Articles, observations, links, resources and news on sustainable luxury travel and hotels worldwide

Canadian Travellers are Environmentally Conscious

Canadian Travel Intentions Survey--2008

(February 28, 2008 - Ottawa) -- The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) today released data from its 2008Canadian Travel Intentions survey indicating that the environment is a major concern for the Canadian traveling public and they are willing to pay for it. Forty-one per cent of leisure and 51% of business travellers said they would add a percentage of their room cost to their hotel bill to make their stay more environmentally friendly.

Furthermore, if everything else about a room is the same, 62% of business travellers and 50% of leisure travellers would pay $20 more to stay at an environmentally friendly hotel. And, business travellers would even stay at a hotel that is 20 minutes away from where they are going to do business over a hotel that is five minutes away, if the 20 minute away hotel is environmentally friendly.

"The environment is at the top of the list of issues that are important to Canadians today, and our survey shows that Canadians are willing to pay a premium to support the environment when staying in our lodging facilities," said Tony Pollard, President of the Hotel Association of Canada. "We offer our HAC Green Key Program to our members and more and more of them are greening their hotels by adding low-flow showers and toilets, recycling bins and environmentally-friendly lighting. It’s great to see that Canadians will support more of these efforts." Canticum Hotels Group: Eco-Luxury member Trout Point Lodge of Nova Scotia is one of only five hotels in the country with a 5 Green Key rating.

More than half of the traveling public said that when they travel they occasionally or a much as possible seek out hotels/resorts with strong environmental practices. And travellers themselves are becoming more environmentally conscious about their own behaviour during their hotel stays. Eighty-one per cent of travellers said they always or as much as possible, make an effort to reduce their ecofootprint by recycling, turning off lights and reusing towels when they are staying in a hotel, motel or resort. Woman travellers are far more likely to demonstrate green behaviour (86%) than their male counterparts (75%).

Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Announce 2008 Shortlist - Finalists to showcase World's Leading Examples of Best Practice in Travel & Tourism

22 January 2008 - London, UK - The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) today announces the 12 finalists for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2008.

Responsible tourism management no longer just caters to a niche market but is a catalyst for successful development and improvement of quality of life in many destinations. The 2008 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards finalists showcase some of the world's leading examples of this global trend towards sustainable practices.

An international committee of 12 experts led by Costas Christ, Chairman of Judges, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and internationally recognized leader in sustainable tourism, selected 12 finalists from 150 applications from more than 40 countries representing Travel & Tourism on all seven continents. Costas Christ said "Sustainable tourism practices are ramping up to a new level, as the tourism industry moves beyond basic recycling programmes and washing sheets and towels every other day. There is a more sophisticated effort happening now at greening tourism operations and delivering tangible returns for conservation and community development. The 2008 finalists represent the very best examples among a great pool of exceptional Award applicants who are part of the global transformation of tourism now underway."

Winners and finalists will be honoured at a special ceremony at the Gala Dinner of the 8th Global Travel & Tourism Summit on 21 April, 2008 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As the President of the Council Jean-Claude Baumgarten explained "Travel & Tourism is an ever growing industry, in 2007 it saw a growth rate of 3.9 per cent and employment rise to over 231 million jobs worldwide. However, as environmental concerns increase, this industry plays a crucial role in driving the agenda on responsibility." He continued "on behalf of all WTTC Members we are proud to announce this year's finalists and applaud their shared vision for sustainable tourism development. It is also a great honour to work with such a prestigious, independent judging panel."

