Boutique hotels are leading the sustainability charge in the hospitality industry, according to the Guardian.
There has been a significant trend toward zero-carbon hotels in the last 10 years and there is “no doubt” that smaller hotels are the repositories of sustainability best practice, says Willy Legrand, a teacher of hotel management at the International University of Applied Sciences, Bad Honnef-Bonn, in the article.
The reason for this, Legrand argues, is because boutique hotels are often operated by their owners and as such can more easily reflect their respective philosophies and personalities.
For example, the four-star Hotel Landgut Borsig in Nauen, Germany, produces its own energy and recently purchased the forest surrounding it as a means of partially neutralizing its carbon footprint. The hotel is currently almost zero-carbon.
Vienna’s Hotel Stadthalle was declared the world’s first zero-carbon hotel when it opened in 2008. Its owner and manager Michaela Reitterer says being green makes good business sense because it differentiates the hotel from others — and it’s good PR.
Frank Naumann, whose company, Dibella, supplies hotels with organic bed linens and towels says the big hotel chains are “not serious about sustainability.” Those signs in the bathroom that urge you to keep your towels for a second day as a means of preserving water barely add up to a drop in a bucket, according to Naumann.
Many major chains do, however, have sustainability programs in place. A sustainability study of 46,000 US hotels released by tech company Brighter Planet in May 2012 found budget hotels had greater energy efficiency than more expensive establishments, with upscale chain Marriott ranking 75th out of 75 chains. Econo Lodge ranked 13th.
The most energy- and carbon-efficient US lodging chain in the study was Vagabond Inns, with Red Lion Hotels & Inns in the No. 2 spot. Both are mid-range hotels. Budget chain Red Carpet Inns was third in the ranking. Travelodge, Scottish Inns, America’s Best Inn & Suites, Shilo Inns & Resorts, Knights Inn, Howard Johnson and Rodeway Inn rounded out the top 10.