Spotlight | Sustainability in Hospitality Industry
Welcome to the new issue of our Labbrand Spotlight from Singapore! We are thrilled to bring you our unique perspectives within the world of Branding and Innovation, sharing what we were inspired by and our takeaways from our favorite reads and best-case examples.
In this issue, we throw back to Earth Month last April as we examine some key insights for the Hospitality industry through the lens of Sustainability.
More and more consumers are becoming eco-conscious; and when they travel, they are increasingly demanding sustainable travel, also known as #GreenHolidays. It is no longer an emerging trend for the #hospitality industry to embrace #sustainability, but an imperative one that drives incremental shifts. It is time to uncover some exemplary best practices and delve deep on the actions that brands can undertake.
No. 1 Re-purposing Infrastructure, Designed to Conserve
One of the most fundamental ways to commit to Sustainability is to streamline the ethos from the first step – the design of infrastructure. Designing each building with sustainability in mind, whether it be maximising natural light, using reclaim plastic and metal waste, or repurposing abandoned trees for furniture, it is best to utilize the existing and avoid harvesting the new, designed to conserve the environment around us.
Best Practice: Handcrafted, One-of-a-kind Furnishing Transformed Using Fallen Trees at 1 Hotel, Toronto
1 Hotels, a sustainable luxury hotel and resort operated by SH Hotels & Resorts, is such example. They implemented their sustainable ethos by prioritising energy efficiency, water conservation, native landscape restoration to minimize the use of ‘virgin material’ and to reduce carbon footprint. The hotel worked with RE-use Hawai’i to deconstruct, not to demolish, 144.6 tons of existing furniture and equipment to build what would have ended up in landfill as trash otherwise.
In their Brooklyn sanctuary, they collaborated with local artists and studios to repurpose local materials. Their carpets at West Hollywood sanctuary are all made from ocean plastics to divert waste from ocean and landfills. Their Nashville sanctuary features over 156k plants in their ivy facade to capture CO2, absorb heat, generate oxygen and foster biodiversity. Their Hanalei Bay sanctuary is designed with a daylight optimization assessment to maximise natural light reduce energy consumption.
These means of repurposing and reclaiming materials help brands to avoid greenwashing as it manifested in concrete examples of its sustainable commitment. In turn, guests can recognize the brands’ creativity, commitment and efforts put behind each detailed touchpoint. Sustainable infrastructure that are designed to conserve, unlike marketing schemes, are here to stay, and this becomes a brand story of longevity, building a concrete connection with the environment and urging conscious actions.
No. 2 Infusing Nature with A Smart Urban Ecosystem
When a hotel sits in the heart of the downtown city centre in midst of a tower of steels, maintaining sustainability is a challenge. In such circumstances, smart technologies are leveraged to save energy and reduce waste, and alternative supply chains are used to bring the natural into the industrial.
From the incorporation of Biophilic Designs that forge a direct connection with nature, aquaponic farming where fish and plants are grown together in a closed system, to rooftop urban farms that maximise the farm-to-table concepts to reduce carbon emission caused by import – all are working together to build an ecosystem within the urban setting.
Best Practice: Immersive Garden-in-hotel & Urban Farm at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore
As Singapore’s first ‘Garden-in-Hotel’, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore has over 2,400 plants and trees in the hotel. Motion sensor is built in each guest room to power down lights and air-conditioning when guest is not in the room, and 120 solar panels are installed to reduce energy consumption. There are in-room water filtration systems installed to eliminate the need for bottled water, and food wastage is also reduced by energy-efficient digesters that break down food waste into liquid so that it’s safe for waste pipe disposal.
The hotel also has one of the largest rooftop Urban Farms in CBD area, with 60 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers that supply the hotel’s farm-to-table, farm-to-bar, and farm-to-spa concepts, offering seasonal vegetables and maximizing food usage in cuisines.
Leveraging smart tech innovation and modifying one’s supply chain will showcase not only the brand’s sustainability commitment and innovation, but also bring nature closer to the guest experience in an environment where nature and sustainability might seem remote.
No. 3 Sustainable Partnerships for Momentous Change
Sometimes, it takes collective power to ensure sustained positive impact. By engaging with likeminded strategic partners, these constructive partnerships help initiate the momentum as hotels are prioritizing sustainability in different business aspects to achieve shared goals. Such collaborations can involve sustainability players within the hospitality industry and supply chain, or can be stretched beyond with environmental organizations, governing boards and non-profits.
