World Environment Day 2021: Boost for hospitality! How IHCL, ITC, JW Marriott, Leisure Hotels drive sustainable practices

The drive towards sustainability is what pulls many premium leisure hotels to pave the way for innovative and eco-friendly practices.

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Aloha, Rishikesh

World Environment Day 2021: India’s hospitality industry is challenging not only conventional practices but also the image of sustainability itself in the landscape of its hospitality ecosystem. The drive towards sustainability is what pulls many premium leisure hotels to pave the way for innovative and eco-friendly practices. Financial Express Online reached out to the leading hospitality stakeholders in the country to understand how they are driving the momentum with eco-friendly and sustainable practices across their properties.

Significance of World Environment Day 2021: IHCL as a pioneer of sustainable practices

IHCL continues to drive responsible tourism at every step. From phasing out single use plastic, reduction in carbon footprint, water conservation and utilization of renewable energy to extensive community engagement, IHCL has generated significant savings since 2008 by reducing water consumption by 3,000,000 kilolitres, reducing greenhouse gas emissions including 232,000,000 kgs of carbon dioxide equivalent and saving 1,202,000,000 megajoules of energy.

Another impactful initiative includes IHCL’s brand SeleQtions, which has tied up with BLive, the country’s first electric vehicle tourism platform to provide premium green Ebike tours at all SeleQtions hotels. Guests can explore each destination with the specially curated tours that add an immersive experience to the local culture while reducing the carbon emissions.

Notably, a milestone achievement of 47 of IHCL hotels achieving EarthCheck Platinum Certification, embodies the brand’s commitment to ensuring sustainable tourism management. Thus, about 78 EarthCheck certified IHCL hotels have generated significant savings since the year 2008.

Importance of World Environment Day 2021: How ITC Hotels supports responsible luxury

Given that biodiversity is the basis for healthy ecosystems and for protecting the environment, ITC Grand Central is observing the occasion of World Environment Day 2021 by curating ‘Responsible Luxury Cards’ that can be planted and converted into Tulsi plants. These cards are sent along with the Gourmet Couch – a unique and distinctive menu collection showcasing the finest cuisine offerings from award winning kitchens at ITC Hotels. Guests staying at ITC Grand Central are given a plantable seed pencil as a token of the hotel’s commitment towards supporting sustainable practices.

A closer study of ‘Responsible Luxury’, an impactful concept that ITC Hotels pioneered in the hospitality segment, is all about sustainability based practices that respect the environment and society. This forms the DNA of ITC Hotels as it continues to lead several planet positive initiatives such as using renewable energy for powering more than 57 per cent of all its hotels electrical requirements to over 50 per cent reduction in water consumption to being one of the first hospitality chains in India to discontinue the use of ‘Single Use Plastic’ across its operations.

World Environment Day 2021: How JW Marriott promotes local farming

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Launching a first-of-its-kind retail concept known as The Pahadi Social which is based on fresh local produce and brings into the spotlight a selection of local Himalayan brands in the organic food space, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa’s Executive Chef, Amitesh Virdi has deftly curated an exciting menu which features sustainable ingredients and celebrates the fresh mountain flavours in various formats – from teas to detox juices to healthy bowls and salads showcasing high protein foods and utilizing these local ingredients in a sustainable manner.

Other notable initiatives by the hotel include small scale farming businesses that grow seasonal crops protecting the biodiversity of the region and promoting sustainable farming in the local community in promoting self-employment opportunities for farmers spanning 26 local villages.

Sourcing Basmati rice from Selaqui and other food items to support local farmers helps reduce the travel time of sourcing from other states. Low transportation usage is another aspect of the hotel’s endeavor to reduce carbon footprint.

This understanding of the impactful reach of sustainable practices forms the crux of the hospitality industry’s key offerings to enable guests to eat fresh and healthy and uplift their sense of wellness. With increasing emphasis on healthier lifestyle choices, organic and local produce plays an essential role.

