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A Practical Guide for Hotels to Embody Sustainability

May 20, 2024 4 min read


A Practical Guide for Hotels to Embody Sustainability

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In recent years, sustainability has transitioned from a trendy buzzword to a fundamental operational pillar. The importance of sustainability is underscored by a growing consumer preference for eco-friendly practices and the increasing demands of corporate clients. According to a recent survey by, over 70% of travelers prefer to book with sustainable properties. Furthermore, corporate bookings are significantly influenced by a hotel’s sustainability credentials, with compliance often being a dealbreaker in client decisions.

Furthermore, the entire tourism value chain, including stakeholders such as banks and suppliers, as well as recruitment practices, must align with sustainable practices to thrive. Today’s younger generations, who increasingly prioritize working for companies with a strong ethical purpose, are reshaping the job market. This shift means that businesses not only need to focus on profit but also on purpose to attract top talent and discerning customers.

This heightened expectation places an imperative on hotels to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices, not only to align with consumer values and comply with evolving regulations but also to secure a competitive edge in attracting corporate bookings.

This article provides a concise guide on how hotels can effectively implement a sustainability framework, focusing on the three main pillars of sustainability: 1. People, 2. Planet, and 3. Profit—and how to accurately report and communicate these efforts to stakeholders and customers.

How Hotels are Championing the Three Pillars of Sustainability

Hotels around the world are increasingly prioritizing sustainability and proactively implementing initiatives across their business to promote environmental protection, economic viability, and social responsibility. Some great examples include the recent winners of the Great Hotels of the World Sustainable Future Awards. Each of these hotels are implementing innovative initiatives that reflect these three pillars of sustainability:

  • Environmental
  • Economic
  • Social.

Here are their stories below:

Environmental Sustainability: The Chedi Lustica Bay

The Chedi Lustica Bay in Montenegro has tackled environmental sustainability by innovatively managing waste, particularly excess glass which was destined for landfills. In collaboration with Zero Waste Montenegro, the hotel now supplies glass jars to local jam and olive oil producers, and also supports local wine producers by providing bottles, thus reducing waste and aiding the local economy. This initiative not only addresses waste reduction but also fosters community engagement by turning waste into worthwhile resources.About The Chedi Lustica Bay: Located in Lustica Bay, a coastal resort town near Tivat, Montenegro, this luxury hotel features 111 guest rooms, Montenegrin hospitality, a spectacular spa, and a private beach.

Economic Sustainability: Onyria Quinta da Marinha

Economic sustainability is at the core of Onyria Quinta da Marinha’s operations in Lisbon, Portugal. The hotel supports the Mozambican Girl Move Academy, which promotes female education and leadership. This program, recognized by UNESCO, involves an intergenerational circular mentoring model that integrates young women into the hotel’s management teams, providing valuable training and real-world experience in upper management.About Onyria Quinta da Marinha: This hotel is set within a nature reserve overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and an award-winning golf course, offering a serene escape just 30 minutes from Lisbon’s airport.

Social Sustainability: Claris Hotel & Spa

Located in Barcelona, Spain, Claris Hotel & Spa has embraced social sustainability by protecting and promoting cultural heritage. The hotel houses an on-site museum with a diverse art collection ranging from Mesoamerican and Central American works to 18th and 19th-century European artifacts. This commitment not only preserves these cultural treasures but also educates and enriches the guest experience, strengthening community cohesion and fostering inclusivity.About Claris Hotel & Spa: Situated near famous landmarks like Gaudí’s La Pedrera, this former 19th-century palace now offers 124 uniquely styled rooms, luxury amenities including a rooftop terrace with a pool, an indoor Japanese garden, a Michelin star restaurant, and comprehensive attentive services.

These cases exemplify how the three pillars of sustainability can be integrated into the operations of hotels to create a positive impact on the planet, ensure economic growth, and contribute to societal well-being. Each initiative not only helps the environment but also strengthens the hotel’s connection to its community and enhances the overall guest experience.

Practical Steps for your Hotel to implement Sustainability Measures

  1. Start by Evaluating your current Practices: Assess the sustainability measures your hotel already implements. From this foundation, you can strategically enhance and expand these initiatives step by step.
  2. Leverage Technology: Utilize technology to streamline operations and reduce environmental footprints. Smart thermostats, energy-efficient lighting, and water-saving fixtures are effective starting points. Additionally, implementing management systems for energy and waste can help monitor and reduce overall consumption.
  3. Enhance Guest Experiences: Transform sustainability into a guest amenity. For instance, offer options for guests to opt out of daily linen changes, provide refillable water stations instead of bottled water, and use digital check-ins to reduce paper usage.
  4. Educate and Engage Staff and Guests: Education is key to successful implementation. Train staff on sustainability practices and their benefits. For guests, provide clear information on how they can contribute to the hotel’s sustainability efforts during their stay.

Effective Reporting and Communication

Embodying sustainability should not be resigned to a dedicated department, but a step that your entire business should take. To ensure that all departments across your hotel are aligned with a clear roadmap towards achieving this common goal being a sustainable business, it is critical to follow these steps below:

  1. Develop a Reporting Framework: Adopt a clear framework for collecting data and measuring the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives. This should include energy consumption, waste reduction metrics, and community engagement activities.
  2. Communicate Transparently with stakeholders: Share sustainability achievements and challenges with stakeholders through annual reports, your website, and social media platforms. Highlighting real stories and data-driven results can enhance credibility and foster stronger relationships with guests and partners.
  3. Partner with established tourism sustainability frameworks: Such collaborations can provide valuable resources, insights, and certifications that underscore your commitment to sustainable tourism. For example, at Guestcentric we have aligned our business with Empresas 360º by Turismo de Portugal, a framework designed to integrate sustainability comprehensively across business operations.
  4. Engage in Continuous Improvement: Sustainability is an ongoing journey. Regularly review practices, solicit feedback from guests and staff, and stay informed about new sustainability trends and technologies. This proactive approach ensures continuous improvement and adaptation to new challenges and opportunities.
  5. Clear Communication Across All Channels: Ensure that your sustainability efforts are prominently featured across all marketing channels used by the hotel. This includes your hotel’s website, social media platforms, email newsletters, and booking platforms. Clear, consistent, and engaging messages about your sustainability practices help educate and attract eco-conscious travelers, reinforcing your hotel’s commitment to sustainable operations.


For hotels, integrating sustainability into their operations is no longer optional but a necessity driven by consumer demand and regulatory pressures. By focusing on the three pillars of sustainability—planet, profit, and people—hotels can not only minimize their environmental impact but also enhance their marketability and operational efficiency. The steps outlined above provide a strategic pathway for hotels aiming to champion sustainability in 2024 and beyond.


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