Best Practice: Restoring Coral Life at Sixth Senses Zil Payson, Seychelles
At its core, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is passionate about giving back to Mother Earth. For its property in the Seychelles, Sixth Senses partnered with two local NGOs – the Ramos Marine & Island Reserve and Nature Seychelles, alongside Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) for a coral restoration project with the objective of enhancing and creating a self-sustaining marine ecosystem surrounding the island of Félicité. An underwater coral nursey was built along with the transplanting of resilient coral species to encourage coral growth and recovery of the ecosystem.
Hospitality brands can take this chance to identify areas that may require cooperation within the sphere of social, environmental or biodiversity to drive greater change. By forging strategic partnerships to advance green performance, brands are essentially a step further in dedicating to authentic sustainability and increasing impact. Communicating these efforts through these partners can also heighten one’s brand visibility and reputation in the realm of sustainable hospitality.
No. 4 Sustainable Learning & Growing with the Brand
Extending positive impact beyond internal decision-making, structural design and processes, many hotels also take the opportunity to nurture guests through a range of activities from sustainable educational initiatives to immersive green experiences for a more meaningful stay.
Encouraging guests to act responsibly, communicating on environmental-friendly innovations and practices, or rewarding participation in sustainable programs are some ways hotels inspire guests to be part of changemaking efforts beyond their booking of sustainable travel options.
Best Practice: Encouraging Green Participation at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
As the beachfront resort is bordered by two 18-hole championship Golf courses, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts Ras Al Khaimah invites guests to practice their swing with their ‘eco golf balls’ in a bid to engage them more actively for its sustainability initiatives. These eco golf balls are made of biodegradable ingredients that dissolve into fish food when they hit the waters, helping to support and promote local marine life. Guests are also welcomed to purchase these biodegradable golf balls for future usage and act as the green ambassadors within their communities.
Having active communication and engagement with guests on one’s sustainability initiatives is important to inspiring positive change and impact. By educating guests on various efforts and showing how they could be part of the change process will encourage them to join in the green conversation during, and even post-stay as they share their meaningful experiences. It is a great outlet for guests to acknowledge the hotels’ green efforts and build greater trust and relationships thenceforward.
No. 5 In Tune with Nature, Mindfulness That Inspire Sustainable Living
The core of sustainability rests on its relationship with nature, the equilibrium between give and take. When one designs sustainable hospitality to be in tune with the surrounding nature, it asks for guests to be mindful and thus encourages sustainable living.
This is also manifested in the Tiny House Movement – not merely a financial consideration, it is an environmental consciousness, for it reduces carbon footprint by using renewable materials, and a social movement, for it encourages a simpler, more purposeful, reductionist sustainable lifestyle. The standalone cabins in nature invite guests to retreat to the native way of living by mindfully consuming the surrounding resources.
Best Practice: Mindfully Designed Sustainable Cabins Built for Comfort at Raus, Berlin
The German brand Raus set up multiple off-the-grid smart, sustainable cabins located two hours from major German cities, for guests to take a break from the daily routine and fast-paced lifestyles. Off-the-grid in nature means each cabin has limited amount of fresh water and energy that encourages mindful consumption.
Electricity is powered by the sun via solar panels, and DIY heating at the fireplace is achieved with the lighter and kindling provided. Transportation to the cabins is encouraged through car-sharing. All of its building materials are natural or recycled. The wooden structure and large windows provide a minimalist panorama look, allowing guests to fully be mindful of the surrounding nature.
By no means is this limited to only cabin or tiny house brands. All hotel chains can draw lessons not only through the inspiration and the appeals of a minimalist sustainable lifestyle and mindful mentality, but also by encouraging guests to maintain a more tangible relationship with nature by being in perfect tune with nature’s voice and needs and achieve equilibrium – in a way, brands act as the sustainability mediators between human and nature.
As travelers continue to seek more sustainable travel options, it is important for hotels to pursue destination stewardship and take the lead in inspiring change. The ways in which to save energy, reduce food waste, eliminate plastic usage, and conserve nature are all there, but it rests on the shoulder of the brands themselves to incorporate sustainability that’s unique to their infrastructure, business model, positioning, and guest experience.
Communicating sustainability is about communicating the performance and impact responsibly, and it will in turn serve as a testament to the hotel’s long-term commitment to authentic sustainability.