“Sustainable hospitality does not translate into ‘one company trying to do its very best in a given market,’” explains Dr. Legrand, “but rather, it is an entire industry that stands up to face the environmental and societal challenges by exploring ideas, solutions and strategies of how to develop future hotels and how to manage operations in a sustainable way.”

Dr. Willy Legrand, Sustainable hospitality expert

According to the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, tourism contributes about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions — a figure they expect to grow by 130% by 2035. This is a daunting statistic hospitality leaders are trying to tackle by taking quick and crucial steps to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

Fortunately, green credentials are not only good for the planet, but are good for the bottom line, incenting more and more hotels to boost their green credentials, save money and attract guests at the same time.  In fact, a Nielsen study of millennial consumer behaviour revealed that sustainability is a shopping priority for this travel-thirsty demographic and a large majority (66%) will pay more for products and services from socially and environmentally conscious companies. As a result, the thousands of hotels around the world making efforts to reduce food waste, minimize water usage, eliminate plastic and paper and build sustainably are not only positively impacting the planet, they are also positively impacting their bottom line.

We see this especially among the rising generation of travellers and hotel bookers. A study on millennial consumer behaviour, conducted by The Nielsen Company, found that sustainability is a shopping priority among this influential and travel-prone generation. In fact, 66% of global respondents (up 11% from the previous year) would “pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact” (Nielsen, 2015).

Sustainable tourism is clearly more than a trend, it is a necessity, taking hold in every corner of the world – thankfully!  So as part of our LIV Sustainably series, we take a look at some of our favourite eco-friendly hotel properties around the world.

Fogo Inn, Newfoundland, Canada

The largest island off the coast of Newfoundland, boasts dramatic coastline, colourful clapboard homes and illustrious maritime history.  The scenery is arresting, bleak and beautiful at the same time. It is in this remote location that you’ll find the Fogo Inn – a 29 room, modernist, boutique hotel with some bonafide green credentials:

  • Rainwater from the roof is collected and filtered for use in toilets, laundry, and kitchen appliances.
  • The outbuilding adjacent to the main inn houses wood-fired boilers, as well as solar thermal panels on the roof which supply hot water for the in-floor radiant heating and the laundry and kitchen equipment.  
  • Each piece of furniture was designed based on traditional shapes and materials then hand‐made locally, leveraging traditional skills of boat­‐building, woodworking, quilting and knitting providing local people with meaningful work.
  • 100% Social business that returns all surpluses to Shorefast (Canadian charity sponsoring artistic, cultural and social business initiatives on Fogo Island) for reinvestment in the Community of Fogo Island. Encourages sustainable tourism thanks to limited space (only 29 rooms) and challenging access, thoughtful programming, wealth distribution, and environmental stewardship.
  • The restaurant features regionally sourced ingredients including foraged plants and berries and the freshest seafood from the North Atlantic.

Tierra Hotels, Chile

Chile’s Tierra Hotels operate incomparable hotels in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park, at the edge of the vast Atacama desert and on the island of Chiloe. Each one is exquisitely designed and uniquely situated to offer guests sweeping views of their surroundings and to serve as their basecamp for exploring these spectacular regions of South America.  The company goes to great lengths to respect and conserve the landscape and biodiversity of the land and honour the cultural traditions of local communities.

Internationally recognized for their robust sustainability programs, Tierra hotels:  

  • Utilize Innovative construction methods make the most of natural resources for heating and ventilation. The orientation of the structures maximizes the amount of light and heat of the sun that can be absorbed through thermal panel windows. This, together with ‘Low-E’ technology allows for 66% of energy otherwise wasted, to be saved.
  • Use cross-ventilation to keep the air fresh and efficient lighting reduces the use of fossil fuels. 
  • Harness renewable biomass energy is used to heat the hotel.
  • Go to great measures to conserve the biodiversity of the land surrounding the hotel.
  • Employ a local community to create products for the hotel (i.e. hand-knit slippers).
  • Source food from own orchards and gardens and supplement with produce grown by local farmers.

Groupe Germain Hotels, Canada

Montréal-based Lemaymichaud Architecture Design created all Group Germain Hotels (Alt+ Hotels, Alt Hotels and Le Germain Hotels) and their latest properties all feature a number of energy-efficient innovations including:

  • Whenever possible, products that can be reused, recharged or recycled, are used.
  • Energy-efficient lighting systems.
  • Geothermal heating and cooling.
  • New Tesla destination charging program with 20+ EV charging stations at some properties.

In addition, all Group Germain Hotels are dedicated to nurturing the next generation of hospitality workers and supporting local designers and artisans wherever possible. For example:

  • They support local hospitality schools offering internships at every property.
  • Le Germain staff wear clothes by Quebec designers Bustle Clothing and Marie Saint Pierre and doormen wear handcrafted Harricana hats.
  • Alt Hotels use bath products from Bella Pella in refillable large containers.
  • And most of the artwork featured in all the hotels are created by Canadian artists.

 Song Saa Island, Cambodia

Created with sustainability in mind, the luxury resort on Song Saa Private Island offers an intimate escape to travellers exploring Southeast Asia. Located in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago, a 45-min speedboat ride from Sihanoukville Port, Song Saa features 24 private villas situated in pristine surroundings.

From its inception, Song Saa has delivered on sustainability:

  • Constructed using reclaimed timber and materials from the mainland
  • Each villa is a refined blend of thatched roofs, linen-draped canopy beds
  • Décor is upcycled or repurposed furniture i.e. discarded oil drums serve as lamps, driftwood is crafted by local artisans into tables and benches and salvaged wood from fishing boats forms the decks, floors and hotel’s supporting beams.  
  • Food is locally sourced ingredients: seasonal fruits and vegetables, wildlife-friendly Ibis rice from farmers in the North, fleshy cashew nuts and meaty coconuts from nearby villages.   
  • Mangroves have been planted to help reduce the carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases produced by guest’s journeys to Song Saa – essentially a carbon offset program.
  • The Song Saa Foundation established Cambodia’s first marine reserve in the waters around the island dedicated to protecting the coral reef habitats around the private islands of Koh Bong and Koh Ouen.

Casa De las Olas, Tulum, Mexico

This Tulum boutique resort prides itself on being 100% sustainable and powered by the sun. Built over 40 years ago, this ground-breaking property was positioned and built to leverage the Caribbean breezes for cooling the property without the need for air conditioning and it continues to tread lightly through a continued commitment to sustainability becoming Mexico’s only platinum LEED-certified property.

Other ways in which Casa de las Olas delivers on its green promise include:

  • All cleaning products and bathroom amenities are organic and biodegradable
  • All food is locally sourced from nearby family farms
  • Sophisticated solar panel system powers the entire resort.  
  • Underground water sources and captured rainwater provide water for the hotel’s needs. Water from the well is used for the showers and gravity fed from the roof.
  • Rainwater is used for watering the indigenous plants on the grounds.
  • A greywater filtration system is utilized for the villas and all the kitchen and organic waste are composted on site.

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Check out our other post in our #LIVsustainably series  #LIVsustainably – Sustainable Design Brands We Love

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Cover image source: Unsplash

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