The Most Common Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Hotel Initiatives

10 "Green" Hotel Initiatives Every Event Planner Should Know About

Chefs in a hotel kitchen.
Chefs in a hotel kitchen.. Brent Winebrenner/Getty Images

As environmental concerns and the popularity of eco-friendly practices like green meetings continue to increase, it’s important for meeting and event planners to continually expand their own knowledge of sustainability, particularly as it relates to the venues, vendors, and the work of other event services professionals. One such topic is that of eco-friendly or "green" hotel initiatives. Many hotels, from the more budget-friendly to the more luxurious, are taking steps to make their practices and business more sustainable.

Understanding these green hotel initiatives can offer event planners more to consider when selecting hotels for their client's programs whether as a venue for the event itself or as the choice for overnight accommodations for out-of-town guests.

Introduction to Sustainable Hotel Practices

Vail Resorts which includes RockResorts, for instance, has undertaken a grand commitment to decrease its environmental footprint and increase the sustainability of the services they offer. Just a few years ago, RockResorts, along with its director of environmental affairs decided upon ten initiatives to adopt within Vail Resorts’ hotels and properties as their sustainable practices starting point. These ten initiatives have since become the norm for hotels looking to offer more sustainable services.

1. Hotel Energy Conservation

From central operations such as boilers to lighting systems, kitchen equipment, and automated energy management systems, hotels globally are working to reduce energy use while sustaining – and whenever possible enhancing – the guest experience.

2. Hotel Water Conservation

Within guest rooms, laundries, kitchens, pools and spas, hotels continue to phase in efficiencies that reduce water and, in many cases, chemicals that are used to treat water systems and clean facilities. Efforts include the linen and towel reuse programs that are now an industry standard to installation of low-flow faucets, showerheads, and other fixtures.

3. Hotel Recycling and Waste Reduction

With limited exception for domestic hotels, recycling programs for the basics such as newspapers and beverage containers are becoming a basic expectation. In combination with the recycling efforts, hotels are looking for opportunities to reduce the use of paper and other disposables. Hotels and resorts that can go beyond to implement food waste composting programs can demonstrate waste diverted from the landfill upwards of 40-50%.

4. Hotel Bath Amenities

Many hotels are making a statement by offering guests custom formulated amenities. Resort companies such as RockResorts have taken it one step further with an all-natural, essential oil-based custom formulated product made without preservatives and artificial ingredients that is packaged in recyclable containers. Other midrange hotel brands are experimenting with bulk dispenser presentations.

5. Hotel Room Keys

Contemporary plastic key cards are made from PVC (poly vinyl chloride) based plastic which is part of a highly toxic manufacturing process.

Many hotel companies are shifting to card options made from paper, wood, and bioplastic that are better for the environment but equally as durable.

6. Hotel Cleaning Products

Recognizing the importance of safer products for guests and employees as well as the natural environment, many hotels have shifted to cleaning products that are made with bio-based oils and other natural cleaners. By making the switch, they are reducing the use of products with chlorine bleach and petrochemical derivatives. These more natural products have demonstrated performance and are less irritating to guests, employees, and the environment.

7. Hotel Food Preparation

Integrating local products and using fresh, seasonal produce and other ingredients is emerging as a significant focus of hotel food and beverage programs. A shift to more sustainable and healthier cuisine offers travelers unique opportunities to experience a greater connection to the locations they are visiting in a more sustainable way.

8. Hotel Bottled Water Alternatives

In support of waste reduction and a higher quality experience, many hotels are moving away from bottled water as the standard and offering unique hydration options for meeting attendees and independent travelers. Look for conveniently located filtered water dispensers, complimentary refillable bottles, and other options designed to offer guests convenient and palatable alternatives to water in plastic bottles.

9. Hotel Menu Selection

Hotels and resorts are integrating more and more selections in menus of all types that integrate organic produce, hormone free meats and dairy, and other natural products that offer guests healthier food selections.

10. Hotel Spas

A growing trend with all types of spas is the integration of treatments that feature local and indigenous ingredients as well as natural and organic products. Similarly, unique brand and resort signature treatments are emerging to truly offer guests a special connection to the destination.

The Bottom Line

From property-wide initiatives to guest rooms, food and beverage or spas, event planners should be asking their hotels about what specific efforts are being made to be more sustainable in order to make more informed choices.

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