Eco-hotel has been given a big round of applause from developers, operators and modern travelers alike, since it promotes corporate social responsibility initiatives, action for a better environment, and quality of local life with exclusive and authentic experience. Many hotels nowadays go beyond the way to do good for the environment, not only based on reducing carbon footprint as normal but also diversifying green activities throughout development and operational procedures, from nature-based design, sustainable construction methods and materials, energy conservation, to farm-to-table food and health-consciousness programs.
From chains going with the flow…
Globally, Marriott Hotels & Resorts has been recognized for its commitments to reduce energy and water consumption, empowering its partners to build green properties, and educating its guests to become energy-efficient during their stays. In Asia, the eco-trend is calling out many regional names led by Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts which have established green initiatives as a main component of their strategies.
Since opened in 1995, Six Senses has aimed to create innovative and enriching experiences in a sustainable environment. For the governance and structure, it aligns corporate sustainability policies with the resort-level initiatives through a specialized unit led by the Vice President, Sustainability and implemented by Social and Environment Coordinators at both the head office and properties. This operator contributes 0.5% of its revenues to its Social and Environmental Responsibility Fund of which 60% is spent locally for sustainability projects. Six Senses minimizes ecological impacts by energy conservation, re-use and re-cycle programs, responsible purchasing policies, and locally produced organic F&B products; while promoting sustainable tourism practices through community-based tourism programs in conjunction with preservation of cultural heritages and biodiversity on land and in water. Regarding to green buildings, Six Senses uses materials from renewable sources, such as wood, adobe, mud and thatch; and refuses fishing and golf courses which are said to involve huge destruction and use pesticides and herbicides to maintain greens.
For Banyan Tree, it exercises the precautionary approach to environmental impacts of its operations, and takes an active role in the protection and remediation of global ecosystems. Accordingly, it has implemented environmental programs like gibbon rehabilitation and mangrove planting in Phuket, elephant protection and fundraising events in Bangkok, as well as supporting marine research and conservation. Its Guest Sustainability Activities program is also developed across the pipeline through creative ideas like solar cooking at gastronomic displays or environment cleaning in collaboration with local communities. Besides its Banyan Tree Global Foundation, this operator has also partnered with EarthCheck for independent external sustainability certification, launched frameworks for sustainable hospitality, and aligned efforts with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
… to independent hotels embracing green
Such initiatives are reflected across the wider hospitality industry with many independent properties also integrating green practices into their core strategies. Therein, Song Saa Private Islands, a carefree sanctuary for the high-heeled guests in Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia, sets the bar for eco-luxury resorts across Southeast Asia. Created with sustainability in mind, this paradise hideaway was built with reclaimed timber, up-cycled décor, and repurposed furniture from the mainland by local hands; while deeply committed to sustainable development with projects dedicated to protecting coral reefs, ocean habitats, and rainforests. For another example, Damai Lovina Villas in Bali, Indonesia partners with a local research center for environmentally safe agricultural and household products; at the same time using permaculture to reduce water consumption and increase crop health, and composting in lieu of using chemical fertilizers. Likewise, El Nido Resorts in the province of Palawan, Philippines has actively protected Palawan’s giant-clam gardens and supported the reintroduction of endangered cockatoos, in parallel with its sustainable operations and environmental education.
Where the eco-hotel trend goes?
For over a decade, eco-hotel has swept across the global hospitality industry and pushed green practices implemented diversely in different geographies. In the context of rising environmental problems worldwide and the urbanization boom in developing countries, especially in Asia, asking for sustainable tourism, hotel companies will continue to be prompted by government policies, consumer requirements and the competitive market to prioritize sustainability activities. These remarkable achievements and unique experience of sustainable hospitality recently will lay a solid foundation for more hotels to get on board the eco-development in the coming years, strongly engaging city properties which are currently in a weaker trend.
Mr. Reno Mueller