The finalists for each category are, in alphabetical order:





The finalist selection committee for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2008 includes:

  • Dr Peter Burns, Professor, Centre for Tourism Policy Studies, University of Brighton, UK
  • Tony Charters, Principal, Tony Charters & Associates, Australia
  • Nicky Fitzgerald, Senior Director, CC Africa, South Africa
  • Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development, United Nations Foundation, Costa Rica & USA
  • Marilú Hernández, President, Fundacion Hacinedas del Mundo Mayas, Mexico
  • Dr Janne J Liburd, Associate Professor, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark & Chair, BEST Education Network
  • Brian Mullis, President, Sustainable Travel International, USA
  • Mahen Sangkhrajka, President, Big Five Tourism and Expeditions, Kenya & USA
  • Mandip Singh Soin FRGS, Founder & Managing Director, Ibex Expeditions (P) Ltd, India
  • Albert Teo, Managing Director, Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia
  • Michelle White, Director, Environmental Affairs, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Canada & Global

WTTC is proud to announce Travelport as the new strategic partner for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Furthermore, the Awards are endorsed by the Members of the Council and sponsored by leading Travel & Tourism organizations, including Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Lindblad Expeditions, NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd, Reed Travel Exhibitions, Adventure in Travel Expo, BEST Education Network, Sustainable Travel International, Rainforest Alliance and World Heritage Alliance. Media sponsors include BBC World, National Geographic Adventure, Telegraph Media Group, TTN Middle East, Travelmole and eTurboNews.

Ritz-Carlton: Redefining Elegance

March 01, 2007

A genuinely strong culture can change with the times. And genuinely great training can tackle awfully ambitious changes

By Jack Gordon

Ritz-Carlton is practically a synonym for "high-end luxury hotel." The very name conjures images of old-world elegance and formality. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. has one of the most distinctive corporate cultures on Earth, referring to its employees at all times as "our ladies and gentlemen." A two-time winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (in 1992 and 1999), it has long trained those ladies and gentlemen to very precise standards and specifications.

So when the head of the company's corporate university refers to a 2006 initiative as "a bit of a culture shift," one imagines thunderclaps and the sound of masonry crumbling. In teaching its people how to behave toward guests, the hotel chain has always been extremely detailed and specific. Under a new philosophy that went into effect last July, "We moved away from that heavily prescriptive, scripted approach and toward managing to outcomes," says Diana Oreck, vice president and director of the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center in Chevy Chase, Md. "We're now saying, 'We won't tell you specifically how to get to the goal of a happy guest.'"

Has the Ritz gone loosey-goosey? That would be overstating the case. It also would ignore the deep thought and research that went into defining the concept of a happy guest, as well as the planning and intensive training that enabled a coordinated shift in approach at properties that do business in 17 languages around the world.

In practice, the shift should be invisible to guests who wish to be treated as visiting dignitaries, in the classic, formal Ritz-Carlton manner. But just as Time magazine made "You" the 2006 Person of the Year, hotel staff members now attempt to engage You, personally, on an emotional level—to make You say, "Wow!"

How do you wish to be treated, and what are your preferences generally? You needn't necessarily explain or fill out a questionnaire. If you have stayed at a Ritz-Carlton property before, the ladies and gentlemen working at any other property should just seem to know. And if this is your first visit to a Ritz-Carlton hotel, you should be amazed how quickly the entire staff learns to cater to your personality and your desires.

What's more, none of this should seem scripted, as if staff members are reciting lines from a manual. Your interactions with them should feel natural and authentic.

That's how the change works on paper. What makes it work in reality is a great deal of planning, communication and training. The whole thing rests, explains Oreck, on a central paradox: It is the very strength and distinctiveness of Ritz-Carlton's core culture, as embedded in the "Gold Standards" that every employee carries on a laminated card, that allows the company to tinker with it successfully.

"We don't think that culture is part of the game, we think it is the game," Oreck says. "Everything we do is aligned with our Gold Standards. In some companies you hear employees say, 'We've got so many initiatives happening that we don't know what takes priority.' [At Ritz-Carlton] nothing ever comes out of left field. All of our programs tie back to the Gold Standards."

