The Vineyard Hotel & Spa, a leader in sustainability in the South African hotel sector, has made huge strides in implementing various “green” initiatives over the last couple of years.
Chris van Zyl (pictured below), group sustainability manager and horticulturist at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa, has highlighted a few essential tips that hotel guests can implement in order to reduce their carbon footprint and to become as eco-friendly as possible when travelling.
“We always encourage our guests to get actively involved and make recommendations where they feel the hotel could do more to reduce the impact it is making on the environment,” says van Zyl.
“Simple acts such as closing hotel room windows when the air conditioner is engaged and reporting any action to management which may negatively impact on the environment – for example a dripping tap or inefficient lighting and sustainability procedures that are not being followed, are just some of the calls-to-action hotels can encourage amongst their guests,” he adds.
Van Zyl goes on to highlight a few more ways in which guests can become involved in doing their bit for the environment. “One of the most effective ways for hotels to save water is to encourage guests to shower instead of bathing.ÂÂ An average five minute shower using a water efficient shower-head can use up to eight times less water than a full bath does.”
Guests should also be encouraged to follow the hotel’s towel and linen policy when staying at a hotel for longer than one night.
“The bed linen card in the hotel rooms at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa requests guests to participate by only placing the ‘please wash my bedding’ card on the bed if they want it washed, otherwise the linen is only washed every day when guests are enjoying a longer stay at the hotel. Similarly, the towel policy asks guests to place towels they want washed in the bath, otherwise they are neatly folded and placed back on the rack,” explains van Zyl. “This policy has a positive impact on the laundry done at the hotel as there is a significant reduction of water, energy and detergent usage,” he adds.
In order to reduce the energy consumption by guests, van Zyl encourages the following:
“When sight-seeing, guests should try to support tour companies that make use of energy efficient vehicles with an emphasis on higher fuel efficiency, hybrid vehicles that make use of two different energy sources, or public transport for transfers between the airport and their hotel. When leaving their hotel room, hotels should persuade guests not to leave their energy cards in the mechanism, as this will save a great deal on energy as the room is not constantly being heated or cooled when it is vacant.”
Van Zyl also feels that wherever possible, guests should support venues which encourage sustainable procurement be it organically grown or local produce. “The Vineyard Hotel & Spa prides itself on its home grown herbs and vegetables which are used in various dishes on the menu at The Square Restaurant,” he says.
“Above all, guests should view a hotel as more than simply a place to spend the night. It should be seen as a responsible establishment that actively works to conserve the environment. Guests could also engage with the hotel regarding any sustainable programmes in place with their local community and see whether there are opportunities to become involved in these or offer assistance where this is possible,” says van Zyl. “By embracing the hotel’s sustainable procedures, guests can play a role in building on the success of the hotel’s initiatives for a sustainable future.”