Going Green: Hotels step up to the mark

Today, the word “green” in your profile is a definite attraction, and hotels, guesthouses and lodges across South Africa are heeding the message

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More and more travellers across the globe are becoming aware of the importance of finding environmentally friendly alternatives in all walks of life. Hotels and guesthouses are no exception.

The market has recognized the desire of a growing number of travellers to minimize their carbon footprint and more and more tourist establishments are “going green” as much as they can.

Hotel Verde, nestled, if that is the word, in a decidedly un-green industrial area close to Cape Town International Airport, has set the pace like few others, ensuring its operation has zero negative impact on the surrounding environment.

The hotel’s management has gone to great lengths to restore the natural wetlands to their former glory, after years of neglect, and they now serve as the hotel’s natural gardens.

Every possible facet of Hotel Verde which could be ‘greened’ has “got the treatment”, so to speak, and the hotel has won many accolades for the unusual extremes it has gone to in this regard.

For example, a Pontos grey water plant sterilises and filters bath water, which is pumped back into the hotel to flush toilets. Verde boasts a 40 000 litre water tank to collect rainwater, three wind turbines, which generate energy and photovoltaic panels for powering essential hardware.

A living wall

LED bulbs light the hotel and a vegetable garden is tended to by the kitchen staff. All food is sourced and produced locally. In a unique touch, a living wall (or vertical garden) separates the lounge from the bar, which has a direct, beneficial affect on the environment.

Every Wednesday evening, the lights are switched off and dinner is served by candlelight. This is the hotel’s “earth hour” and by the time the hour is up, most guests are asking to continue their meal by candlelight.

Hotel Verde prides itself as being South Africa’s greenest hotel and the first hotel in Africa to offer carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing. It is also the first hotel in Africa to achieve the Platinum LEED certification level, as assigned by the United States Green Building Council.

Recently the hotel won the Imvelo Award for Best Overall Environmental Management System and also won the World Responsible Tourism Award 2014 by World Travel Market, London for Best City Hotel.

In keeping with its commitment to environmental sustainability, Hotel Verde has partnered with impactChoice, a leading provider of end-to-end environmental sustainability solutions, to offer guests and conference delegates a carbon-neutral stay at the hotel.

Hotel Verde was built by owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio, whose vision and commitment are behind the design of Africa’s greenest hotel. They tasked a team of experts with finding innovative design solutions to make the hotel environmentally friendly.

All staff receive green induction training upon starting employment with Hotel Verde. In addition, all staff participate in the in-house staff drive, Avanti (which means moving forward in Italian), which incorporates fun, interactive training and team building.

Clean waters

Another first for Hotel Verde, the eco-pool is completely harmless to the environment, using no harmful chemicals. It recreates the natural system of wetlands to clean itself,offering a pool that is not only better for the environment but better for guests too.

Luxury, style and convenience have not been compromised in the quest for carbon-neutral. The artwork in the hotel is all locally sourced and the rooms boast a contemporary design with large showers and a bed you can’t wait to sink into. The rooms come equipped with minibars, flat screen televisions and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. An outdoor gym makes for a fun pit stop on your route, while the beehives might make you pick up your pace.

Other examples of hotels that have gone the green route in South Africa include:

Phantom Forest Eco Lodge, Knysna Forest

This exclusive getaway offers accommodation in the cutest tree-top suites which were built using the most eco-friendly practices, from using alien vegetation in the construction right down to recycling the water.

Karkloof Safari Spa, Pietermaritzburg

Often seen as South Africa’s top spa, the Karkloof Spa was also built with conservation in mind and a number of wildlife and ecological expert were consulted. Located in Pietermaritzburg, the spa is also home to a rich diversity of flora, birdlife and wildlife.

The Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga

The Oyster Box Hotel, located on the beach in Umhlanga, may not look very environmentally friendly but in fact when the hotel was re-built a lot of effort went into ensuring the hotel was as green as possible. The hotel makes use of sustainable water and electricity techniques while a number of smaller practices are performed at the hotel including recycling and the planting of indigenous vegetation.

Shire Eco Lodge, Stutterheim

The Shire Eco Lodge is a small self-catering lodge situated on an indigenous forest in Stutterheim, Eastern Cape. On the property is also a nursery that grows indigenous bulbs and trees and stunning eco-furniture made from black wattle and Australian blue gum can be found throughout the lodge

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