How accommodating: Are hotels leading the charge for greener travel?

In a recent YouGov poll, the environment was named as the third most pressing issue facing Britain after Brexit and health. Sustainable travel is no longer the preserve of hemp-wearing “crusties” but a significant international consumer movement.

Yet according to the Conscious Bedroom Report, released at this year’s Independent Hotel Show in London, 76% of holidaymakers feel that hotels could do more to be greener.

📷 Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Sixty-two per cent of respondents said that finding single-use plastic items in their hotel bedroom made them angry. Marriott recently revealed that an average hotel gets through upwards of 23,000 small plastic bottles of toiletries a year, announcing they would be scrapping the bathroom minis from 1,500 hotels. They’re not alone; the InterContinental Hotels Group plans to remove all small plastic toiletry bottles from its 5,000-plus hotels by 2021, switching to bulk dispensers.

Hoteliers are getting wise to the growth of the conscious traveller. “Sustainable strategies attract a ‘good’ clientele,” Judi Blakeburn from Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall revealed in the Report. Guests’ feelgood factor and chance of making a repeat booking is generated as much by a hotel’s sense of purpose than an elaborate cocktail class, agreed Juliette Kinsman, who advises hotels on conscious policies.

Here are some of the latest sustainable travel trends to check out next time you check in for a night away.

Vegan movement

According to the Vegan Society, if the whole world went meat-free by 2050, it would reduce greenhouse gases by two thirds. Sainsbury’s predicts that 25 per cent of Brits will be vegetarian or vegan by 2025.

The UK’s first vegan hotel opened in Scotland this summer, boasting a purely plant-based menu and shunning wool, silk and feathers in the rooms. Somewhat surprisingly, Scotland has a big vegan scene, with Glasgow voted the most vegan-friendly city in the UK. Aimed at the vegan, vegetarian and plant-curious traveller, the hotel – Saorsa 1875 – hit the headlines for its approach. Boasting upcycled furniture, green cleaning products, renewable energy and a menu packed with plentiful alternative dishes.

📷 SAORSA 1875 – Vegan Hotel

Local focus

Lower food miles, lower waste and more ethical and fair-trade menus are high on the agenda too. Seventy-two per cent of hotel guests want a hotel to provide local produce. This isn’t restricted to the kitchen, with the minibar facing a decline in popularity. The conscious traveller is more likely to favour an honesty bar with locally produced drinks and delicacies or artisanal brands. The Pig hotels area leading the charge with their “obsessive commitment” to using produce grown in their kitchen gardens.

Sourcing British-made fixtures and fittings, local art and upcycled furniture are other ways that hotels are looking after the environment.

📷 THE PIG – Restaurants with rooms

Creative gardens

For hotels where space is at a premium, such as city-based properties, green-fingered business owners are coming up with creative ways to adopt a sustainable approach. These include vertical gardens or ‘green walls’ filled with plants and foliage. Another answer for hoteliers keen to serve their own produce is the ‘crate to plate’ method, where food is grown in hydroponic pods on the hotel roof.

The Rubens at the Palace boasts one of the largest living walls in London, home to prolific wildlife and a wide variety of native plants. It helps keep the hotel cooler in summer, warm in winter and improve the air quality for the surrounding area.

📷 The Rubens at the Palace

More mindfulness

Part of the shift in consumer thinking is reflected in the trend for mental wellbeing and work-life balance. The Global Wellness Institute estimates that wellness tourism grew into a $639 billion market in 2017 up 6.5% year on year, more than twice as fast as tourism overall. But a hotel’s wellness proposition needn’t rely on having to open a spa.

Rohaise Rose-Bristow, Director of The Torridon hotel in Scotland, believes it’s up to the hotelier to open guests up to their surroundings and encourage natural wellbeing. “Simply walking for 90 minutes can have an incredibly positive impact on mental health,” she said, speaking at the Independent Hotel Show. This sentiment is reflected by The Gallivant in East Sussex, which focuses on giving guests experiential-led stays. This manifests itself in mindful walks on the beach, wild swimming and yoga classes.

📷 The Torridon Outdoors Experience

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