The rise of sustainable hotels 

Because both business and leisure travellers are becoming more aware of how their travel impacts the environment, hotels are beginning to cater to this, by providing more sustainable options.

Many hotel chains have implemented extensive initiatives or corporate social responsibility programmes. There are three factors that hotels consider when designing their sustainability programmes including economic, social and environmental.

We've put together our top pick of hotels that are setting sustainability initiatives and goals, shifting towards a more sustainable future while meeting customer needs.


Hyatt has set ambitious environmental sustainability goals to achieve by 2020. Looking to reduce energy use, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the hotel chain's vision also focuses on using resources thoughtfully, building smart environmentally conscious hotels and innovating and inspiring with sustainable solutions.

To achieve this goal, Hyatt has been heavily involved with community projects: it's helped children in need by donating 35,000 books to children across the globe, and helped 30,000 students in India by building 11 libraries, as well as supporting 30 schools in their reading and writing programs. The hotel giant has also partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to ensure the seafood served in all of its restaurants is from a sustainable source.

Marriott International

Marriott International pioneered the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Volume Programme, an internationally recognised green building certification system with resource-efficient designs. Marriott International has also set a goal to reduce its energy and water consumption by 20%, by 2020. These goals have been split into four main categories; nurture our world, empower through opportunity, sustain responsible operations and welcome all and advance human rights.

It's well on its way to achieving sustainable success through the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at its hotels, and through the investment of conservation initiatives, one being the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest. The hotel chain is also reducing single-use plastic by replacing all small amenity bottles with recyclable dispensers at select-service brands in North America.


AccorHotels has developed its 'Planet 21 programme' to outline its ambitious goals for 2020. These goals are based around four strategic priorities: working with its employees, involving its customers, innovating with its partners and working with local communities.

Starting this July, AccorHotels announced a ban on plastic straws in North and Central America. Many AccorHotels have already implemented the “straw upon request only” policy. And the chain also boasts about its eco-designed beds, made with wood from sustainable forests, as well as eco-certified soaps and cleaning products.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

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IHG is one of the most environmentally conscious hotel groups. It has developed an online sustainability programme, IHG Green Engage system, which helps its hotels to manage and report on their energy, water, carbon and waste, aiming to minimise the groups overall impact on the environment.

The hotel brand has also launched the IHG Academy, that offers education, career skills training to local people, as well as the IHG Foundation that supports disaster relief.


Hotel conglomerate Hilton met its first sustainability goal in 2014,with 94% of its electricity being produced from green sources. It also had a 10% reduction in water consumption and a 20% reduction in waste production. But it's sustainability efforts aren’t exclusive to energy efficiency: Hilton has set out environmental and social targets to achieve by 2030.

  • Reducing carbon emissions intensity by 61%
  • Reducing water consumption and waste by 50%
  • Removing all plastic straws
  • Sustainably sourcing produce, meat, poultry, seafood and cotton.

It aims to double its social investment and drive positive change in communities by:

  • Doubling the amount spent with local suppliers
  • Doubling the investment in opportunity programs for women and youth
  • Volunteers contributing 10 million hours through Team Member initiatives
  • Doubling monetary support for natural disaster relief efforts
  • Advancing Human Rights capabilities in Hilton’s value chain to eradicate forced labour and trafficking.

Innovative sustainability initiatives

Many hotels have goals to reduce energy emissions, reduce water consumption and source sustainable products. The following hotels have come up with innovative ideas to be even more sustainable:

  • Fairmont has installed beehives on a number of their hotel rooftops to facilitate the pollination of nearby plants. The honey produced by the bees is used in the hotel restaurant and as treatment in the hotel spas.

  • Four Seasons developed a '10 Million Trees Initiative' in 2011, which aims to plant 10 million trees across 34 countries where they own hotels, with the focus to raise awareness of deforestation and tree conversation.

  • Marriott International makes all of its staff uniforms from recycled plastic bottles.

  • Hilton donates unused soap and amenity bottles to homeless shelters, medical facilities and community centres in poorer communities globally.

  • In Costa Rica, Hyatt has partnered with a local non-profit organisation to support the local community by improving the lives of children, sponsoring a child, donating supplies and inviting guests to visit the local schools.


Are there any implications for business travellers?

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for business travellers as they become more concerned about how their travel affects the environment. This industry shift towards sustainability increases opportunities to support the hotels initiatives and by backing them, goodwill between your company and your preferred hotels will increase. You will begin to see the real-life benefits of these sustainability programmes positively impacting the community, economy and the environment.

Download the full guide to sustainable hotels

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