There is much to recommend Ritz-Carlton as the No. 1 company on this year's Training Top 125 list: the fact that it invests a whopping 10 percent of payroll on employee training; longstanding excellence in areas such as leadership development and employee orientation; customer-oriented diversity training that extends even to interaction with service animals such as seeing-eye dogs; management and training philosophies that account for an annual voluntary turnover rate of 18 percent in an industry where 100 percent rates are the norm. But what really made Training say, "Wow," was the way the company went about shifting its perception of its very hallmark: elegant service.

Shifting demographics and societal changes, says Oreck, prompted the move away from a one-size-fits-all guest approach. Ten years ago, Ritz-Carlton's average guest was 59 years old. Now the average is 47. And the clientele are less homogenous, she says: "Today I can have a rock star in the lobby in torn jeans, and he's worth millions of dollars."

Research on guest spending patterns shows that a guest who is "actively engaged" with Ritz-Carlton's brand and its employees spends 23 percent more money than one who is only moderately engaged. A four-percentage-point increase in customer engagement company-wide would generate an extra $40 million in incremental revenue.

Actively engaging a rock star is a different proposition from engaging, say, a retired corporate executive. This suggests a more flexible approach. Suppose, Oreck says, that a dining steward enters a guest's room. "If the guest is an elderly gentleman who says, 'Good evening, young man, how are you?' that's formal. If it's a younger guest who says, 'Hey, dude, how are you doing?' then we can relax a bit."

Relax how much? That's where several months of training came in, leading up to the July change. Supplementing that training, and operating invisibly in the background, is a performance-support system called Mystique. Launched in 2005, Mystique is a computerized customer-relationship management system that collects information about guests. But this isn't just data from survey cards or special requests having to do with allergies to feather pillows; it also includes informal observations from staff members.

Mystique is designed such that if you stayed at a Ritz-Carlton in London last year, a bartender at a property in Hawaii might wow you this year by knowing your favorite drink. But selecting "actionable items" to enter into the system is tricky, and requires still more training. Since the goal is to produce authentic-seeming "wows," the guest mustn't catch a staff member acting on faulty assumptions. "If you order a martini with a pearl onion three times, we're pretty sure that's what you drink," Oreck says. "We won't [record the information] if you order a martini once."

As part of its reevaluation of what Oreck calls "the emotional aspect of service," Ritz-Carlton also took a fresh look at its individual properties. At a hotel on South Beach in Miami, a magnet area for the youthful and hip, "we had a harpist playing in the lobby," she says. Perfect for the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park in New York, but for South Beach, wouldn't someone like Madonna make more sense?

Such thinking led to a 2006 initiative called Scenography. Every Ritz-Carlton property, worldwide, was told to come up with a theme, unique to its locale, around which integrated "scenes" or guest experiences could be built.

Acting as master trainer for the Scenography program, which kicked off with one-day workshops for hotel general managers and creative directors, was Mandy Holloway, corporate director of training and organizational effectiveness. The message was that in order to "squeeze the last bit of enjoyment for guests, everything about your property is relevant—the lighting, the uniforms, the buildings' features," Holloway says.

As an example of the results, Holloway cites Ritz-Carlton's Half Moon Bay property in California's wine country. Its theme is "Fire and Wine on the Coast." Fire pits dot the hotel grounds and also are installed on guest-room balconies. A bagpiper plays at sunset. "Scenes" available to guests are built around the ideas of wines and fire. For instance, Holloway says, "you can be on your balcony with a bottle of fine wine and a special dinner"—that is, a meal designed specifically to make use of your fire pit.

Mystique, Scenography and the new emphasis on tailoring concepts such as elegance and graciousness to individual guests and locales place more decision-making responsibility in the hands of individual staff members. The whole approach also depends upon identifying and correcting things that go wrong. To ensure that errors are reported rather than covered up, Ritz-Carlton tries hard to de-stigmatize them, shifting the focus from blame to correction. Mistakes are referred to as "Mr. BIVs," after a cartoon character whose name stands for breakdowns, inefficiencies, and variations. The point is that "a Mr. BIV occurred, and we want to surface it and get rid of it forever," explains Oreck.

