Environmentally friendly breaks aren’t just ethical and fashionable – they can also be a great commission earner for agents.


A third of travellers would pay more for an eco-friendly hotel or resort, according to a survey by TripAdvisor. Of those, 25% would be willing to pay a 5%-10% premium and 12% would pay a 10%-20% premium.


Environmental awareness is still more common among independently operated properties than international chain hotels, but with new government incentives in place running a green hotel is becoming more economically feasible.


New five-star hotel brand 1 Hotel & Residences is claiming to set new standards for environmental excellence. According to the developers, it will show that green principles can exist alongside a luxury hotel experience.


“Our intention is to build hotels that are truly green and minimise their impact on their environment,” said chief executive Barry Sternlicht, whose company plans to have 15 hotels signed or under construction within the next 18 months.


New brands within established hotel groups are differentiating themselves by addressing the issue. Aloft by Starwood Hotels is using recycled teak in its properties and has provided special parking spaces for hybrid cars.


Hyatt’s Andaz brand also promises to incorporate eco-friendly materials into all new builds.


But it’s not just new brands that are adopting the green approach. Government, public and media pressure has meant that many existing hotel brands are boosting their eco-friendly credentials too.


Here’s what some of them have to offer.


 


Fairmont Hotels and Resorts


Fairmont’s Green Partnership focuses on waste management, energy and water conservation and community outreach programmes.


Last year 249 wind-powered check-in computers were introduced at the brand’s North American properties resulting in a greenhouse gas reduction of almost 100 tonnes over the following year.


Initiatives include coral reef protection in Hawaii, conservation of endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whale, plus efforts to address deforestation and river conservation.


Top eco-hotel:Fairmont Mayakoba, Mexico. In partnership with the World Heritage Alliance, this hotel supports the natural and cultural history of the Mayan people and the nearby Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve, which comprises 1.3 million acres of tropical eco-systems and 23 archaeological sites. Prices start from £136 per room per night.


 


Hilton


The ‘We care!’ programme, launched in January 2006, involves 79 Hilton properties in Europe and Africa.


Carbon-free electricity will be introduced in 69 Hilton hotels in the UK and Ireland this year, seeing an offset of CO2 emissions by more than 64,000 tonnes. This follows an investment of £8 million in 2006 and 2007 in energy efficiency.


Top eco-hotel: Hilton Malta reduced energy consumption in 2006 by 6.5%. Prices start at £184 per room per night.


 


Marriott


Marriott County Hall, LondonEnvironmentally Conscious Hospitality Operations launched in 1994, focusing on water and energy conservation, clean air, waste management and wildlife preservation.


Marriott is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 20% before 2010.


In 2006, the group replaced 450,000 light bulbs with fluorescent lighting and saved 65% on lighting costs and energy used in guest rooms. 


Top eco-hotel:Marriott County Hall – one of 17 Marriott hotels in Greater London to have achieved Green Globe certification in November 2006. Prices start from £174 per room, per night.


 


Rezidor Hotel Group


Radisson SAS Hotel, EdinburghRezidor’s Responsible Business programme, set up in 2001, covers health and safety, social responsibility and environmental impact.


The programme has partnered with The CarbonNeutral Company to offer guests the chance to offset greenhouse gas emissions from their stay. In 2005 the group raised almost £500,000 for local charities and reduced its C02 emissions by 13%.


Top eco-hotel:Radisson SAS Hotel, Edinburgh. Since appointing a full-time environmental adviser in January, the hotel has reduced waste volume by over 50%. It was recently awarded the Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold Award. Prices start at £120 per room, per night.


 


Sandals Resorts


Sandals has made a ‘Four R’ commitment – reduce, re-use, recycle, and rethink. Each of the 16 properties has been Green Globe certified by the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism.


All of the properties employs an environmental manager, several of whom have been the local representatives of the Coral Reef Alliance. Each resort conducts beach-cleaning activities at least twice a year.


All of the hotels adopt schools and, in some cases, entire communities. Activities include tree planting, beach clean-ups and wildlife protection.


Top eco-hotel: Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach and Villa Resort, winner of 2007 Green Hotel of the Year at the American Express Caribbean Environmental Awards. Seven nights at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios costs from £1,284 in August with Kuoni. This is on an all-inclusive basis and includes return flights and transfers.