Travellers are more conscious about the environmental impact of their trips than ever before. According to OnePoll research by IHG in 2021, 67% of Australians think sustainability is important when choosing a hotel and more than 80% globally feel it’s important to choose a hotel brand that operates responsibly.

To mark Earth Day 2022, Friday April 22, hotel and accommodation businesses are proving their commitment to the theme ‘Invest in our planet’.

Six Senses puts education first

Six Senses Resorts is rolling out a Grow With Six Senses program called Climate Warriors group wide on Earth Day, following a successful trial at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay.

The Grow with Six Senses program is designed to teach kids about about the six dimensions of wellness through natural play, and the latest extension of this focuses on the wellness of planet Earth.

“We all know kids are natives in digital technology. But they genuinely have that approach to sustainability,” said Six Senses Resorts Corporate Sustainability Manager, Jennifer Klar.

“They don’t need to consciously connect to nature because they’re simply playing in it, exploring it, discovering it, they’re part of it.”

Climate Warriors centres around simple, tangible things that children will enjoy doing to combat climate change.

 “Planting seeds is joyful, from feeling the contrast of the cool soil against the warm to the smell of the earth and the thrill of seeing seedlings pop up a few days later,” Klar said.

“We try to take an educational approach by inviting our guests to experience everything we do but in a fun way, out and about, not in the classroom. Everything is based on a can-do attitude.”

Klar believes in the powerful roles that younger generations can play in protecting the environment.

“We’re raising awareness among children to inspire and empower our future leaders, parents, policymakers, and travellers,” she said.

“Once they understand the importance of conservation, being mindful about resources, habitat restoration, and waste reduction – and the importance of healthy and happy communities with access to sanitation and water – they will grow their voice and become advocates for positive change.”

TFE Hotels double down on sustainability

On Earth Day, TFE Hotels celebrated a number of its sustainably-focused properties. New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star Hotel The Hotel Britomart is a leading sustainable accommodation provider in the TFE portfolio.

The hotel’s efficient design of the building avoids excessive heat gain or loss and means the building will have 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a building that meets the minimum requirements of the New Zealand building code.

The hotel allows guests to partially offset their carbon footprint when booking by opting for a Stay Green package, through which the hotel agrees to plants a native tree at sister property, The Landing, located in the Bay of Islands.

The Calile in Brisbane has also taken an innovative approach to sustainability, from ethically-sourced architectural elements to a minimal plastic policy. Hotel circulation spaces are naturally ventilated – reducing dependence on power – while rooms use filtered airflow through private balconies. Each room is also set to eco mode – meaning that the system shuts off when the room is not occupied. The hotel also uses cork throughout the rooms and the function spaces in place of carpet and wallpaper.

“Innovation in sustainability has always been at the core of The Calile brand,” said The Calile General Manager, Rob Unson.

“Elements of the building ranging from architecturally designed natural ventilation, an organic rooftop garden and sustainable materials work in harmony with guest experiences, such as our fully-electric BMW iX for guest transfers, filtered water stations on each floor and in-room smart technology to reduce energy consumption.”

InterContinental invest in local environment

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort has focused on protecting the natural environment and surrounding Great Barrier Reef ecosystem since it reopened in 2019.

“Invest in our Planet could not be a more apt theme for this iconic island resort that placed sustainable initiatives at the very heart of its rebuild following Cyclone Debbie in 2017,” said InterContinental Hayman Island Resort General Manager, Arpad Romandy,

“We had the opportunity to design and rebuild using new technology across the resort and implemented smart room technology in all suites to reduce electricity usage.  Not only has this reduced energy and greenhouse gas emissions but has provided a cost saving of between 20 and 45% annually, and we haven’t stopped there.”

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort’s water is sourced from the purpose-built ocean desalination plant. A partnership between IHG Hotels & Resorts and Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) formed last year means that water consumption is regularly assessed to identify areas for improved efficiency across the island. 

“This not only helps Hayman Island’s own long term sustainability strategy and targets but sharing our findings enables other hotels and resorts to see the environmental and financial benefits of our sustainable practices,” Romandy said.

The resort has also teamed up with Anything Environmental to reduce waste through recycling. Wet food recycling at the resort ensures solid food waste materials are biologically converted into eco-friendly and nutrient rich liquid which flows into the sewerage system, reducing landfill waste by more than 450 tonnes per annum.

The resort recently joined the newly-formed Whitsunday’s Healthy Heartprogram to better protect the Great Barrier Reef by decarbonising the tourism sector to help the Whitsunday’s become a certifiable sustainable destination.

“We take our guests on a journey of education throughout their stay, so they understand the importance of what we are doing to protect neighbouring reef ecosystems,” Romandy said.

“We are in the process of launching a new app in addition to the tablets that are already in each suite to support paperless rooms at the resort.  Guests are supplied with reef-safe sunscreen which is a biologically safer sunscreen alternative and are gifted a reusable water bottle upon check-in to reinforce the ban on single-use plastics.”

Many other InterContinental are driving sustainability initiatives this Earth Day, including InterContinental Fiji, where guests can help regenerate the reef by re-homing living coral fragments.

Guests can dive into the coral nursery and re-home the coral on the seabed floor or watch the process take place from the glass bottom boat.

Also, at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa, apartnership with Espace Bleu allows guests to experience the coral nursery and do their bit to regenerate the reef. When the coral cutting becomes large enough to be viable, it is transferred to the coral reefs of Bora Bora. Guests are then able to keep track of their hand propagated coral once it’s been re-homed using GPS coordinates.

At InterContinental Tahiti, vegetable gardens have been planted to highlight local products and to promote a local distribution channel. Beehives also allow self-sufficient honey production at the resort. 

Also in the IHG portfolio, voco continues to drive sustainability initiatives across its hotels. At voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley, guests can experience 70 acres of interactive farming which incorporates bees, solar panels, animal farms, veggie gardens, and recycled water that feeds the lush estate. The hotel’s Sustainability Walks allow guests to learn more about the estate’s interactive farming practices.

The soon-to-open voco Melbourne Central includes operable windows in all of its 252 guest rooms reducing the need for energy depleting air-conditioning. The hotel is also cultivating plant life throughout its public spaces via a partnership with Victorian ecological garden specialists Fytogreen.