At the start of every shift, every day, at every Ritz-Carlton property, a 15-minute staff meeting takes place. Part of it is devoted to refresher training on one of the 12 "Service Values" incorporated into the company's Gold Standards (see sidebar below). Another part alerts the staff to Mr. BIVs that have arisen and the guests affected.

That suggests an ongoing self-correction process beyond the imagination of most companies. You might call it elegant.

Sidebar: Superior Service

Understanding the needs of guests is key to the success of Chevy Chase, Md-based hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. The company says maintaining that standard is made easier by its adherence to a dozen key service values:

1. Building strong relationships, and creating Ritz-Carlton guests for life.

2. Responding to the "expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs" of guests.

3. Creating "unique, memorable, and personal experiences" for guests.

4. Employees "understand their role in achieving the Key Success Factors, and creating 'The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.'"

5. Seeking opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton Experience.

6. Owning and immediately resolving guest problems.

7. Creating a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so the needs of guests and fellow employees are met.

8. Finding opportunities to "continuously grow and learn."

9. Employee involvement in the planning of the work that affects them.

10. Employee pride in professional appearance, language, and behavior.

11. A commitment to protect the privacy and security of guests, other employees, and the company's confidential information and assets.

12. Taking responsibility for "uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment."

Training Magazine


Contact Training Magazine about this article at

Links referenced within this article

Training Top 125 list

Travel & Leisure magazine: The Ultimate Green Hotel

The Guardian, Green Travel

Conde-Nast Traveler: Guilt-free luxury

The debate about luxury ecolodges

WorldWatch Institute: Sustainable Tourism interview

London Observer: Luxury without the guilt

International Herald Tribune: Business of Green

EcoClub Interview with JEREMY GARRETT

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Sustainable Luxury Hotels of the World: Photo #1

Sustainable Luxury Hotels of the World
Sustainable luxury hotels of the world--eco-luxury

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Best Practices
.. Business Enterprises for Sustainable Travel:
.. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts - Green Partnership Guide:
.. Rainforest Alliance - Guide for Sustainable Tourism Best Practices:
.. Tour Operators Initiative:
.. Tourism Queensland - Ecotourism Operator Best Practice:

Hotelier-specific Resources
.. Australia Government - Department of Tourism, Industry and Resources:
.. CERES Green Hotel Initiative:
.. Conservation International - A Practical Guide to Good Practice: Managing
Environmental and Social Issues in the Accommodations Sector:
.. WWF Benchmarking Tool:
.. The Tourism Partnership's "Going Green - Minimum Standards for a
Sustainable Hotel":

Starwood Capital Group and Barry Sternlicht Unveil Groundbreaking New Hotel Concept: '1' Hotel

First Five Star, Environmentally Friendly Hospitality Brand Will Demonstrate That Style and Luxury can be Delivered With Ecologically Sustainable Consciousness

Starwood to Form Exclusive Joint Venture With Steve Hanson and BR Guest to Deliver Unique Dining Concepts for '1'

