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What characterises a sustainable hotel?

27 July 2020
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It’s not the famous beehive on the roof, which of course is great for the bees. However, this is only a small part of many criteria that hotels have to meet in order to be sustainable. Most people associate sustainability with protecting the environment, but sustainability is much more. It is based on three key pillars of ecological, social and economic factors.

Carl von Carlowitz defined sustainability for the forest back in 1713. The scale must always balance out, you can only fell as many trees as will grow back.

Sustainability and Tourism

There are now countless labels and certifications, and it can be difficult for guests to navigate their way through them. One of Green Pearls’® goals is to present the sustainable initiatives of their hotels transparently and clearly.

The criteria that sustainable hotels should meet are defined by three main themes: sustainable management, environment and socio-economic activity. At the beginning of this process is a sustainable strategic plan, which should not only be developed by the management. In order to achieve long-term success, it is also important to involve the all-important employees. The next important topics are the architecture of the buildings. In the case of a new hotel building the construction methods, materials, regionality, energy management, water, waste, food and social commitment both within the hotel and externally need to be considered.

We would like to explain exactly what this means using our hotels as examples. Each Green Pearls® hotel has a different focus. Sustainability has many facets, and it is always the hoteliers’ personal stories that shape and support their philosophy.

Tongsai Bay, Koh Samui, Thailand

Environment and Animal Welfare

Built and opened in 1987 as the first luxury eco resort on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand, it is at the forefront of sustainable development. Designed and built by the visionary Khun Akorn Hoontrakul who first fell in love with the beautiful property, and subsequently bought it. He then slept on the beach for three months during construction to ensure that no trees were felled and that as little interference with nature as possible was required.

Today you can marvel at the over 60 species of birds on the huge property. Animal welfare and the protection of the environment is a key part of the resort’s green philosophy, as is the respectful treatment of the staff. Many employees have been with the hotel from the very beginning.

Relais del Maro; Liguria, Italy

Culture: The revival of a village

The Scalambrin family is inseparably linked to the village of Borgomaro. Family members have lived and worked in the houses in the village for many years. By converting the houses into an “Albergo Diffuso”, the family wanted to preserve the history, tradition and culture. The main house was Piera Scalambrin’s parents’ home where she grew up on the first floor, with her parents’ butcher’s shop below. Elena Scalambrin and her parents decided to renovate the village houses and give travelers the opportunity to participate in the life of a Ligurian village. For the family, it was clear from the beginning that the buildings should be renovated sustainably. The consulting for the Relais del Maro was done by Casa Clima, a public institution from Bolzano, which focuses on energy efficiency and environmental certification of both new and renovated buildings, along with the education, advice and training of people working in the construction industry. And so, the small Albergo Diffuso, with its 14 rooms, sets environmental protection standards in addition to its cultural commitment.

OCÉANO Hotel Health Spa, Tenerife, Spain

Preservation and Transformation

The history of the hotel dates back to 1965 when the grandparents of the current owner discovered the property in Tenerife and decided to create a tranquil sanctuary. Many years have passed since then and the OCÉANO has become one of the leading sustainable hotels in wellness tourism. After the owners K. Matthias Rolle and his wife Magda Corominas Roig invested a lot of time and energy into the continuous development of OCÉANO for current and future guests, the sustainable structural modifications followed in 2019. It was important to retain the unique ambiance and special features of OCÉANO while adapting the architecture to the times. The change in the appearance of the façade was combined with an additional layer of insulation, and only natural and environmentally friendly building materials were used with a focus on energy-saving technology. Water stations for guests were installed to avoid the use of plastic bottles in the future, and during their stay, OCÉANO provides each guest with a reusable bottle that can be refilled at any time free of charge at any of these stations.

Outside, Tyrol, Austria

Gastronomy meets environmental protection or sustainability through the stomach

Nature is a powerhouse, and it is something that needs to be protected. The Ganzer family of hoteliers from Tyrol has always lived by a sustainable philosophy and have invested a lot of heart and soul in the sustainable development of their hotel. Ensuring environmental protection is just as important as providing exceptional hospitality. The Hotel Outside spoils its guests with everything that comes fresh from nature, following the motto heart and belly go hand in hand.

The shorter the journey, the fresher the vitamins. The closer the (mountain) farm, the better the taste. – Naturhotel Outside

Since 2018, Verena Ganzer has been the Head Chef of the hotel’s own gourmet restaurant INSIDE, and is responsible, among other things, for the composition of the 6-course gourmet menu “Mitten im Draußen”, or “In the Midst of the Outdoors”. The vegetarian menu changes daily and can also be ordered with meat or fish. All dishes are local, seasonal and intricately linked with the region. High-quality ingredients are used. Vegetables, cheese, fish, meat and fruit come from sustainable agriculture in the region. Verena Ganzer mixes alpine and Mediterranean specialties with the typical wild herbs of the region, reinterprets old classics depending on the seasonal availability of the ingredients and creates innovative, delicious alpine cuisine.

The ROMANTIC Boutique Hotel & Spa

Cultural engagement: Preservation instead of demolition

In 2002, Dalia Remeikaitė and her daughter Dovilė Šipelienė opened the sustainable 4-star ROMANTIC Hotel. The two owners are convinced that the combination of environmental protection and a modern sustainable lifestyle is feasible for everyone.

The hotel is located right in the center of the city in the former, renovated Panevėžys mill. It was the first industrial mill in the Baltic States and historians agree that it was also one of the most modern mills of the time.

In 2001, Dalia and her daughter Dovilė took over the old, dilapidated mill and lovingly and sustainability renovated it for future generations to enjoy.