Hoteliers around the world pledge to do good

Cocoa farmers in Peru are helped by Accor trees

Cocoa farmers in Peru are helped by Accor trees

With the season of goodwill in full flight, hoteliers around the world have been revealing their own commitments to help their fellow men and women, or to battle environmental issues.

With awareness of ocean plastics at an all-time high thanks to the BBC’s Blue Planet series, the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate, UK announced their renowned curry restaurant - the Empire Room – would no longer be using plastic containers but instead provide room service meals and takeaways in tiffin containers.

Hotelier James Thomas said, “Using tiffins is logical and environmentally friendly. I was moved by David Attenborough’s excellent Blue Planet documentary series showing the damage plastics cause to the environment, and decided we should be making a contribution to the health of our seas.”

Guests at the Royal Harbour Hotel regularly take sea safaris to see a local seal colony, basking on sandbanks at low tide in a national nature reserve.

Members of the Empire room’s Tiffin Club scheme will pay a nominal fee, which includes a deposit on the tiffin tins and a £5 donation to an environmental group committed to removing plastic waste from local beaches. Customers simply wash and swap the tins with their next takeaway.

Head chef Craig Mather said, “Because of the Empire Room’s theme – recalling days’ of the Raj, the fact that we overlook the sea and are dependent on locally landed, sustainable seafood – an ecologically sound Tiffin Club, aimed at protecting marine life, makes perfect sense.”

Mather is also considering offering a small, optional donation of 25p for marine conservation, matched by the restaurant, in the price of each tiffin takeaway order.

To launch the Club, the restaurant hosted a charity fund-raising dinner in aid of marine conservation and will be donating £5 Tiffin Club meal vouchers to Thanet Coast Project volunteers taking part in their annual ‘Beachwatch’ clean up, as part of the Great British Beach Clean.

Elsewhere, Malmaison Hotel du Vin committed to cut their single-use plastics footprint by swapping the 750,000 plastic straws used annually across the group with environmentally friendly paper straws.

This follows the initiative which removed plastic cotton buds from guest amenity packs, replacing them with paper-based ones.

Simon Bardsley, Director of Procurement said, “We cannot escape the consequences of throwing away vast quantities of plastic coupled with the ever environmentally conscious customer – this was a simple choice for us as a business and something we have been reviewing internally for some time. We will continue to review our internal operations to ensure we operate as an environmentally responsible business.”

Meanwhile, AccorHotels launched a funding platform to support agroforestry projects around the world.

As part of its Plant For the Planet programme, AccorHotels has launched an online platform – accorhotels.purprojet.shop – enabling participants to fund agroforestry projects in countries in which the group operates. Jointly developed with long-term partner Pur Projet, the purpose of the site is to raise awareness and involve as many people as possible – including guests staying in its hotels – regarding the transition towards agroecology.

For the launch of the platform, five planting projects have been selected in different countries: France, Romania, Senegal, Indonesia and Peru. Participants can choose to plant one or more trees (ash, avocado, eucalyptus, mango, baobab, oak, birch and fruit trees for example), either for themselves or on someone else’s behalf. Once the purchase is confirmed (with the price ranging from €3 to €10 per tree depending on the species and the country), they will receive a planting certificate detailing the species, its location and the name of the farmer on whose land the tree or trees will be planted. Via a personal account in the “My Forest” section, the buyer or the recipient of the gift can follow the progress of the project.

Since 2009, AccorHotels has been supporting local communities and small-scale farmers through Plant For the Planet, part of its Planet 21 sustainability programme. With the help of its partner Pur Projet, the Group is committed to planting trees on the edge of or in the heart of cultivated or grazing land, in a drive to preserve and regenerate ecosystems. The aim is to promote the transition towards more eco-friendly farming and offset the impact on water quality and biodiversity resulting from the agricultural production stage of the food consumed in the hotels.

Plant for the Planet is funded via 50% of the savings made on laundry costs, when guests staying several nights choose to reuse their towels. More than 2,200 Accor group hotels currently participate in the programme globally. To date, more than 5 million trees have been planted in 26 countries and the Group aims to fund the planting of 10 million trees by 2021.

Other hotels are supporting charities.

Deutsche Hospitality has entered into a long-term agreement with the Reiner Meutsch FLY & HELP Foundation. Steigenberger’s COO Thomas Willms marked the start of the new arrangement by handing over a cheque for €60,000.

FLY & HELP supports education in developing countries. The donation made by Deutsche Hospitality will be used to help fund and expand two schools in Uganda and Sri Lanka.

Some of the contribution comes from donation boxes, whilst further sums were generated via the “Deutsche Hospitality 1 x 1” project. The company has created a charitable pot, to which €1 is added for every online booking made via its own websites. Donation boxes for the FLY & HELP project have been placed in the foyers of all IntercityHotels since 2013. The money collected has already helped to finance a new cistern and further classrooms for a school in Rwanda attended by 759 pupils. Willms said, “Children are our future. For this reason, it is only right and fair to offer them good prospects. Living up to social responsibility is something that is very close to our hearts. FLY & HELP provides children with access to education and thus enables them to determine the course of their own lives. We are proud that the assistance we give helps to achieve this.”

Local children living near Deutsche Hospitality hotels also had cause to celebrate over the festive season. “A Christmas tree full of children’s wishes” is a long-standing campaign via which hotels work with a local social institution, such as the German Society for the Protection of Children, or children’s and young people’s homes, to make dreams come true for disadvantaged youngsters. During the period leading up to Christmas, trees hung with gift requests from needy children and young people are erected in the entrance areas of participating hotels. Guests then have the opportunity to take down these cards and fulfil one of more of the wishes.

Hotels the world over were also sharing gifts and donations with local charities in the festive spirit of giving. No doubt many will reap the rewards in 2018.

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