In recent years, the hotel industry has witnessed a transformative shift towards sustainability. Over 60 hotel companies are part of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, making up 4.5 million hotel rooms, or 25% of total hotel room inventory globally. This change is a profound evolution driven by a combination of environmental concerns, changing consumer preferences, improving market position, and the tangible benefits that sustainable practices offer to hoteliers. Several factors have contributed to this shift.
Why are Hotels Prioritizing Sustainability?
Global Environmental Concerns
As the effects of climate change become more pronounced, industries worldwide, including hospitality, are recognizing the need to reduce their carbon footprint. Hotels, being significant consumers of energy and water, have a pivotal role to play in promoting sustainable practices. From energy-efficient lighting to waste reduction programs, the industry is adopting a range of measures to minimize its environmental impact. For example, in an average hotel, 16% of water consumption comes from laundry. By introducing a towel reuse initiative, hotels can drastically cut down on water usage. For instance, Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas conserved 30 million gallons of water in a single year through this approach.
Consumer Awareness and Demand
In a 2021 survey, 81% of respondents indicated their intention to opt for eco-friendly lodging in the upcoming year. The proportion of travelers prioritizing sustainability has steadily increased over the six years the survey has been carried out. Today's travelers are more informed and conscious of their environmental footprint than ever before. A growing segment of tourists actively seeks out hotels that prioritize green initiatives, viewing such establishments not just as places to stay but as extensions of their own values and beliefs. For these travelers, an eco-friendly hotel is not a luxury but a necessity.
Sustainable practices often translate to cost savings in the long run. Energy-efficient appliances, for instance, might have a higher upfront cost but lead to significant savings in energy bills over time. Similarly, water conservation measures can substantially reduce a hotel's utility costs.
Starting in 2025, New York will prohibit hotels from distributing single-use shampoo and lotion bottles in hotels. When this becomes law, it will reduce 27.4 million small toiletry bottles every year, just within New York City.
Reputation and Branding
In a competitive market, hotels that champion sustainability stand out. They attract positive media attention, earn accolades and certifications from environmental bodies, and often enjoy higher occupancy rates thanks to eco-conscious travelers.
A Booking.com survey revealed that 53% of respondents aim to travel more sustainably on their upcoming journeys, and hotels that deliver on their sustainability promise will see more returns from these types of travelers.
How are Hotels Reducing Waste?
Across the U.S., an increasing number of hotels are adopting composting practices, driven both by a commitment to sustainability and by local and state regulations. While some hotels have voluntarily integrated composting into their waste management strategies to reduce their environmental footprint, others are responding to mandates that require businesses to divert organic waste from landfills. This movement towards composting reflects a broader trend in the hospitality industry to adopt eco-friendly practices and cater to an increasingly environmentally-conscious clientele.
Many hotels are now implementing recycling programs, not just for commonly recycled items like cans, bottles and soap, but also for electronic equipment and office machinery. Such initiatives prevent harmful toxins from electronics ending up in landfills but also offer cost savings for the establishments. For instance, Hilton Hotels has initiated an electronics recycling program, starting with the recycling of old flat-panel TVs. Similarly, Marriott International has taken steps to recycle its fluorescent lamps. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has even launched a "green strategy" to promote sustainable practices across the industry. As hotels continue to prioritize recycling, they’re contributing to a healthier environment and are presenting a positive image to their guests and the broader public.
How are Hotels Reducing Single-Use Plastic?
The global push towards sustainability has made it imperative for hotels to reconsider their usage of single-use plastics. These plastics, often used for convenience, have long-term environmental consequences, contributing to pollution and straining waste management systems. Here's how hotels are taking steps to reduce their plastic footprint.
Refillable Toiletry Dispensers
Instead of providing guests with small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, many hotels are now installing refillable dispensers in their bathrooms. This reduces the number of plastic bottles used and offers a more luxurious experience for guests.
For items that need packaging, hotels are transitioning to biodegradable options. This ensures that even when discarded, the packaging doesn't harm the environment for decades to come.
Eliminating Single-use Plastic Straws and Cutlery
Plastic straws and cutlery are among the most common single-use plastics. By switching to paper straws, bamboo or metal cutlery, or simply offering them only upon request, hotels can make a significant dent in their plastic usage.
Partnering with PATH to Save the Planet
One of the most significant sources of single-use plastic in hotels is bottled water. By partnering to save the planet with PATH, hotels can offer guests an unforgettable sustainable hydration experience. PATH's initiatives, such as co-branded refillable bottles and refill stations, reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles and ensure guests have easy access to clean water throughout their stay. This partnership aligns with sustainability goals and enhances the guest experience.
Hotels are also taking the initiative to educate guests about the importance of reducing single-use plastic waste. By informing guests about the environmental impact of single-use plastics and offering sustainable alternatives, hotels can foster a culture of eco-consciousness that extends beyond their premises.
Tying in Environmental Considerations with Wellness
The modern traveler seeks more than just a place to rest their head; they're in pursuit of experiences that rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. In this context, the intertwining of wellness and sustainability in the hotel industry is more than a trend, it’s also a reflection of a deeper understanding of holistic well-being. Here's how the two concepts are intrinsically linked.
The Holistic Approach - True wellness goes beyond physical health. It encompasses mental tranquility and the assurance of being in an environment that is in harmony with nature. Sustainable practices in hotels cater to this comprehensive view of well-being, ensuring that guests feel good both inside and out.
Amenities that Echo Nature - More hotels are now offering menus that feature organic, locally-sourced ingredients, which help reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting food and organic farming also avoids harmful pesticides, ensuring that guests are nourished with the purest produce.
Natural Spa Treatments - Spas that use natural, eco-friendly products offer guests the dual benefits of relaxation without the worry of chemical exposure. Treatments often incorporate traditional herbs, essential oils, and other natural ingredients that soothe the body and mind.
Yoga and Meditation Spaces - Many sustainable hotels are creating serene spaces for yoga and meditation, often set amidst nature. These spaces, whether they're lush gardens or beachfront pavilions, provide guests with a tranquil environment to connect with themselves and the world around them.
Enhancing Guest Wellness - There's a growing body of research that underscores the positive impact of nature on human well-being. From reducing stress to improving mood and cognitive function, natural environments play a pivotal role in enhancing guest wellness. Sustainable hotels, by prioritizing green spaces, clean air, and minimal pollution, offer guests an environment that is conducive to relaxation and rejuvenation.
Mindful Experiences - Beyond just the physical environment, sustainable hotels often curate experiences that allow guests to connect with the local ecosystem, be it through guided nature walks, conservation activities, or interactive sessions on local flora and fauna. These experiences are educational and deepen the guest's appreciation for the environment, enhancing their overall sense of well-being.
The Role of PATH in Hotel Sustainability
PATH is a leader and staple for hotels on the uptrend. We have cobranded bottles and refill stations in place with elite, award-winning hotels like Nobu, 1 Hotels, and Aria, to name a few. On Islands where waste is an even bigger concern, we’ve partnered with hotels like Wailea Beach Resort Marriott Maui in Kihei to help guests have an easy refillable bottle during their stay. This action reduces waste, which either has to be recycled on the island or shipped back to the mainland for recycling, costing carbon and creating an unnecessary expense.
We help improve Hotel ESG Reporting metrics by eliminating or lowering single-use plastic bottled water usage. Hotel chains love partnering to save the planet with PATH because it’s a genuinely sustainable and convenient product. The refill initiative improves the hotel’s sustainability credentials, and it’s a huge added value to guests. The feedback we receive is amazing because overall, the partnership and cobranded bottle enhance the overall experience of a guest’s hotel stay.