This year, a significant portion of Tsogo Sun’s properties participated in Earth Hour on 29 March by giving employees and guests the opportunity to observe this global initiative. Earth Hour is the world’s largest synchronised environmental celebration for our planet, with hundreds of millions of people from across the world coming together in a symbolic and spectacular light outs display.

According to Eskom, who measured the reduction in electricity used during the hour against usual consumption for the same time on an average Saturday, South Africa saved 575 megawatts of energy during Earth Hour 2014. To put this in perspective, the electricity saved during the initiative was enough to power a city the size of Polokwane, Limpopo! Although it may seem like a relatively simple act, turning off the lights saves hundreds of tons of coal from being burned to produce electricity, meaning less greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

More than forty Tsogo Sun hotels and casinos took the proactive decision to create an earth-conscious atmosphere by switching off non-essential lights during Earth Hour and encouraging guests to support the initiative. Restaurants held dinners by candlelight, while public areas were lit with hurricane lamps, low environmental impact candles, lanterns and LEDs.

Candy Tothill, Group Internal Communications and Special Projects Manager for Tsogo Sun says that the initiative created memorable experiences across the group. “So many thoughtful moments were shared between employees and guests during our collective ‘hour of darkness’ and ultimately, it was with great enthusiasm and the wonderful Tsogo Sun spirit that we successfully participated in an international initiative to raise awareness about responsible environmental behaviour.”

The lights went out at Garden Court uMhlanga, Garden Court Ulundi, Garden Court Eastgate, Sandton Convention Centre, Garden Court Morningside, Southern Sun Katherine Street, the Palazzo at Montecasino, Garden Court South Beach, the Beverly Hills, Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani and Southern Sun Bloemfontein, in favour of ambient candles. At Suncoast Hotel and Towers, the main power was switched off for a few seconds on the hour to remind guests of the event, while Southern Sun O.R. Tambo International Airport announced the countdown to ‘lights out’ over the public address system.

It seems that the best way to pass the time was being surrounded with great company. StayEasy Rustenburg guests were invited to join staff for a glass of champagne or orange juice in the hotel reception area. At 54 on Bath guests were served complimentary glow-in-the-dark champagne cocktails on the terrace while Southern Sun Hyde Park invited guests for a ‘green’ cocktail in the reception and bar area. Garden Court O.R. Tambo International Airport, Garden Court Sandton City, Riverside Sun Resort and Pine Lake Resort encouraged guests to enjoy cocktails around the pool and served candlelight dinners.

Innovation was a key aspect of Earth Hour, with Beacon Island Resort taking the trusted South African tradition, a braai, and giving it an Earth Hour twist with candlelight, while Drakensburg Sun Resort hosted a lantern-lit cheese and wine session. Cabana Beach Resort treated guests to roasted marshmallows on open fires and a star-gazing session.  Sabi River Sun Resort employees wore green ribbons on Friday the 28 and Saturday the29of March in a gesture of support for the initiative.

The Sandton Towers and Sandton Sun asked guests to turn off their room lights, air conditioners and TVs. Meanwhile Southern Sun Montecasino dropped off votive candles in rooms, and SunSquare Montecasino put their heat pumps on power-save mode and air-conditioning plants to stand-by mode.  In addition to hosting Earth Hour activities throughout the week preceding Earth Hour, the uMhlanga Sands Resort switched off all heat pumps, chillers, garden lights, sky signs and reception area lights.

Southern Sun O.R. Tambo International Airport offered guests Earth Hour cupcakes at the tea and coffee station, placed floating LED lights in the pool and LED helium-filled balloons in public areas. The words ‘Earth Hour’ were spelt out using candles in the foyer and lanterns were placed on the tables in the restaurant and buffet area.

“We regard Earth Hour as an important opportunity to remind our staff about the importance of energy conservation and also to raise awareness among our guests, who may not otherwise have participated in the event in their own homes,” comments Tothill.