Marking its 60th anniversary, Relais & Châteaux, the membership association for independent hoteliers, has committed to a vision of sustainability going into the future.
The International Congress of Relais & Châteaux was held in Paris in November, bringing together nearly 500 hoteliers and chefs from across the world, and over 250 international journalists and guests were invited to participate for the first time. During the event Relais & Châteaux unveiled their Vision and Commitments which were presented at UNESCO. Following a year of work with hoteliers, sommeliers, chefs and innkeepers who as members of Relais & Châteaux will be part of the vision, the association has drawn up twenty commitments that form the basis of the Relais & Châteaux Vision and involve three key initiatives and which hold community and sustainability at their core. They also encourage guests to consider responsible tourism. The 20 Commitments include:
- Offer a cuisine that is representative of local traditions and environments and reflects their global diversity.
- Initiate strong relationships with local farmers and fishermen and develop a Conservatory that protects and promotes biodiversity.
- Encourage responsible fishing to protect the biodiversity of the oceans.
- Contribute to renew natural resources by reducing food waste and using seasonal products locally sourced.
- Limit the environmental impact of Relais & Châteaux properties with regards to energy, water and waste by employing the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) system of checks.
- Develop a system for training young people in each region in the art of good taste, food preparation and service.
- Sign contracts with small local producers who supply our restaurants, offering them an appropriate price allowing them to grow their products without chemicals or
- GMO, avoid overproduction and the depletion of natural resources.
- Give our personnel good working conditions and salaries that allow them to achieve the level of excellence of Relais & Châteaux so they become our ambassadors everywhere they go.
- Create relationships with local authorities to participate in the planning and initiation of programs for local development.
- Explain these 20 principles to our clients so that they can improve the way they plan their holidays, in a responsible manner.
- Invest locally to help communities unite the cultural and practical links between the city and the countryside.
- Create global alliances, starting at the local level, between people working with different means but sharing the same objectives (to diminish food waste, develop local and sustainable food production, maintain biodiversity).
Many world renowned properties and resorts like Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and ITP member Soneva are members of Relais & Châteaux and therefore committed to their vision of sustainability. According to the company’s launch report, the initiatives aim to help preserve the diversity of cuisines in the world with a commitment to work together to preserve “the precious nature of the earth’s bounty”. Members have joined forces with farmers and fishermen to protect “the harvest of humanity and be guardians of the biodiversity of our planet”. The aim is to protect and promote the rich diversity of the many different cuisines and elements of hospitality throughout the world, seeing them both as valuable assets of humanity and cultural heritage.
The report says, “The men and women who cook with us are trained to apply our golden rule: to offer a cuisine that is in harmony with the geographic location of each Relais & Châteaux property and that respects and reflects seasonal products. We have joined forces with farmers and fishermen to protect the harvest of humanity and be guardians of the biodiversity of our planet.” The aim is to place the diversity of cuisine and experience at the centre of the vision and for guests, and for it to be “a treasure to be shared with anyone who cares about and wants to feel a part of the world around them. Relais & Châteaux cultivates and shares this value with many different communities.” The report says it hopes to benefit, “small farmers and producers in our regions who are all too often isolated or ignored; hundreds of young apprentices whom we welcome into this world and to whom we proudly pass along our trade and the understanding and skills associated with it; and our employees, with whom we are united and from whom our ambition and passions truly shine.
“To work together to create a more humane world. The ambition for every Relais & Châteaux property is that each experience be an inspiration for the guests, the suppliers, the staff and the local partners. Together, they can craft and create a new and more humane world: one that is more sensitive and attentive to the essential aspects of dining, warmth and welcome, which are key to a more peaceful and open society. “Together, we can craft and create a new and more humane world: one that is more sensitive and attentive to the essential aspects of dining, warmth and welcome, which are the foundations of a more peaceful and open society. We join in this movement with our partners who feel as we do, believing it is a cause that is worth fighting for and supporting each day. While we all have individual responsibilities, our collective commitment is to move forward together on a shared, long-term venture.” The commitments are designed to engage others on a worldwide level and as such bring sustainability and responsible tourism – particularly in the luxury arena – into the spotlight.
The company states, “With humility and determination, Relais & Chateaux aims to start a movement to ‘make the world a better place through cuisine and hospitality’.” Concluding the Relais & Châteaux Rendez-Vous in Paris, Philippe Gombert, the International Chairman of the Board of Relais & Châteaux, said, “2014 has been for Relais & Châteaux the year of celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Association; we have honoured our founding members and their visionary spirit, whilst being perfectly aware of the challenges of today and the role that we have to play for the future generations. 2015 will, therefore, be a year of strong commitments. “In wishing to take a leading role for a better world through cuisine and hospitality, Relais & Chateaux is launching an authentic movement. A movement promoting the land and all that is good and beautiful. A movement to collectively demonstrate that all Relais & Châteaux properties are individually the stewards of a responsible and creative cuisine, and promoters of the Arts of living as the true 10th Art.”
Established 60 years ago, Relais & Châteaux is an association of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs that has set the standard for excellence in hospitality. There are now more than 520 members.