A tourism establishment’s sustainability message should be threaded throughout the whole hospitality experience but not be blatantly obvious where the hotel comes across as too prescriptive. One needs to strike a fine balance between creating a warm place for your guests and inspiring them to join you in stimulating long-lasting behavioural change.
At a time when South Africans – especially Western Cape residents – are growing intensely aware of their environment’s vulnerability and the serious need to tread gently, businesses championing the environmental protection cause should share encouraging messages of its sustainability initiatives and business ethos.
From a tourism perspective, more and more travellers are looking for sustainable tourism options. A wine farm outside Stellenbosch, Spier believes the secret to successful sustainable tourism lies in taking guests and staff with you on your sustainability journey.
“While fostering a culture of sustainability, sharing these initiatives help us learn from one another and create a stronger sense of community,” says Heidi Newton-King, Director of Sustainability and Human Resources at Spier. “It’s important that we collaborate as we’re facing this enormous challenge together.”
According to Booking.com’s recent Sustainability Report, “the number of travellers staying in an eco-friendly accommodation at least once could double this year with 65% of global travellers expressing this intention, versus 34% who stayed in one or more last year”. With “environmentally-friendly lodging” also named a top 2017 travel trend by Travel Channel/TODAY**, it is clear that travellers’ sustainable appetite is growing.
Sustainability has always been at the heart of Spier with its hotel featuring energy-efficient mini-bars, water-wise showers and Vivreau filtered water served in reusable glass bottels, being the first in SA to be awarded a Fair Trade in Tourism accreditation in 2003.
10 years ago, as a means to balancing the business and environment, Spier set specific environmental and social macro goals for 2017. It has reduced electricity consumption per guest by 30% while still guaranteeing guests a four-star, luxury experience around the clock. The initial electricity consumption measurements were 27.65 kWh*/guest with an achievement of 19.01 kWh to date, even lower than their 2017 target of 19,35 KWh.
“Your guests first need to know you’re serious and genuine in your efforts, before they’ll play a role so you have to illustrate that as a business you are taking responsibility in caring for the environment and people,” explains Newton-King. “Identify the largest energy consumers, measuring, monitoring and reporting regularly. Then start acting on the results, implementing programmes and putting systems in place.”
“The toughest challenge in achieving sustainability goals remains behavioural change,” she shares. “That’s why we offer guests opportunities to make a difference, such as its offset programme and “Pack with a Purpose” project where guests are encouraged to bring much-needed items with them to South Africa that they then donate to a school or community project that Spier supports.”
Spier invests considerably in creating a working environment that encourages employees to be agents of change. Through its “Love the Land” programme, staff learn more about river and alien clearing, indigenous plant propagation, food sources, and the recycling and conservation of water. They in turn play a key role in conveying sustainability messages to guests. “Our porters are well trained to help guests understand our environment, challenges our region is facing and what we’re doing about it.”
*kWh = kilowatt-hour
**This trend was shared by Anthony Melchiorri, host of “Hotel Impossible” on the Travel Channel, when he joined Sheinelle Jones on NBC’s TODAY news programme.
Issued by HWB Communications on behalf of Spier – for more information please contact: Nicole Chamberlin (Newsroom editor): +27 (0)79 192 0105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
One of South Africa’s oldest wine farms and a well-known Western Cape landmark, Spier outside Stellenbosch is passionate about the environment and supporting the local community. It regularly buys from and supports trusted local suppliers, and its philosophy is to make a difference every day in the lives of its guests, staff, the environment and community.
A sustainability pioneer over the past 15 years, Spier today recycles 100% of its wastewater and over 98% of its solid waste. It is a WWF Conservation Champion, and is recognised by Fair Trade in Tourism and the Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association. Its cellar carries FSSC 22000 certification and Fairtrade accreditation.
Three centuries since Spier’s start in 1692, the farm is still family-owned. The Enthoven family bought it in 1993, lives on the farm and works with the Spier team to bring positive change to the environment and community. Today Spier has a fresh, conscious energy, and is focused on art and good, ethical farming. It produces six ranges of award-winning wines and serves seasonal farm-to-table food at its four-star hotel and four restaurants.
Spier offers conference delegates wanting to do business in an inspiring environment, 12 different meeting venues with varying capacities and settings, as well as various picnic spots and open-air cocktail or dining spaces. Venues include the four-star, 153-room Spier Hotel with boardroom; 430-seater auditorium; historic Manor House and adjacent oak-shaded courtyard; and three river- and mountain-facing conference rooms which can be used separately or combined to seat 150 delegates.