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It’s time to move beyond just this one keyword and consider how travel can become a regenerative force for good, and how hotels can be places that not only respect but also actively contribute to their surroundings.


It’s time to move beyond just this one keyword and consider how travel can become a regenerative force for good, and how hotels can be places that not only respect but also actively contribute to their surroundings.

Category: Worldwide - Industry economy - Sustainability
This is a press release selected by our editorial committee and published online for free on 2023-03-03

Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, Jamaica

Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, Jamaica
Photo credit © Design Hotels

From the Jamaican coast to an Alpine resort to a Tokyo neighborhood, here we highlight eight of our Member Hotels around the world that are pioneering this way of operating; that take extra steps to embody a range of ecological principles and apply the concept of circular thinking to their hospitality philosophies.

On the border of Umbria and Tuscany, Rastrello is locally rooted in every sense of the term. The palazzo in which the property is housed dates back to the 14th century, and local craftspeople were hired to sensitively renovate it, while retaining and repurposing as many original elements as possible, including original stone walls, wood beams, and ironwork.

The onsite farm-to-table restaurant sources almost all ingredients from nearby producers or the hotel’s own gardens, which cultivate vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and the wine list also features exclusively local vineyards.

The hotel’s sprawling grounds are also home to olive groves, which are harvested annually to produce award-winning olive oil, and the staff is hired from nearby towns.

“Our sustainability philosophy is to be conscious about how we plant, purchase, order, consume, and discard everything that we need to function as a hotel and restaurant,” Christiane Wassmann says.

In the car-free town of Zermatt, Switzerland, Cervo Mountain Resort sets high standards for operating with renewable energy.

In 2020, the hotel installed a geothermal heat pump, which now provides 95% of the energy requirements for hot water and heating, and solar panels line the balconies.

The three onsite restaurants are also stocked as much as possible with produce sourced from within a 150km radius—and for necessary ingredients that cannot be produced in the region, the hotel partners with sustainable and organic suppliers.

Guests are also given reusable water bottles, which can be filled at smart taps throughout the property, and at the end of their stay, they have the option to financially off-set their carbon emissions, with the hotel matching the guest’s contribution.

Partnerships with the nearby community and local food suppliers, as well as initiatives like SlowFood and myClimate, expand the property’s sustainability philosophy even further.

Tokyo’s Trunk Hotel makes a statement amidst an urban jungle with greenery tumbling down from tiered balconies.

Living green spaces like this help increase the biodiversity of cities, offering vital nesting areas, shelters, and food for birds and insects. Inside, a commitment to the environment is seen through an abundance of upcycled materials.

Furniture was created by Japanese brands like Truck and Tokyo Cork Project, which used old wine corks to make barstools in the lobby. The structural pillars and one of the walls in the lobby are also made from upcycled woods from old Japanese houses.

Other ecologically aware details include in-room sandals made from recycled rubber, one-of-a-kind mugs crafted from pieces of broken dishes collected from around Japan, and oversized cushions created from recycled white boat sails.

With an EarthCheck Gold certification, Zuri Zanzibar’s approach to sustainability seeps into every aspect of operations, from the design to the guest experience to local outreach.

Natural, local wood was used to create bespoke furniture, artwares were sourced from nearby markets, and décor was made from recycled materials.

Low-energy LED lights are used throughout the property, and guests have the option to choose a cooling system called “Evening Breeze” instead of air conditioning, reducing energy consumption by up to 75%.

An ambitious onsite water program also uses ozone technology and a desalination system, enabling the hotel to operate without relying on the water resources of the local village.

Putting this expertise with water to good use, the hotel helps build and repair wells in the surrounding community too.

Social responsibility like this is a backbone of the property’s sustainability concept: Zuri Zanzibar also carries out numerous activities on water management, environmental protection, and conservation through local educational programs and long-term initiatives, and offers a hospitality education program for local students.

Before arrival, guests are also encouraged to pack items to donate to the island’s education and healthcare systems.

Similarly, the Green Globe-certified Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, Jamaica is deeply committed to supporting its local community.

“We undertake environmental best practices and give back to the community through the Rockhouse Foundation,” Paul Salmon says.

Since its establishment in 2004, the Rockhouse Foundation has invested over 7 million USD in building, renovating, and expanding the town’s six public schools, and members of the community produce all the property’s woodwork, candles, and bath amenities in workshops located directly onsite.

