Being green can save you on holidays, says Liesl Hattingh. Here are some of best new examples of affordable and eco-conscious accommodation.
Cynical travellers have moaned that requests for guests to ‘save the planet’ by reusing towels and sheets have improved the margins of hoteliers. A guest is saving the hotel on laundry and helping the planet so shouldn’t the bonus to the bottom line be shared?
The opening in September of Hotel Verde just 400 metres from the international airport at Cape Town is making it worth travellers’ time to be responsible.
The sustainable hotel rewards guests for environmentally conscious choices by crediting their hotel bill for each planet saving action – by reusing towels and linen, not switching on air conditioning, using the gym’s power-generating equipment or opting for an electronic receipt.
For example, guests earn in-house currency (‘verdinos’) that can be redeemed against accommodation, meals, drinks or novelty purchases. That’s reducing your hotel bill as you stay.
The convenient location and – it’s got to be said – the artfully bold, bordering on zany, décor makes it easy, fun and trendy to be a responsible traveller.
Hotel Verde signals the new wave of green hotels operating from green buildings — not just green operations and tactics at the core of an un-green business. As a hotel built completely from scratch, there was plenty of opportunity to build in cutting-edge green technology and design.
Guests may remain blissfully unaware of much of it: a network of 100 boreholes connected to 14.5 kilometres of underground pipes that radically reduce energy use for heating and cooling; solar panels double up as awnings; wind turbines; grey water recycling; lifts that generate electricity; living walls and a green roof; a new wetland that attracts birdlife to the otherwise semi-industrial airport precinct; water and energy efficient fittings such as occupancy sensors; electric shuttles to and from the airport; and a reservation system that automatically prioritises the most energy-efficient rooms, to name just a few.
Out of Africa, Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers is bribing guests to help generate electricity to be consumed in the hotel.
Pedalling for about 15 minutes in the hotel gym produces 10 watt-hours of electricity. Build up enough sweat and electricity and guests earn a free meal.
Whole chains are getting in on the act: ITC Hotels, which operates 100 hotels in India, is the only hotel group to be included in this year’s finalists of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow awards.
It is exceptional in that, despite the considerable cost, it is the first group worldwide to have all their premium properties – 10 new and existing – LEED Platinum certified. (LEED is the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating (usgbc.org) and is a widely respected rating system of buildings.)
Leading Hotels of the World, on the other hand, claims to be the first luxury brand whose guests have the option of offsetting their whole trip’s carbon emissions.
The group’s hotels include the likes of One Aldwych in London, Tokyo’s Hotel Okura and Imperial Hotels, The Torch in Doha, Qatar, and Hotel Sacher Wien in Vienna, Austria.
InterContinental Hotels Group, which includes the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, shows just how extensive the green intervention in city stays can be at their online ‘innovation hotel’ (innovation.ihgplc.com).
Indeed, the Crowne Plaza Melbourne was at the forefront of sustainability initiatives since the mid-2000s.
For the next wave of sustainable hotels we need to look east, says international hospitality consultant Robert Colin Bryant. “I do think that China will lead the cause, as it is still the economic engine of the world.”
The Parkview Green Beijing is a prime example: this spectacular glass and steel building in the heart of the city’ business centre includes a boutique hotel and has achieved a LEED Platinum rating.
“The trend is inevitable and all this will happen in a wonderful way,” Bryant muses.