Down to Earth: Spotlighting sustainable hotel experiences
The effects of globalization and human civilization on the planet first made headlines more than 30 years ago*. Today, the microscope looking at the impact the last year has had on our planet and people is coming into focus. And although traveling to new destinations and exploring the surrounding area and local culture has always been high on traveler’s priorities, it’s clear that there has been a shift and as travel resumes - people are being more intentional when booking their next getaway.
A global study commissioned by IHG Hotels & Resorts of 9,000 adults revealed consumers are more mindful than ever about traveling responsibly following the pandemic with 60 percent agreeing they want to be more environmentally and socially conscious about their trips. Within that segment, 82 percent said it was important to choose a hotel brand that operates responsibly. Moreover, consumers said they were willing to spend an average of 31 percent more per night for hotels that meet this need.
Operating responsibly and sustainably is absolutely core to our business and culture at IHG Hotels & Resorts. For starters, as a global standard, all our hotels utilize the IHG Green Engage system, our online environmental management platform which helps them measure, report and manage their environmental footprint. And, we have made important progress toward operational, people-led and environmental targets in recent years.
In recognition of World Environment Day – and as the world begins to reopen and demand for travel increases – here are a few ways guests can see all the world has to offer, responsibly:
The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in the Cayman Islands takes protecting the surrounding coral reefs to impressive depths. Through a partnership with Seafire Guardians, their staff members are trained to become coral certified and actively work alongside a local dive company to replenish coral back to the Caribbean waters. These coral reefs support 25 percent of marine life and act as natural breakwaters, defending the island from hurricanes and storms. In addition to preserving the reefs, they help local turtle populations thrive by utilizingturtle-friendly lighting along the beach to prevent disrupting the turtles’ journeys from land to sea during nesting season. Across the resort, solar power panels, LED lighting, recycled building materials, and the use of native plants all contributed to the resort earning LEED Silver, an award for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Can a luxury hotel in a busy metropolis hotel really live up to its buzz? The InterContinental New York Barclay has not one, but six beehives producing honey and pollinating the rooftop kitchen garden which produces fruits, vegetables and herbs for the hotel’s restaurant. In a bid to reduce food waste the hotel also uses a special system called the EnviroPure Digestor that uses enzymes to separate food waste into compost and brown water to further cultivate their garden. The hotel also donates used oyster shells to the Billion Oyster Project to help to restore the oyster reefs in New York Harbor, providing a habitat to grow and hatch baby oysters that attach to the repurposed old shells.
At InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, protecting and preserving the lagoon and surrounding ocean is as much a priority as is caring for hotel guests. Through collaborations with the Manta Trust and Ocean Conservation Program, the hotel follows a specific action plan to protect the local community for all who call it home. Some key highlights include:
Solar power energy system that can produce 8 percent of the resort’s total energy requirement, resulting in a reduction of 365 tons of CO2 equivalent annually
A glass crushing system that allows the resort to use it as a component alongside aggregate in concrete works
A compost from organic waste, which in the process saves the ocean from food components such as spices and food coloring, known to be harmful to marine life
An ultrafiltration and reticulation plant system that carries a production capacity of 155,000 liters of water per day
The hotel’s partnership with the Manta Trust supports conservation efforts by the Maldivian Manta Ray Project, allowing researchers based at the resort to learn more about the species that frequent the lagoon and improve efforts for their protection so they can thrive in a safe environment. Guests are invited to join the resort’s educational presentation by an in-house marine biologist and learn more about their conservation work for manta rays. Additionally, guests are given the opportunity to swim alongside these gentle giants during manta group or private snorkeling excursions.
Surrounded by the gorgeous unspoiled Son Tra Nature Reserve, containing more than 2,500 hectares of old-growth forest and a marvelous diversity of flora and fauna, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is encircled by 1,000 species of plants, over 100 types of birds and butterflies, and dozens of mammals and reptiles. In 2019, the resort created a onsite zoologist role, with the aim of improving conservation efforts of their most illustrious residents - the rare and beautiful red-shanked douc langurs, a species of colobine monkey.
Each day, resort team monitor and evaluate the impact of daily operations on the immediate ecosystem to ensure that the nature reserve is protected, preserved, and able to continue to flourish. Guests can sign up for complimentary wildlife workshops and educational tours conducted by the resort’s resident zoologist during their stay to learn about the importance of wildlife and how to help combat environmental damage created by illegal wildlife trade.
In Bhutan, traditional cuisine features local cheeses, vegetables and spices, but a substantial portion of dairy produce, proteins and grain is also imported. To ensure investment in local farming, Six Senses Bhutan grows dozens of varieties of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers at an eco-village in Damchena near the Paro Lodge. Because agriculture is the top employer in the Kingdom of Bhutan, the resort collaborates closely with local farmers, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF).
