It used to be that hotels could differentiate themselves by the types of amenities they featured in their rooms and the range of services and experiences they offered guests. But in today’s demanding business environment, hoteliers are learning that being successful is about more than swank furniture, and amazing amenities and services. Today’s customers are equally concerned with the ethics of the hotels they patronize and, as a result, they’re pushing hoteliers to run more environmentally friendly properties.
With greening continuing to gain steam on all fronts, guests are looking to hotels to provide eco-leadership. Whether it’s by reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint, offering smart technology that cuts energy requirements or focusing on local and sustainable food, the green movement is making immeasurable strides, becoming an essential focus of many companies’ operating philosophies.
Two years ago, in an effort to recognize and promote green initiatives, Kostuch Publications launched its Green Leadership Award. Our first recipient was industry leader Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which literally wrote the book on green. (The company’s Green Partnership Guide is distributed to hotel management schools and hotel chains around the world.) A year later, Fairmont stepped up to the plate and became title sponsor of the award, helping us define criteria for the program moving forward. Under its guidance and tutelage, Kostuch opened the contest to the entire foodservice and hospitality industry and presented our first award, under the expanded guidelines, to Aramark Canada in 2009. This year, the program further evolved to include two categories — foodservice and hotels.
Joining Compass Group Canada as winner of this year’s awards is Minto Suite Hotel. For more than a decade, the Ottawa-based hotel has put sustainability front and centre in its business operations. It tracks and has reduced its energy and water consumption by using sophisticated software and, more recently, the company introduced a series of unique initiatives that speak volumes about their greening strategy (see profile on pg. 31).
While Minto’s innovative program caught the attention of our panel of judges, it was a challenging endeavour to choose only one company, as the level of commitment and sophistication around greening initiatives has grown by leaps and bounds. Given that the hotel industry has typically been viewed as one of the larger culprits of creating waste, it’s gratifying to see so many companies embracing all things green and working hard to make a difference in sustainable practices.
Equally gratifying is the level of participation by hotel employees in the efforts of their companies. In fact, in many cases, it’s the employees themselves who are championing the cause, becoming stewards of change and spearheading innovative solutions to environmental mindfulness. Who could ask for more?