From your next hotel stay to the food on your plate, here’s how sustainability in the hospitality industry is top priority

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Updated: October 27, 2021 2:20 PM

From sustainable tea blending practices to organic gardens and procuring from owned dairy farms, we take a look at how hotels across India are stepping up to serve their guests with utmost commitment to sustainable practices.

The Postcard Dewa ThimphuA key attraction pertaining to The Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is not merely that it spans the land of the Asiatic lion, but it is also spread across more than 16 acres of kesar mango orchards. (Image; The Postcard Dewa, Thimphu)

With sustainable practices gaining momentum, hotels across the country are bullish about everything that defines your experience from the moment you check in to what food ingredients are parked on your plate, literally. It makes sense to check what are some of the sustainable strategies of green hotels.

How do you know if a hotel is sustainable? Do hotel guests care about sustainability? Let’s find out!

From sustainable tea blending practices to organic gardens and procuring from owned dairy farms, we take a look at how hotels across India are stepping up to serve their guests with utmost commitment to sustainable practices.

Sustainability as a way of life among hospitality stakeholders

Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, Managing Director, MRS Group of Hotels, is of the view that the outbreak of COVID-19 served as a catalyst that made people, brands and hospitality stakeholders re-think about the fragility of one’s existence and further re-evaluate certain life choices so as to opt for sustainability as a way of life.

Notably, in addition to using organic produce, Raffles Udaipur have adapted some unique initiatives to create healthy and sustainable food experiences. The hotel introduced cage free eggs, adapted and promoted responsible fishing and reduced the food wastage by adapting Winnow solutions.

Sustainability in Hotel Properties: Water conservation a key priority

Not all hotels waited till the pandemic to make impactful strides in integrating sustainable initiatives. For instance, The Fern Hotels & Resorts in India clinched the prestigious HICAP 2021 Sustainable Hotel award under the category of Positive Community Impact, for some of its notable efforts pertaining to water conservation and minimising water-related risks for local communities.

Prior to the pandemic, The Fern Hotels & Resorts had teamed up and partnered with National Geographic Traveller India and Drop Dead Foundation to go out to the local communities and fix leaking fixtures to highlight the importance of water conservation. Between July 2019 and March 2020, when the campaign had to be halted due to the COVID-19 situation, they had saved over 5.5 million litres of water in 9 communities.

Weaving in local experiences to maximize sustainable practices

Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, Managing Director, MRS Group of Hotels, likens the process of sustainability as falling in line with customising experiences that are eco-friendly. He further highlights all MRS hotels across Suryagarh Jaisalmer, Narendra Bhawan & Laxmi Niwas Palace in Bikaner, and Mary Budden Estate in Binsar.

In his observation, the quest for slow travel that promotes unique, authentic and transformative travel experiences, is on the rise. For transforming MRS group of hotels into sustainable habitats, the strategy has been to consciously weave in the local experiences to the hotels overall functioning & operations.

Making every meal more eco-friendly

Prasad Metrani, Director of Culinary, Raffles Udaipur, shares key insights with FinancialExpress.com on sustainable, eco-friendly initiatives undertaken by the hotel, along with the immersive experiences that guests can expect and details about the cuisines offered.

From sustainable teas that are most popular on their breakfast menu and crafted using the delicate art of creating unique blends from the organically nurtured tea leaves grown in the Northern Himalayan Range to reducing fat, sugar and artificial food additives and introducing the use of biodegradable plastic in the kitchen, Raffles Udaipur will be soon introducing an exclusive farm-to-table dining experience, Harvest by the end of this year.

“The restaurant is meticulously conceptualized to offer epicurean delicacies prepared with freshly plucked ingredients. The Harvest menu will offer a progressive take on Indian cuisine, with a reinterpretation of traditional recipes. The island’s dedicated organic farm, fruit orchards and green house ensure that guests source their own favourite ingredients for an interactive culinary experience,” Prasad Metrani informs FinancialExpress.com

He further adds, “At Raffles Udaipur, every culinary concept is centered on locally sourced fresh ingredients, modern palates and the four seasons in the year. We believe that a meal must be thoughtfully sourced and carefully served. We curate authentic recipes infused with aromatic spices, mostly using the organic produce foraged from the on-island farm. At the farm, we grow a variety of organic fruits, vegetables and spices like zucchini, broccoli, custard apple, rosemary, oregano cilantro and a lot more.”

What makes a hotel eco-friendly? Food supply chains, organic gardens and more

At MRS hotels, the hospitality stakeholders have worked towards backward integration of food supply chains by directly investing into their own farmlands that supply them with major grains, pulses and even milk from the dairy farms they manage. The hotel group has taken the sustainability initiative several notches up by investing over 500 acres of their farmlands to supply their hotels with grains and pulses.

