Doing the right thing: Inspira Santa Marta, Lisbon, Portugal

Inpira Hotel, Lisbon

'Doing the right thing' is the slogan of Inspira Santa Marta, a 4 star hotel with Green Globe certification.

Located in one of Lisbon’s typical neighborhoods, Inspira was designed to be more than a simple hotel. It offers its guests unique and different experiences by relying on Feng Shui principles and combining the latest technologies and construction techniques with natural materials, such as wood and national cork.

Inspira management invested in sustainable strategies and innovative technology, services and operations from the outset to ensure that employees and customers have reduced impact on the environment. As a result of the team being professionally trained and engaged in sustainability values, Inspira has obtained several important certifications and awards in a short period of time: ISO 14001 and ISO 9001; Greenglobe and Travelife certifications; Green Key 2011/2012; the 2011 award for Best Small Medium Enterprise for Sustainable Development by Diário Económico and Heidrick & Struggles; winner of Environmental Sustainability at the 2011 Portuguese Tourism Awards and one of three finalists in the category of Sustainable Development at the Portuguese- French Chamber of Commerce and Industry Awards in 2012.

According to Nick Roucos, General Manager, 'Environmental Sustainability is the core of Inspira Santa Marta Hotel´s philosophy and reflects our commitment to the values that Inspira represents. We are glad to be at the forefront of this category and hope we can inspire more businesses.”

Inspira has organized a group of employees, the Green Squad, who monitor the progress of green measures suggested and implemented in each department on a monthly basis. They ensure continuous development and keep sustainability values alive among the team. Inspira promotes learning and environmental education to its employees and encourages them to engage in social responsibility and environmental initiatives, which are published and promoted on Inspira social networks so that stakeholders are encouraged by their experiences to participate actively too.

The hotel believes that the increase in visitor numbers and positive reviews (Inspira has obtained 2011 and 2012 Trip Advisor’s certificates of excellence) is the result of the commitment to Inspira's motto 'Engaging your senses'.

Inspira's water-pump in Malawi

Inspira's water-pump in Malawi

Ana Tavares, Sustainability Coordinator tells us about the sustainability initiatives in place at the hotel:


  • Handicrafts made by the Portuguese Association for Autistic Persons are sold at the hotel and its revenue reverts fully to the association
  • Inspira sponsors fundraising events for ABRAÇO, a Portuguese NGO which supports people affected by HIV / AIDS and promotes its prevention and LAÇO, the Association for Breast Cancer
  • The mascot for Fundação Rui Osório de Castro, a charity for children with cancer, is sold at the hotel in order to raise funds
  • AMARA , an association for palliative care, are sponsored by Inspira
  • The total sales revenue of Inspira Water, which is filtered on site and served in recycled glass bottles, is donated to Pump Aid, an international organization that constructs water pumps and fittings in Africa. In two years two pumps were co-sponsored by Inspira providing access to fresh water for two Malawian communities

Education & Training

  • The hotel runs many social responsibility initiatives involving employees including clean up day, volunteer activities, corporate environmental awareness videos and study visits
  • Environmental awareness training and Sustainability Business is a mandatory training course for all new employees
  • We have a Green Squad that leads sustainability initiatives in the hotel
  • The Inspirer of the trimester - Every trimester the Inspira team members are invited to vote for the colleague that most inspired them. The best employee is awarded for his contribution to the well-being, good relationships and the promotion of sustainable actions within the team on a day-to-day basis
  • A daily internal e-mail about sustainability is delivered to staff
  • There are sustainability tips on each guest room flyer and digital dynamic signage listing environmental initiatives in the lobby

Energy & Carbon

  • 100% renewable energy provided by EDP company
  • Solar heater panels have been inserted on the hotel roof
  • LED and lower energy consumption lighting used throughout hotel
  • Energy Star office equipment is used
  • Lighting sensors have been fitted in public areas

Events & Meetings

Inspira runs a green meeting programme offering environmentally sensitive lighting, audio and visual equipment as well as a digital Flip-chart, glass bottled water and cork placemats.


  • Preference is always given to biological and local products
  • MSC certified or sustainable fish is used wherever possible
  • Protected Designation of Origin products are used wherever possible


  • The Vileda cleaning system is used to save water use when mopping
  • Ecolabel and biodegradable cleaning products and amenities are used, including Christeyns Green’r  and the N-KI organic bath line
  • Low flow aerators and tap sensors have been inserted
  • Dual flush toilets have been fitted throughout the hotel

Inspira water


  • Paper-free hand dryers;
  • Amenity dispensers;
  • Eco Natural Lucart recycled paper and toilet paper is used
  • All organic waste is recycled
  • Waste is sorted throughout the hotel
  • Paperless procedures have been put in place

Finally, we spoke to Nicolas Roucos, General Manager of Inspira to find out the motivation behind implementing sustainable practices and maintaining an eco ethos.

What have been the main benefits of implementing these green initiatives?

  • Raising awareness of sustainability and its benefits on the local and international scene
  • Gaining competitive advantage as a hotel operating in a niche market
  • The ability to build, through these initiatives, an economic model that brings positive results in terms of optimizing resources and reducing costs

Do you have plans to expand on green initiatives in the future?
Green initiatives are an ongoing matter in Inspira. Through our commitment to constant learning, we engage in discovering new ways to be more sustainable as a business and develop partnerships with our stakeholders to further our efforts.

What would be your top 3 bits of advice to hotels looking to do the same?

  • It is important to prepare well and investigate the investment and ROI period before undertaking such a project. An organization must be able to commit long term to a strategy of sustainability for it to gain credibility and exposure
  • Recruit talent who share the values of your organization, it is much simpler to implement procedures and develop a sustainability culture afterwards
  • Engage your stakeholders, and do not be afraid to challenge the norm, even at your own cost sometimes, and never lose sight of the big picture

For more information go to Inspira Hotels Sustainability

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