Green Hotels: Eco-Friendly Principles and Best Practices

In our modern world today, every human activity has a significant impact on the environment and companies can no longer promote growth without a commitment to preserve our resources. Within the hotel industry, sustainable development is emerging as a critical and necessary component of corporate strategy; one that influences every aspect of its operations. A policy of sustainable development affects architecture, financial, regulatory, operational, human resources, and sales and marketing departments. Hotels that are successfully integrating eco-friendly practices into their operations are finding ways to maintain a focus on careful stewardship of their resources, as well as attention on the people who use and work in the hotel. The sustainability initiative goes beyond such well-known ideas as reusing guest linens, recycling waste materials, and changing to compact fluorescent lamps. The strategy also includes community involvement by buying locally, supporting charities, and encouraging employees to volunteer in the community, as well as participating in global award and certification programs. In addition, leading hotels are finding that by investing time, energy and resources into improving their green credentials, there are great promotional opportunities for their stakeholders, especially their guests. Operating sustainably helps an operation to gain a competitive edge by appealing to the growing share of consumers seeking greener travel products and services. And all of this must be accomplished while maintaining a profitable operation. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some leading hotels are integrating these strategies into their operations and how they are profiting from them.

Library Archives

Mandy Chomat

One of the world’s most desirable destinations, Riviera Maya has become a hub of ecotourism thanks to its biodiversity and varied landscapes along the Caribbean coastline. As the Mexican Caribbean has become one of the. fastest growing tourism destinations globally over the past 20 years, organizations and hospitality partners have implemented programs and practices encouraging sustainability and environmental responsibility. El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma is a leader in this sector, integrating employee and guest education as well as property-wide initiatives and the installation of the region’s largest greenhouse, which spans 100, 000 square feet. READ MORE

Sharon Alton

If your hotel books any group business through meeting planners, then you know the importance of differentiating yourself from your competition.  We have been in an extremely rate-driven period in recent years, and forecasts suggest this trend is unlikely to change in the near future.  While our revenue experts are hard at work trying to find the magical rate that wins business without giving our product away, there is a green little green secret in the marketplace that is producing significant revenue for hotels and resorts.  Now, some hotel operators believe they have already succeeded in this area, other operators do not think the upside will be worth their efforts, but therein lies the secret. Those hotels that operate in an environmentally-conscious manner and know how to capitalize on their efforts have found the secret. READ MORE

Jerry  Cerand

Year after year, locally sourced and locally grown products have consistently been among the top food trends in the hospitality industry. Yet, without adequate information about why and how to go local you may view it as daunting and beyond your reach. From the distinction in freshness and quality that local products offer to the positive economic impact on your business and your community, there are valuable reasons for local purchasing. Once you’re committed to going local, it’s necessary to understand what it takes to successfully integrate local buying into your procurement strategy. Defining what local means for your business and learning how to effectively work with suppliers are among the key goals you should set. READ MORE

Emily Williams-Knight

From luxury spots to family friendly destinations, there is surge of sustainable-focused careers in hotels. With the World Travel & Tourism Council sharing that the travel industry is projected to grow by an average of four percent annually throughout the next 10 years (equating to 10 percent of global GDP or $10 trillion US dollars by 2022)1, there have certainly been concerns about waste management, habitat degradation, over-consumption and pollution. In addition to the clear environmental benefits, there are several reasons why hotels pursue sustainability, such as gaining market share and generating positive PR, along with the potential to increase profits by cutting costs and increasing operational efficiencies. READ MORE

Herve  Houdre

Sustainable Development is a fairly new concept in the hotel industry and though many hoteliers have included it in their strategy, it does not yet have the recognition it deserves in view of the better revenues and margins it can develop. The challenge comes from lack of concerted engagement of industry stakeholders, from owners to suppliers, from employees to customers. The Sustainable business model is still in its infancy and there is a long journey ahead, so let’s be positive and Let’s Get Engaged! READ MORE

Diana K. Bulger

In response to the nation’s Honeybee shortage and as part of the hotel’s environmental stewardship program, Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown welcomed 105, 000 Italian honeybees to their new home in May of 2009. The rooftop of Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown is abuzz with four large honey beehives and their ecologically important residents. The bees enhance the hotel’s culinary program, as does its interior courtyard garden which provides fresh herbs, edible blossoms, plants, trees and flowers to the surrounding Georgetown neighborhood. READ MORE

