Balancing Luxury with Eco-Friendly Initiative

For many traveling consumers, the new face of luxury is…low-flow toilets? Odd as it may seem, more and more consumers are voting with their wallets when choosing a hotel, basing their decisions on eco-friendly initiatives. Surveys going back as far as 2008 have shown that consumers are willing to pay a little extra if it means doing their part for the planet, especially when they travel, and a number of hotels have taken the desire to do good and turned it into a green hospitality experience.

Consumers want to feel good about their purchases and where their dollars are going, so a number of hotel chains have already made significant progress in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints and make environmentally-neutral impacts. These steps can help their customers feel like the decisions they make to help the planet while at home can also carry over when they travel.
TripAdvisor now offers “green” as a selection filter for travelers when searching for a hotel. Instead of only choosing a star rating or amenities, travelers have the option to select only hotels that are doing their part for the environment, and the feature is quite popular.

The real trick, though, is not sacrificing comfort or the perception of luxury while offering environmentally-sound options. One hotel that has pioneered the eco-friendly luxury concept is the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, and what it calls the “Green Seal” certification.

The hotel uses environmentally harmless cleaning supplies both inside and out, utilizes a minimum-evaporation system for its landscaping in order to reduce the amount of water needed, and a river water system to minimize non-contact heat rejection. It doesn’t stop at the structure, though. Inside meeting rooms are compostable coffee cups, and the fitness rooms use biodegradable plastic cups instead of bottled water. Instead of a daily print newspaper that gets discarded by hundreds of guests, the hotel has switched to offering digital editions of a wide variety of newspapers from PressReader, allowing guests to read their papers on a smartphone, tablet, or PC. In fact, this eco-friendly newspaper and magazine solution has since been adopted by the TRUMP HOTEL COLLECTION™ as a brand standard.

Other hotels, like the CityFlats boutique hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have taken the extra steps to become LEED certified, all without sacrificing amenities, comfort, or luxury. This level of certification is reserved for buildings that meet or exceed some fairly rigorous standards for structure, design components, operating efforts, and more. It’s not enough just to encourage guests to reuse their towels or linens, this hotel has installed energy efficient lighting and plumbing throughout the building, cork flooring to reduce harmful effects of component production, and even countertops that are certified in compliance with eco-friendly measures. All of those steps are in place while still offering guests a bar-none stay. A similar initiative at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has the luxury resort targeting to achieve Zero Waste.

While it’s true that even the smallest measures will make an impact over time—such as switching from a print newspaper at the front desk to a free digital download for guests—consumers have shown that they’re proud to support hospitality companies who put forth the effort to protect the environment. It’s good for the planet, but it’s good for business, too.