Telling the sustainable story

Hotels are making steps to integrate sustainable methods into their everyday operations. In well-travelled locations there is an abundance of choice for accommodation and this competition allows the opportunity for some hotels to utilise the growing eco demands from guests. Whilst not always on the top of the priority list for some hotels, for others it is becoming an essential commodity and they are reaping the rewards of the savvy traveller.

Nestled in the clifftops of the Northwest coast of Mallorca, Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa is increasing its involvement in sustainable tourism. When originally built the hotel was divided into eleven low-rise structures ensuring guests experience an exceptional and natural environment during their stay. Jumeirah Port Soller have had solar thermal and photovoltaic panels installed since opening the hotel and is continuing to add to its ongoing commitment to environmentally-friendly and socially sustainable initiates.

Recently the hotel celebrated its successful re-certification for sustainable tourism by meeting the strict requirements of Green Globe. It remains the only hotel on the island to have achieved this internationally recognised certification and is a clear sign of how Jumeriah Port Soller has integrated sustainable methods into its operations. It has been a busy time for the hotel, with the adding of a Tesla electronic car charging point, creating green rooftops covered in a 40cm layer of soil and introducing a greywater recycling system. The hotel is making strides in order to preserve the beauty of its natural surroundings, which should appeal to the modern traveller.

Environmental initiatives are not only aimed directly at energy and water. Jumeriah Port Soller have collaborated with the Black Vulture Conservation Foundation, which protects the endangered black vulture native to Mallorca. As well as collaborating with a local olive oil co-operative ‘Cooperative de Soller’ and creating a bespoke oil available to visitors and guests.

A hotel’s corporate social responsibility policies should also satisfy their employees and can be used to entice the best workers. This year Jumeriah Port Soller signed an agreement with ALLCOT, an international company that offers various services related to climate protection. Together with the hotel they developed a project which offset carbon emissions produced by employee trips in 2015.

The total volume of emissions generated by the hotel’s employees came to 39 mtCO2e (metric tonnes of equivalent CO2). They chose a project located in the state of Pará, Brazil, the ‘Brazilian Rosewood Amazon Conservation’ which protects one of the most diverse and abundant ecosystems on the planet. The hotel will now invest in the project to eliminate the equivalent volume of emissions from the atmosphere to what it has produced. The project will protect the fragile ecosystem of the Amazon Rainforest and simultaneously give the depleted forests a chance to regenerate.

Will other hotels follow this move? Some will argue that by respecting the harmony of the landscape they exist in, they are doing enough already. Others may look to various services that relate to the calculation, reduction and compensation of carbon footprints their teams produce.

How a hotel communicates its activities may be the key for attracting future guests, especially as traveller numbers are predicted to only go up. International tourist arrivals have increased from 25 million globally in 1950, to 278 million in 1980, 527 million in 1995 and 1.1 billion in 2015. This is according to The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which also expects international tourists to increase by 3.3% a year between 2010 and 2030 to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. Many of these are likely to be of travellers who place value on a hotel’s authentic green initiatives.

With this impressive growth, hotels will need to make sure they tell their story, and broadcast what difference their activities make. If there initiatives reduce impact then they must engage the guest and even invite them to support the hotels efforts.

Some speak of unfair advantages and it can be argued that modern hotels gain from being able to create buildings and operations that utilise all modern advancements to reduce their impact. For older properties other challenges exist which they must overcome if they wish to become more environmentally friendly. The fear for both is that some hotels may ‘greenwash’, a deceitful practice of promoting

environmentally friendly programs while hide ulterior motives. The ultimate consequence of this is losing credibility with guests, which may directly or indirectly alter their travel decisions in the future.

Some hotels will continue to question whether green policies really matter to guests. If they chose to escape the busy modern world by relaxing and indulging in a hotel stay, do they look into environmental policies the hotel operates? It can be argued that for millennial and younger generations, the pre-thought is actually not to question the policies, because they are possibly under the assumption that all hotels must have working and successful initiatives in place by now.

A balance between a great guest experience and a care for the planet may be the ultimate aim.

Jumeriah Port Soller have shown an impressive work ethic by integrating environmental policies and strategies into the hotel. Its enviable location overlooking the sea on one side and the recently declared UNESCO Heritage Site of Sierra de Tramuntana on the other will tempt many travellers. How it uses its sustainable activities to guide its daily decision making process should entice even more.