Debate: The need to be 'green'

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As the media continues to scrutinise a hotel’s eco activities and impact on the environment, it poses the question of how much emphasis guests put on the idea of hotels being ‘green’?

Mike Warren, MD, Harbour Hotels
NO
As a group, we put significant effort into our eco practices and environmental responsibilities – recycling systems, waste management and of course utility efficiency, however this is not in response to guest concern. Some operators highlight their ‘commitment’ to green causes, as a form of marketing; I don’t agree with that. Whilst our visitors are certainly aware of the issue and we are very transparent with our practises, they want to be pampered and escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life, without being reminded of this subject.

Michael Voigt, general manager,The Arch London
YES
Our guests are seasoned and intelligent travellers and do not support wastage. The days of 10 shampoos and 7 soaps in every room are over. At The Arch we recycle in all areas: paper, plastic, glass, kitchen oil the list is endless. Old bathrobes and uniforms go to a charity just down the road in Seymour Street. We use energy saving light bulbs. Department heads are very conscious of energy consumption and switching off lights/computers and air-conditioners have become part of our DNA here at The Arch London. We try not to waste anything, from food to pens, from old furniture to carpets we will find a second life for most things. Our guests love to hear these stories and it is one more reason as to why they choose to stay with us.

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Maggie Watson, co-owner, Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges, Devon. The establishment recently received Gold in the 2014/2015 Visit Devon Awards for the Sustainability Tourism Award.

YES & NO
Guests expect more eco measures ‘as standard’ now: without things like recycling, low energy lighting, and less wastage you’d look hopelessly old fashioned. But most see these as cost-cutting measures rather than green credentials. Those ‘looking for green’ want to be surprised and inspired, and this is an opportunity for boutique hotels to really shine. Guests admire genuine commitment and proven, measured improvements — showing them the difference between authentic action and green window dressing is very worthwhile.

Sarah Dougherty, hotel manager, Oddfellows

YES
Our guests are an interesting, creative bunch – and this tends to go hand in hand with inquisitiveness. So, yes, we find they increasingly ask questions about our eco-practices. The questions mainly focus around the food in our restaurant ‘The Garden by Simon Radley’ – they like to hear that as a British brand we support local and seasonal produce and they are often interested in hearing stories about the food suppliers themselves. We also find that, as a whole, guests are becoming much more proactive themselves – turning off appliances in bedrooms is just one example.

Mark Chambers, managing director, Eden Hotel Collection

YES
There is a much wider consciousness around eco practice. Guests are more aware of companies’ commitment to responsible working and it is important to demonstrate a robust policy. It is an important factor for our corporate clients, who are all going to lengths to demonstrate their own commitment and expect a reciprocal response from us. Eden Hotel Collection has delivered on food and waste recycling; increasing the amount of waste we recycle from 24% to nearer the 60% mark, eco cleaning products and responsible product sourcing.

Andrew Grahame, CEO Dormy House Hotel

NO
In all honesty, Dormy guests aren’t noticeably obsessed with environmental protocols. Only agents ever ask us about our green credentials, as they may have to tick boxes on behalf of a corporate client. But leisure visitors are far more interested in our facilities, attention to detail and level of service. Having said that, people are always glad to know the eco-initiatives are there behind the scenes. We’ve done lots in House Spa, for instance, with heat transfer systems, eco glass filtration, LED lights, rainwater harvesting and so on. But I doubt anyone sits in the Cotswold Lavender Sauna worrying about the heat recovery ventilation system. We wouldn’t be doing our job right if they were.

 

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