World Environment Day 2019 on June 5, to be hosted in China, comes with an agenda to spread the message to adopt green technology and renewable energies. From among the numerous industries which impact the environment, the hospitality sector is a significant contributor by not only using resources like energy and water every day but solid waste and effluents are also generated in abundance.
Being a major customer and service oriented industry, it has to cater to the whims and fancies of demanding clients, who expect as part of the hospitality experience, indulgences such as rain showers, a generous stock of towels, freshly laundered linen, a lavish spread of food and drink, swimming pools and saunas. Any measures taken to reduce the environmental impact of hotels can only be either with the concurrence of guests or taking the main concern as guest satisfaction. In most hotels, guests are given the option of contributing to environmental practices by reusing towels and linen, opting for showers rather than baths, to save water and energy. Education and awareness on water conservation to all guests and staff also form an important step. To minimise buffets according to the occupancy at the property and prepare food on order only, helps reduce kitchen wastage.
Let us find out how some of the hotels have gone green, embraced responsible luxury and have set an example to tackle the environmental issues, yet make their guests feel pampered without unsettling their expectations of a comfortable stay.
Prachika Saxena, Director of Human Resource at Conrad Pune, informs, “Conrad, as the first luxury brand of Hilton in India, is extremely aware and cautious of the environment it operates in. One of the biggest focus is “No plastic waste” in our hotels. No plastic laundry bags, 50% reduction in usage of cling films, switching to bio-degradable garbage bags and besides this, dry garbage is picked up by SwaCH organisation. Conrad Pune is also the biggest contributor to Sundara, for recycling soap and distributing the same in rural areas for hygiene and sanitation purposes.”
According to Victor Chen, General Manager, Le Meridien Goa Calangute, “At Le Meridien Goa, energy conservation and environmental sustainability are core focus and rooted in the company’s ethos of ‘Preserve the Earth’. We have carefully considered the various touch points across the hotel and how we can be more environmentally conscious and elevate guest experience, by doing our bit to reduce the impact on the environment.” In all the rooms, aesthetically pleasing jute slippers and jute bags have replaced terry bathroom slippers and plastic/paper bags. At the restaurants and bars, paper straws and wooden stirrers are used instead of plastic straws and stirrers. Recycled paper for note pads, eco-friendly pencils, water in glass bottles, solar panels, decomposer to recycle waste food to manure are some of the other sustainability measures.
Throwing light on these techniques, Chen reveals, “Marriott International has a system called MESH which records data on a monthly basis and tracks – carbon per room, water per room, energy intensity, water diversion rate and more such parameters. We review this report on a monthly basis with the property General Manager and our teams to identify areas of opportunity, appreciate good work and share best practices.”
Shillim, located in the lap of the Sahyadri range in the Western Ghats, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is among the world’s top 8 hotspots of biological diversity. “While the retreat’s mission—“To Conserve. To Sustain. To Heal”– permeates every experience at the property, it is at its Wellness Centre that it is reinforced,” affirms Srikant Peri, GM at Dharana Wellness at Hilton Shillim. Minimalistic room design using local stone floors, eco non-volatile, non-toxic paints, cotton, silk and linen fabrics, artefacts and accessories sourced from marginalised groups, energy efficient lighting, oil-based traditional lamps, recyclable fabric and paper shades are some of the eco-friendly approaches. Ecological landscape practices, eco swimming pool, installation of solar plant, avoiding chemical fertiliser, reforestation and more such environment friendly methods are adopted at Hilton Shillim Retreat.
Tucked in the crystalline Sahyadri Mountains and overlooking the pristine Mulshi Lake, the wellness centre, Atmantan – a proposed GOLD Leed certified project, is spread over 40 acres of lush valley and some of its stellar green initiatives include solar energy, which is the primary source of heating water for nearly all the applications at Atmantan. They use treated chemical-free water for all their landscaping requirements. Being a nature lover and a passionate entrepreneur, Nikil Kapur, Director Founder Atmantan says, “We have approached rain water harvesting as a community concept. The idea was to also let our fellow villagers reap the benefits of this project. We embarked upon a mission of improving the ground water table of Palse village area and executed our project on over 100 plus acres along the hill side.”