GREENWICH, Conn., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Starwood Capital Group, led by Barry Sternlicht, announced today the launching of "1" Hotel and Residences, the first luxury, eco-friendly global hotel brand. The concept will combine the best of environmentally sustainable architecture and
interior design with impeccable service and luxurious comfort. "1" will adhere to green construction and operating principles and commit to environmentally sensitive consumption of natural resources. "1" will
demonstrate that green principles can coexist and enhance a luxury hospitality experience and healthy residential lifestyle. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has agreed to be an environmental advisor on "1" with the initial goal of setting a new standard for environmental
excellence and, over time, to transform the entire hotel industry.
"We are incredibly excited to be able to bring a whole new concept to the hospitality industry with the launch of the "1" brand. As a CEO and parent of three young children, I have grown acutely aware of the personal responsibility we each have to help preserve and protect our planet, which
can only happen through the accumulation of small efforts by millions of individuals. It is the perfect time for "1". With such critical issues facing us as foreign energy dependence and global warming, we cannot afford to ignore the growing consumption of our natural resources and the
inability to sustain our enterprises," said Mr. Sternlicht.
"While some hotel brands pay lip service to the environment by asking guests to reuse towels, and adding plants to a lobby, "1" is not using eco-friendly jargon simply as a marketing tool. Our intention with "1" is
to build hotels and residences that are truly green and minimize their impact on their environment. We are excited about our partnership with the NRDC. Each property will donate one percent of its revenue to local environmental organizations guided by a steering committee with NRDC
representation. All of our buildings will be built to LEED standards and all of our interiors will be LEED-compliant," continued Mr. Sternlicht.
"1" will be about light and air. "1" will be fresh, invigorating and an alternative way of traveling and living. Guests and residents will not necessarily be conscious of all of the green aspects at "1," but they will
be delighted by the richness, beauty and variety of colors, textures and materials. The green theme will only be noticeable to the extent that it will help create a healthy and invigorating environment. Enhancing this experience, we are thrilled to announce a new exclusive partnership with
Stephen Hanson, perhaps the premier multi-site restaurant operator in the United States. Steve's team at BR Guest will power the dining, banqueting and room service experiences at each of the "1" properties," Mr. Sternlicht
The initial four properties in the United States will all be new
construction. The first hotel will be the "1" Hotel and Residences Seattle
expected to open in late 2008. Following Seattle, "1" will open in the ski
resort of Mammoth Mountain, California; in Scottsdale, Arizona; and in Ft.
Lauderdale, Florida. The first international "1" hotel will be located in
Paris, France and will be a renovation of a historic property. In addition,
we expect "1" to enter New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and other
major urban markets, as well as premier resort destinations, within the
next 12 months. The aim will be to have 15 hotels signed or under
construction within 24 months. The five hotels are owned by controlled
affiliates of Starwood Capital Group Global, LLC.
The development of "1" is being guided by an exemplary advisory Board
which includes, among others, Prosper Assouline, Founder and Creative
Director of Assouline, Sandra J. Brant, President and CEO of Brant
Publications, Inc., Kevin Huvane, Managing Partner, Creative Artists Agency
and Candy Pratts- Price, Executive Fashion Director of "I have
been working with this Advisory Board for quite some time. They bring
unique insight and vision to modern-day brand building and are equally
committed to the preservation of our environment," said Mr. Sternlicht.
The NRDC strives to help create a new way of life for humankind, one
that can be sustained indefinitely without fouling or depleting the
resources that support all life on Earth. For more than three decades, NRDC
has fought successfully to defend wilderness and wildlife and to protect
clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. "NRDC looks forward to
working with the creators of "1" to help create exemplar environmental
projects that can be models for the entire hotel industry," said Ashok
Gupta, an energy expert with NRDC.
Each new "1" will be built to LEED standards. The Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System(TM), created
by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the nationally accepted benchmark
for the design, construction and operation of high performance green
buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by
recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental
health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency,
materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
Also important to the brand's identity will be its unique operating
model. Each operating unit of hotel properties will be managed by industry
leaders. Mr. Hanson's restaurant company, BR Guest, will provide an
innovative restaurant, banqueting and room service program. "I'm thrilled
to be a partner on the "1" concept, as it mirrors many of our values such
as environmental stewardship and supporting local farmers," said Mr.
Hanson. "We will seek the premier local chefs who understand and support
our mission. Barry Sternlicht is a great visionary, one that I've worked
with for more than five years, and there is no one I'd rather be partners
with in this exciting venture."
The spas at "1" will also be managed by a world-class operator and will
be an extension of the brand experience featuring unique treatments and
programs for the revitalization of body and soul. Additionally, a new
concierge concept with unparalleled personalization will ensure all that is
needed, and most of what can be imagined, will be provided effortlessly.
Each "1" will also include a state-of-the-art fitness center as well as
several other components to be announced in the near future.
Barry Sternlicht is widely known for revolutionizing the hospitality
industry during his tenure as Chairman & CEO of Starwood Hotels and
Resorts. He is credited with innovations such as his creation of W Hotels
brand, the repositioning and revitalization of Westin Hotels & Resorts (led
by innovations such as the Westin Heavenly Bed, and Heavenly Bath) and the
brand development of the St. Regis Hotels which started with a single hotel
as well as the creation of the award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest
frequent stay program.
Starwood Capital Group Global LLC has been a leader in real estate
investments since its inception in 1991. Its international investor base
includes some of the United States' largest state and corporate pension
funds, endowments and foundations, and high-net worth families. During the
past fifteen years, Starwood Capital and its affiliates have invested
approximately $5.8 billion of equity capital in transactions totaling more
than $25 billion. Starwood has closed and/or advised on more than 215
transactions, acquiring equity interests in thousands of residential lots,
multifamily and condominium units, hotels, office, retail, industrial, and
golf and leisure-related properties. Starwood Capital's most recent
transactions include the $3.2 billion acquisition of Groupe Taittinger and
Societe du Louvre, (Europe's second-largest hotel network which owns and
operates a unique collection of 14 luxury hotels in France, Switzerland and
Europe in addition to the more than 800 budget hotels under four flags
located throughout Europe); and the $973 million acquisition of the Le
Meridien hotel portfolio comprised of 32 luxury hotels located primarily in
Europe, North America, Africa and South America. Starwood Capital has led
the formation and growth of several successful companies including iStar
Financial, the leading publicly traded finance company specializing in
commercial real estate mortgage, mezzanine and net lease financing;
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, a leading global owner/operator of
hotels, with ownership of brands such as Sheraton, Westin, The St. Regis
Luxury Collection and "W"; and National Golf Properties/American Golf
Corporation, the largest owner/operator of golf courses in the United