Additionally, water is heated exclusively by solar power and the property’s bungalows were constructed from local timber and cut stone, with thatched roofs and ceiling fans instead of air conditioning.

Rainwater is also harvested and used to irrigate the hotel’s organic farm and plant nursery.

At the core of Tulum’s Papaya Playa Project is the commitment to “use hospitality as a means to protect nature and generate a positive impact on society,” the team says.

As such, the property was built to not only blend in with its natural surroundings but to also leave them undisturbed: 93% of its footprint is pure jungle and its cabanas are all elevated, leaving the root systems and animal burrows beneath as untouched as possible.

The structures themselves are made from local materials, including palapa thatched roofs, wood and plaster composite walls, and bamboo window coverings, and nearly 90% of the furniture and textiles are crafted and sewn onsite.

Aerobic-process and reverse osmosis plants on the property allow the hotel to treat its own water, and even the spa offerings are focused on organic, natural, and local materials, including coconut, honey, aloe, and Mayan clay.

To give back to its location, Papaya Playa runs an advanced turtle conservation project, too; in only five years, nearly 40,000 baby turtles have been released from the hotel’s beach.

In Healdsburg, California, Harmon Guest House, which is LEED Gold certified, paves the way for ecologically minded architecture and design in a hot region that is also prone to droughts.

A 16,000-gallon cistern beneath the hotel collects rainwater that is filtered and used to water drought-tolerant landscaping; rooms feature low-flow water fixtures, which reduce water use by up to 35%; and solar panels generate the energy used to heat water.

A slatted reclaimed-redwood façade also reduces solar heat gain, and the roof features a highly reflective surface that reduces the amount of heat that the building itself emits.

Plus, during their stays, guests are provided with reusable glass bottles to fill at water stations on all floors, and the fixtures and textiles throughout the property—including everything from the blankets to concrete countertops and tubs to custom tiles—were sourced locally.

The hotel’s restaurant sources its ingredients from surrounding farms and the landscaping also features a variety of native plants that help restore the neighboring Foss Creek riverbed.

“We use a green lens to govern our choices, from construction and materials to state-of-the-art environmental technology, operational practices, and dining offerings,” says Circe Sher, one of the hotel’s Originals.

Situated within Taiwan’s Kenting National Park—a stretch of protected forestland rich in biodiversity and trimmed with pristine beaches—Gloria Manor adheres to a philosophy of being “unified with nature.”

When transforming the structure from a presidential residence into a hotel, they worked with Pingtung Forestry Management Office and crafted every element to honor the natural surroundings.

Onsite solar panels provide renewable energy, a natural water recycling system was installed, and the building was adjusted to enhance natural ventilation.

Ceiling fans and vertical shading on balconies reduce the reliance on air conditioning and eco-friendly paint was also used throughout.

All ingredients used in the kitchen at the onsite restaurant are organic and locally sourced, and in rooms, guests receive reusable slippers and water bottles to refill at water dispensers dotting the property. Moreover,

“We hope to work with the local community so that Kenting’s tourism can develop sustainably,” the hotel’s team says.

About Design Hotels

Design Hotels represents and markets a curated selection of over 300 independent hotels in more than 60 countries across the globe. More than a collection of hotels, the company is a collection of stories. Each property reflects the ideas of a visionary hotelier, an "Original", someone with a passion for genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity, thought-provoking design and architecture. Each "Original" stands for the individual, aesthetic and service-driven experience that his or her hotel provides.

In 2017, Design Hotels launched Further, a traveling laboratory for experiential hospitality that transforms hotels across the globe into temporal hubs of thematic exploration. The mission behind Further aligns with the values of the future-facing Promad, a new generation of traveler embracing progressive travel and global nomadism. First identified by Design Hotels in collaboration with leading futures consultancy The Future Laboratory, the purpose-driven, self-actualizing Promadic movement is set to shape the future of hospitality.

Founded by Claus Sendlinger in 1993, Design Hotels offers its members insightful travel industry knowledge, from market trend consultancy to international sales representation. The company has its headquarters in Berlin and branches in London, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore. In 2019, Design Hotels joined forces with Marriott Bonvoy, enabling its member hotels to have both a greater and more selective reach while offering its Community the benefit of the industry’s leading loyalty program.

About Marriott International, Inc.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of nearly 8,000 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 139 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy, its highly-awarded travel program.

Zuri Zanzibar

Zuri Zanzibar
Photo credit © Design Hotels

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