Ultimately, this organic and sustainable village will be unlike anything the country has ever seen and it will serve as an educational center for the local community, children, hosts and guests.
Built on sustainability, caring for the environment, and looking after local schools, hospitals and infrastructure is at the core of Six Senses Zighy Bay. Since 2016, the resort in Oman has involved hosts, villagers, the local municipality and guests in tree planting. In total, 80 percent of the waste created on the property (organic or glass) is recycled or upcycled on site.
They produce their own bottled water via reverse osmosis and the salt water, which is filtered out during the process, is used in their salt water pool, the largest in the Middle East! Where possible, the resort sources food locally so guests will often see the resort's chefs down at Dibba Fish Market at dawn, providing a living to locals and unparalleled freshness to every dish.
The hotel team at Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers in Denmark is dedicated to running a fully sustainable hotel and the façade is lined with solar panels utilizing a renewable energy source to help power the building. To keep the building cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months, the hotel uses a state-of-the-art groundwater-based system, and automatic intelligent light, water, and waste-saving measures are installed throughout. The onsite restaurant, Bark, serves organic and locally sourced Nordic cuisine in a stunning green atrium filled with air-purifying plants.
Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site means all of the region’s stakeholders have a strict obligation to its 3,500 botanical species. Six Senses Douro Valley has protected a 10-acre (4-hectare) woodland on the property, highlighting its commitment to sustaining the environment and beautiful old-growth trees. The hotel’s Sustainability Fund, which is a percentage of its overall revenue and 50 percent of sales from Six Senses water, goes towards funding underprivileged children, at-risk animals, and a beautiful community forest.
voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley is on the fast track to creating an environmentally friendly hotel in the heart of the Hunter region. From its solar farm that powers lights, eggs that come from the Kirkton Park chickens, honeybee farm that pollinate crops and provide fresh honey, and recycled water that feeds the lush vegetable gardens, they genuinely live by the estate-to-plate ethos: “Take care of Mother Nature, and she will take care of you.” Kids love the food-scrap buckets to take down to the pig pen where the hotel assures no waste.
voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley has also reduced its carbon emissions and energy usage by 20 percent in just two short years. They now use 13 percent less water and recycle 26 percent more.
As Australia’s most iconic private island, and nestled within one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, guests can stay assured knowing a range of environmentally-friendly initiatives are in place to help conserve its stunning locale. Not only does the island have a veto on non-reef-safe sunscreen, guests will also find a ban on single use plastics (there’s multiple filtered water stations placed across the resort), while an innovative glass-to-sand crusher crushes glass bottles to make a silicone “sand” product that will be recycled and used across the island. In-room thermal technology systems mean that lights, air conditioning, curtains, blinds and appliances are adjusted to optimise thermal efficiency and reduce use of energy when guests aren’t in the room.
Renowned as the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown is also home to better travel with a suite of initiatives available at Crowne Plaza Queenstown. Guests can indulge guilt-free at ThreeSixty Bar thanks to a partnership with EcoSpirits, which helps to ultimately reduce carbon emissions (its distribution system nearly eliminates all packaging waste), while the ‘Refill NZ’ initiative helps to reduce plastic pollution by offering people free water bottle refills. The hotel also supports local beer and wine producers, is a partner of KiwiHarvest for its food rescue program, SoapAid rescue champion, and a proud contributor to the Hotel Weka Recycling Program.
Additional sustainability buzz: Bees on the rooftop
Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge in Louisiana is adorned with a gorgeous rooftop garden that boasts flowers, herbs, and a honey-producing bee colony, helping to improve local biodiversity.
Hotel Indigo Tulsa Downtown in Oklahoma has some very special visitors as well. In a unique partnership with Shadow Mountain Honey, their rooftop serves as home to rescue bees that produce honey for the hotel’s Roof Sixty Six venue.
In addition to the 300,000 rooftop bees tended to by a resident beekeeper, everything at voco Gold Coast in Australia – from their ban on single use plastics to filtered tap water in guest rooms is designed to reduce their impact on the environment.
Guided by a purpose to provide True Hospitality for Good, IHG Hotels & Resorts recently launched a series of ambitious new commitments to make a positive difference for our people, communities and planet over the next decade. Find out more about our Journey to Tomorrow here, including information on the plan, ambitions, detailed commitments, and to follow the progress.
IHGHotels & Resorts [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is a global hospitality company, with a purpose to provide True Hospitality for Good.
With a family of 16 hotel brands and IHG Rewards, one of the world’s largest hotel loyalty programmes, IHG has nearly 6,000 open hotels in more than 100 countries, and a further 1,800 in the development pipeline.
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is the Group’s holding company and is incorporated in Great Britain and registered in England and Wales. Approximately 350,000 people work across IHG's hotels and corporate offices globally.