Implementing a Water Conservation Program at Your Hotel

By Russ Horner Co-founder, Water Management, Inc. | March 10, 2013

In the last 30 years, water and sewer rates have increased faster than even the cost of oil. The typical busy hotel manager and engineer has an overflowing plate and now they must add the management and reduction of water and waste water costs. In this article, we will look at:

  • The rising cost of water bills
  • Water use benchmarks for hotels
  • Getting started, and
  • An introduction to new national codes, standards and rating systems that will impact hotel operations.

Future articles will drill down into actual ways to reduce water use, techniques to calculate payback, and ways to make water efficiency work for them.

Rising Costs

Silently, almost out of notice, water and wastewater costs have been skyrocketing. As the following graph shows, water and wastewater rates nationally have risen even faster than oil over the last thirty years, and based on recent trends, this increase is not slowing down. Many hotel managers are finding that becoming more water efficient is a very effective way to improve their bottom line.

According to the Earth Policy Institute, between 2002 and 2007, municipal water rates increased an average of 27 percent in the United States, 32 percent in the United Kingdom, 45 percent in Australia, 50 percent in South Africa, and 58 percent in Canada. This is a worldwide trend.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.