At ITC Grand Central, the Gourmet Couch menu is prepared using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients and seasonal food selections. Notably, the packaging of the food is made using clamshell and corrugated paper boxes, which are finally placed inside a biodegradable bag that has an aqueous coating.

Meanwhile, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar has crafted an experience, The JW Garden, to provide guests with food prepared from fresh produce allowing guests to focus on feeling whole.

The JW Garden, as its name suggests, is a garden showcasing fresh and organic produce, sustainably harvested by the hotel’s Horticulture team. The botanicals are displayed across the area featuring each of their names and nutritional benefits. Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Tulsi, Aloe Vera, Papaya are a few of the herbs and vegetables grown in JW Garden. The fresh produce is utilized in the hotel’s culinary preparations, thereby offering guests an experience of the local ingredients.

World Environment Day 2021: Leisure Hotels Group on sustainability drive

Vibhas Prasad, Director, Leisure Hotels Group tells Financial Express Online, “We at Leisure Hotels Group believe that sustainability will be the way forward and we are on our way to incorporating environment-friendly measures that are in line with this.”

He further highlights that The Corbett Hideaway alone provides livelihood and support to more than 250 families directly or indirectly, besides training and capacity building programs for the local unemployed youth which includes Nature Guide training and providing an outlet for marketing locally made handicrafts.

Other initiatives are:

Going Plastic & Paper free:

  • Plastic products are removed from Guest Rooms and F&B
  • Use of packaged drinking water discontinued
  • Pet bottles and jars removed completely
  • Use of paper in guest areas reduced and replaced with new composite and recycled materials.
  • Plastic containers from food packaging have been eliminated; recycled waste disposable and wood pulp disposables are being used.

World Environment Day 2021: Smart use of renewable energy in hospitality

Ankita Sheth, Co Founder, Vista Rooms has a passion for driving sustainability in the hospitality ecosystem. She tells Financial Express Online, “Most of our properties are making smart use of renewable sources of energy, and energy-efficient homes. Like hot water in the bathrooms is supplied using a centralized solar water heating system. Some properties have a solar power backup inverter system wherein the power of the sun is utilized to provide power backup. And last but not the least, using LED lighting throughout the year also proved to be a huge energy saver.”

She adds, “In our properties we try to source at least 50% of the food from local or neighboring farms or within at least a 5 km radius to reduce carbon footprints. This has been our practice for many years. At Fagunia Estate, one of our properties, the owner uses diffused and minimal external lighting at night to reduce disturbance to local fauna as increasing light pollution by humans is another area of concern. Reducing the use of fossil fuel by trying to source food locally and not using fossil fuel-based power backup systems is directly reducing the production of harmful greenhouse gases.”

World Environment Day 2021: Sharing sustainable spaces

According to Devendra Parulekar, Founder, SaffronStays, “The concept of sharing a space like ours is by itself sustainable. Many homeowners are unable to make the most of their second home, and so, a shared holiday homes concept is a sustainable choice for people to build special moments and memories in thoughtfully created spaces. In addition to this, we follow environment-friendly practices, too.”

He further highlights the Calamondinn Bungalow in Coorg, where there is a 10kw solar plant that helps run the lighting, borewells and appliances. Alongside the LPG, the wet waste goes into a biodigester for producing cooking gas and the plastic used is sent for recycling and reuse. High on all-organic ingredients, there is an inhouse production of milk and honey along with homegrown herbs. Only organic vegetables are sourced from the local market.

Added to this, SaffronStays offers farm-to-table experiences at some of their stays in Maharashtra that have organic farms, an organic coffee trail at Nandanvan Estate in Kodaikanal and an organic farmhouse style living amidst a variety of fruit trees and a riverfront villa that has organic farms at Sanvina Farm, Karjat. At Asanji Wadi, Alibaug, the remains from a decrepit home in Bhuj were used to construct the home itself.

Summing up, as Ankita Sheth, Co Founder, Vista Rooms tells Financial Express Online, “The satisfaction of doing a little bit to protect the environment is immense.”

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