Tourism and Sustainability – Six Steps to Recognizing a Responsible Hotel
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post on the subject of sustainable tourism, it is essential to recognize those hotels and tourism establishments that make the effort to ensure responsible habits when making a reservation.
Now more than ever, choosing the right hotel for your holidays means more than just finding out if its situated on the right beach, offers the best value or offers the single amenity you want to make your vacation complete. While all these things are indeed important, that decision should also include consideration of the hotel’s impact on the local environment and efforts to protect it.
Therefore it is crucial to know if a holiday hotel recycles, makes use of renewable energy, works to reduce unnecessary waste or engages with the local society and culture of the area. Below, we offer six simple tips to help recognize those hotels that live up to a reputation of responsible commitment.
1. The CSR report – A Public Commitment
The first step of this process is to find out if the hotel in question has published a Corporate Social Responsibility Report (CSR). This document summarizes the measures, achievements and policies of the company and whether they present a public commitment to act in the best interest of the environment, as well as a summary of efforts made to the end.
Traditionally, you can find this document posted on the company Web site. Here’s the link to the Fuerte Hotels CSR Report for 2011 where you can take a look and see for yourself what this Spanish hotel group does for the local environment.
2. Does the Hotel Recycle?
Once we’re in the hotel is easy to check for yourself what measures and environmental practices the hotel takes, including waste separation and recycling bins if you feel it is important.
Fuerte Hotels offers what are called ‘recycling islands’ where the guest can place their own waste where appropriate. The hotel also recycles used cooking oil and uses the pruning of shrubs and trees as compost from other plants.
3. Renewable Energy
An important issue during this process is the use of renewable energy resources. Not all hotels are up to date on this very important matter, but those who are help prevent the emission of greenhouse gases.
Fuerte Hotels have achieved a 15% decrease in the average energy consumption per customer by, among other measures, replacing conventional bulbs with other LED products, the use of low-power appliances and installing motion detectors to minimize the use of lights.
The hotel group considers bioclimatic criteria sunlight, insulation and ventilation during construction and renovations, saving considerable amounts of energy. Furthermore Fuerte Hotels provides solar thermal facilities to produce their own clean energy.
4. Think Globally, Eat Locally and if Possible, Organic
While it is true that when we travel we usually find an international selection of food choices, it is important that hotels give priority to local resources and products. Thus, in addition to offering visitors an authentic product not only promotes the local culture and surroundings but also, as in the case of Fuerte Hotels, helps sustain local producers and native food choices.
Furthermore, among the wide selection of food and drinks offered at Fuerte Hotels is a wide selection of organic products, meaning that they have been grown without the use of chemicals or artificial items that may affect the natural, excellent taste.
5. Immersion in the Local Culture
In order to properly respect a local society and culture, a responsible hotel must draw on the diversity of the area they reside in as well as offer the chance to experience it first hand to their guests.
For that reason, Fuerte Hotels has been committed since its inception to maintain and preserve the customs and local culture through free workshops for thousands of tourists from all over the world.
With each program, the guest has the chance to experience flamenco music and dancing, participate in Spanish language classes, make their own gazpacho, or take part in tours exploring wine and oil tastings or the wonder of the local history and culture.
6. Is My Hotel Committed to the Social Well Being?
While it is essential, both for the company and for the local surroundings, that hotels maintain and exceed their benefits, it is just as important that they invest in the community? Are they involved with causes that work to protect the environment?
To help achieve this, the Fuerte Hotels group funnels all charitable activities through the Fuerte Foundation. This body is responsible for managing more than a dozen social, cultural and environmental efforts across Spain and of the development of like-minded cooperation abroad. The latest campaign conducted by Fuerte Hotels is ‘A Tree, a Guest’ which sought to address the enormous loss of natural wildlife caused by wildfires across the Costa del Sol this past summer, in collaboration with Proyecto Hombre Marbella.
The Choice is Yours
We have a few tips when it comes to booking, but most important is to be clear that sustainability is fully compatible with quality and comfort. This is demonstrated by the results of Fuerte Hotels, which earned an average 81.37% satisfaction rate in 2011.
So the decision is in your hands and remember that we can all do our bit for a more sustainable world ;)