Besides, 100% of this produce is on rain-fed and river-fed agriculture with no pesticides, insecticides or inorganic fertilisers. Further, the decomposition pits are made, as is the preparation of own fertilisers and natural pesticides and procurement of heirloom seeds from the local community.”

The MRS hotel group also successfully delved into dairy with over 60 Tharparkar cows, (native species from Jaisalmer, known for A2 milk).

“We have created organic gardens at the hotels for fresh seasonal vegetables and herbs. Between our farms and our hotels, we have planted over 2,50,000 native trees, of which over 20,000 trees, like Ker, Khejri, Jaal, The Ber tree, Gonda, Kumhat, would contribute ingredients to hyper local food preparations and over 20000 fruit and medicinal plants including, Anwla, Neem, Sejna, Anaar for other wellness foods. For micro-ingredients and spices, we are collaborating with many organic farms in the region. For most of our dishes, we grind the masala’s at our hotels,” Manvendra Singh Shekhawat informs FinancialExpress.com

From providing local employment opportunities to offering culinary curated experiences such as the Himalayan Lunch at Mary Budden Estate to the Signature Thali Dinner at Suryagarh Jaisalmer to even the White Nights of the
Rajputs at Narendra Bhawan Bikaner, all experiences are curated by incorporating local ingredients and flavours.

“Also our foundation, ‘I Love Jaisalmer’, works towards bringing together the natives to solve systemic problems of their communities by crowd-pooling intent and resources. Through this association, we have executed over 31 projects including launching Jaisalmer’s largest cleanliness &; conservation drive and
India’s first citizen airline partnership,” Manvendra Singh Shekhawat tells FinancialExpress.com

Sustainable Jungle Resort Experiences

For travel and jungle safari enthusiasts can rejoice that the Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat has recently been voted as ‘Asia’s Leading Wildlife Resort’ and as ‘India’s Leading Wildlife Resort’.

A key attraction pertaining to The Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is not merely that it spans the land of the Asiatic lion, but it is also spread across more than 16 acres of kesar mango orchards. Not only is its proximity to a lion reserve commendable, this wildlife resort brings to travellers and safari enthusiasts a rarer travel experience of being in the wild.

Driving Sustainability with Food Choices

Chandan Kumar, founder at RecipesAdda, recognises how festivities and food choices team up together when he says, “For a nation as hungry as India, festivals are an excuse for indulging in different kinds of food. Keeping up with the restaurants and eateries beefing up their services during the Festive Season, RecipesAdda has its own plans as well. The platform delivers home-cooked food and there is a scrumptious spread of dishes from different states in India.”

During the festivities, the RecipesAdda app rolled out customised cuisine offerings. For instance, Bengalis could choose from their favourite and much-loved Aloo Poshto, Aamer Mishti, Cholar Dal or choose the signature Fish Curry. Meanwhile, the Gujaratis could opt for a lavish Navratri spread which includes Makai Masala, Raj Kachori, Sabudana Khichdi and much more. For those from the North, the food options included other mouth-watering delicacies.

The platform also has a separate section dedicated to fresh, home-made sweets and desserts, which are sure to find new additions over the next few weeks.

Shrey Aggarwal, the founder of The Belgian Waffle Co informs that theirs is essentially a QSR model where all products are made fresh at their outlets in front of customers using customized high quality ingredients that are either procured locally or distributed centrally depending on the product and shelf life.

“Customers get to enjoy their favourite products hot and fresh off the waffle iron. Moreover, safety and hygiene measures are enforced across outlets. All staff members wear gloves, hairnets and they regularly sanitize all surface areas, cutlery that gets used to make the products. For delivery orders, each order is sent within an inner and outer packaging so as to ensure the main product is not in touch directly by anyone,” Shrey Aggarwal tells FinancialExpress.com.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming key to hospitality stakeholders even as they gear up for exciting launches at the end of the year. For instance, South Goa’s The Postcard Cuelim is a restored estate that is around 350 years old and overlooks about 3500 acres of green paddy fields that blend seamlessly with Goa’s cultural and coastal landscape. Launching soon will be The Postcard Hideaway, Netravali, Goa and The Postcard on the Arabian Sea, Karnataka amongst their planned openings. The yet to be launched hotels are poised to offer restorative seclusion amidst natural surroundings.

These hotel launches are striving to provide a new way to holiday and one that blends in the best of keeping everything eco-friendly, sustainable and ‘green’.

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