Don  Shindle

The hospitality industry has seen significant change as green initiatives and sustainability have taken a more prominent role in today’s world and in the consciousness of our guests and our staff. Hotel operators across the globe are held increasingly accountable to a “worldwide global citizenship” standard. This is a term that our team fully embraces here at The Westin Verasa Napa. We understand how significant this responsibility is and the importance of sustainability on a long-term basis. As a community leader, we are committed to positively contributing to our environmental well-being now and in our future endeavors. READ MORE

Pamela  Parsons

Sustainable design makes a difference. The national government believes it, corporations believe it, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes it, and hoteliers are beginning to believe it. But do hotel guests really think it matters? In the forward to Hotel, Design, Planning and Development, by Penner, Adams, and Robson, architect Michael Graves opines that architects and designers “believe that guests appreciate the healthful aspects of environmentally responsible places, as much as they appreciate good design.” This assumption is, at least in part, the driving force behind the growth in green hotels. READ MORE

John Cario

As kids we probably all heard our parents tell us not to waste our food. Ever since our opening in the restored historic Miller & Rhoads department store building, our Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown takes that sentiment to heart. Our hotel established a baseline environmental program in 2010 and made commitments to continuously improve our environmental performance over time. In March 2011, we made the decision to begin composting our food wastes. Since then, the hotel has diverted nearly 30 tons of food waste from piling up in landfills. We are the first and only hotel in the region to compost its food wastes. READ MORE

Christopher  Bush

It was only natural that the son of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau would carry on his father’s legacy of conservation through education. Thrown overboard into the ocean by his father when he was seven years old, Jean-Michel Cousteau has since dedicated his life to preserving the seas. As the founder of the Ocean Futures Society, Cousteau has produced dozens of films, written hundreds of articles and developed school curricula that strengthen the critical bond between people and the sea. In 1989, seeking to demonstrate the economic benefits of sound environmental practices, Cousteau first associated himself with the Jean-Michel Cousteau resort in Fiji. READ MORE

Lawrence Adams

As hotel owners invest in sustainable systems and obtain LEED certification they look for the benefits that derive from their investments. Savings in energy costs and water bills may be evident on the hotel's financial books but the hotel's contribution to the health of the planet may not always be evident to the guests. Many hotels feel it is important to wear their LEED badge on their sleeve by having visible attributes such as solar panels, retention ponds, solar shading and wind generators as physical evidence of their good deeds. These hotels are striving to be conspicuously sustainable. READ MORE

Robert Kwortnik

As the international tourism industry grapples with increasingly complex matter of sustainability reporting, a series of roundtables and studies developed by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research focus on the "material items, " that is, the practices and products that count the most in a hotel or restaurant's carbon footprint. These material items are the key issues for stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and regulators, and these items have the greatest impact on a company's sustainability profile. While there is some variation in the material items for various businesses, the most important issues are remarkable similar across different industries. READ MORE

Rob  Howell

Sustainability has become an important part of the lodging industry. In addition to our responsibility to the guest, the staff, and the ownership, we have a responsibility to the environment. Many articles have been written about the programs that can be incorporated into properties operations to promote sustainability. However, managing a historic property’s environmental footprint may increase the challenge. READ MORE

Rauni Kew

Sustainability is not just the most responsible approach to hotel operations, but can be an efficient and powerful tool for generating revenue. Hoteliers generally agree sustainable operations are financially beneficial and most have realized savings from reductions around waste, water, energy and chemicals. But many still hesitate to market their properties’ green initiatives. Inn by the Sea, on the coast of Maine, has had green design features coupled with guest-centric programs around sustainability in place for over a decade, and has had great success marketing the property as both a luxury and a green hotel. READ MORE

James O'Donnell

Vail Resorts Hospitality is made up of six flagship RockResorts properties including The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Lodge at Vail, The Osprey at Beaver Creek, The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek and One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge in Colorado and Half Moon, Jamaica, as well as hotels and condominiums located in proximity to Vail Resorts’ mountain resorts in Colorado and Lake Tahoe, and four destination resorts at the Grand Teton Lodge Company near Jackson, Wyo. Throughout our hospitality division, we provide a variety of green elements couples can incorporate into their wedding plans, from requesting organic and local cuisine, to creating beautiful and sustainable decorative arrangements. Moreover, sustainability practices such as recycling, waste reduction and energy/water conservation are automatically part of all resort events. We believe couples can say "I do, " without saying "I don't" to Mother Nature. READ MORE

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.