SOURCE Starwood Capital Group Global LLC

Great Hotels Organisation launches its new and exciting ‘Eco Collection’

Great Hotels Organisation (GHO; will announce the launch of its new Eco Collection at ITB in March.

Launching on World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in November, the new collection will complement the brand’s existing portfolio by offering hotels the chance to uniquely distinguish themselves for being ecologically friendly, while also meeting consumer demand for alternative eco-friendly accommodation in one simple directory.

Following a year of research, GHO’s Eco Collection will include a range of strict and monitored membership prerequisites. In addition to the basic requirement of member hotels operating and auditing a comprehensive energy management system, other criteria include:

  • Conservation of local biological and cultural diversity through protection of ecosystems
  • Promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity by providing jobs to local populations
  • Sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and indigenous people
  • Increasing environmental and cultural knowledge among staff
  • Minimising tourism’s own environmental impact
  • Affordability and lack of waste in the form of luxury
  • Showcasing local culture, flora and fauna as the hotel’s main attractions

Membership of the Eco Collection will be divided into three tiers to recognise the different stages of hotels striving to excel in ecologically friendly practices. These three tiers will include hotels that have achieved the highest level of environmental and social accreditation in prestigious benchmarking and certification programmes, such as Green Globe, hotels that have demonstrated above industry average performances against a range of environmental indicators and those that demonstrate significant improvements on the extent of their ecological footprint.

GHO will donate a percentage of the revenue generated through room nights booked through GHO to a conservation organisation, soon to be announced.

GHO Director of Global Sales, Genevičve Materne, commented: “We believe that we are meeting the increase in consumer demand for eco friendly products and services by offering environmentally conscious tourism options. Once again GHO is leading the way by offering solutions to key industry concerns”.

The Eco Collection will be GHO’s fifth, adding to the luxury romantic, spa, golf and business and incentive travelcollections that are already well established. The new Eco Collection hotels will be bookable alongside those in the other directories on the Great Hotels of the World ( and Special Hotels of the World ( websites.

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Canticum, S.A. San Jose, Costa Rica