That feeling of joy you get when you stride through the lobby of a sleek hotel is incomparable. It’s welcoming, exciting and intriguing. What will your time in the hotel hold? Will it be full of adventure or a restorative get-away? Whether you spend your time getting pampered at a top-notch spa, or you use your room solely as a place to rest your head, a good hotel can create a lasting impact on your time in a destination.
Hotels that leave a positive, lasting impression is always something to celebrate. Finding a hotel that combines personal satisfaction with a positive social and environmental impact, is another experience altogether.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization declared 2017 the year of sustainable travel and the trend continues to grow. With that in mind, hotels are looking to the future to integrate high-touch experiences with meaningful initiatives in the public sector. From urban gardening to eco-architecture and design, the hospitality industry is amping up efforts to create a more sustainable world. Here are our favorite sustainable hotel brands and the ways they are helping to shape industry standards.
Visit the 1 Hotels website and you’ll immediately see their commitment to the environment. On the homepage, an aerial view video sweeps you into a dreamy nature setting and sets the tone of what you are about to experience: nature. It’s the theme of their brand and it seeps over into every aspect of a guest’s stay in one of their sexy hotels. The hotels are thoughtfully designed with reclaimed wood, natural light, hemp mattresses and live green moments. They believe that the future of the world and the future of hospitality are one and the same and can be a catalyst for change. While they currently only have locations in NYC, Brooklyn, and Miami, they are quickly expanding and are poised to be a global brand worth noting.
When you think of Hyatt, you may not immediately associate them with sustainability, but you’d be doing them a disservice. Hyatt has a 57% overall CSR rating for their initiatives, which is quite impressive for such a large conglomerate. They also have a 2020 Environmental Sustainability Strategy focusing on stewardship, waste and water reduction and stakeholder engagement. In addition to their environmental commitment, they boast an admirable corporate responsibility program called, Hyatt Thrive. Through partnerships, reports, and employee development, they are holding themselves accountable to the high standards set forth by the industry. They encourage employees to volunteer in the community and are directly tied to several community service organizations. The future of Hyatt is one emboldened by responsible business, environmental and community ingenuity.
Fairmont, Swissotel, and Raffles recently joined the Accor Hotel family. What makes this especially exciting, beyond the amazing hospitality offered, is Accor’s Planet 21 programme. Fairmont has long been a leader in sustainable offerings and as they continue to integrate with Accor, it will likely roll up into the Planet 21 programme. According to their website, “The Planet 21 programme demonstrates the Group's ambitious goals for 2020, based around four strategic priorities: work with its employees, involve its customers, innovate with its partners and work with local communities. Two key issues to tackle will be food and buildings.”. How this translates currently is by contributing to the fight against child sex-slavery, the implementation of eco-certified products and design; and by offering sustainably sourced food in their hotel restaurants. One of their most iconic hotels, The Pullman Auckland Airport has a plant wall in the lobby and is actively working on ways to combat food waste.
All-inclusive resorts are notorious culprits for creating waste. Sandos is out to change the game for those who want the all-inclusive experience and desire to leave a smaller environmental footprint. Their vision is “To be leaders in all-inclusive resorts that are differentiated, innovative and sustainable”. How are they accomplishing that? By working directly with their suppliers and employees to promote sustainability. Within the company, they have a culture of education and social responsibility and focus on “conservation of historic, natural and cultural heritage and encourage community development.” In addition, they are committed to keeping their hiring process local and being mindful of gender and minority discrimination. Sandos Caracol Eco Resort is an eco-focused resort located in the center of a lush jungle atmosphere in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The resort continues to promote sustainable practices and embraces its natural environment by offering many eco-friendly tours and activities every day through their Xcalacoco Experience. Here are just of a few of the initiatives launched by Sandos Caracol in order to uphold its sustainability goals:
1) Onsite recycling, water conservation, and electrical energy programs
2) Sandos Eco Club - a multidisciplinary working group implementing environmental practices within their hotels. Est. 2009
3) “Green” guest rooms that have been remodeled rooms into “green” rooms by using certified materials, LED lighting, a system for recycling gray and soapy water, and they no longer use natural gas to heat water. With those changes, they have reduced CO2 emissions by 70%.
4) Interactive Reforestation Program
5) Onsite herb garden and nursery
6) Onsite reproduction programs for endangered species.
Kimpton puts the fun back in funky! They are often touted as the “best-loved boutique” hotels in the U.S. Not only are their locations full of unique design and ambiance, they were founded on the ideal that social and environmental responsibility begins with the employees. The Kimpton Cares program runs on the idea that these values are part of the hotels DNA. Being certified by the Green-Key Eco-Rating program is only one example of what makes them a stand-out. A significant step they have taken to creating a better world is their celebration of diversity. They support the LGBT community through the Trevor Project and empower women through Dress for Success. The Kimpton line shines with their social responsibility.
The hotel industry is fast-paced and ever-changing. By choosing to book a stay at a hotel that promotes sustainability, you are actively helping shape the standards of the future. We recommend you do your research and seek companies whose values match yours.