable energy, which celebrated the sixth-year anniversary of its award-winning Green Bond Program in 2020.
If you’re focused on going green with your supplier choices, HRS can make it easier to build a clearer picture of your supply chain. Our hotel and service partners can help you make more sustainable choices to ensure your hotel is keeping up with the industry’s green momentum.
As environmental awareness increases, greater transparency around sustainability compliance becomes a point of differentiation that allows eco-friendly lodgings to stand out. Find out how the HRS platform is supporting them in conjunction with the Green Stay Initiative.