Green hotels: Towards sustainable and attractive properties

Green hotels: Towards sustainable and attractive properties

There is no doubt that many businesses are opting for more environmentally aware approaches and solutions in doing things. The hospitality industry is no different, and the region is richer in sustainable hotels and resorts attracting tourists from all over the world, especially because of the MENA’s nature richness and diversity. HN discovers how two of the region’s green hotels are developing their services.

Alila Jabal Akhdar – Oman

Karl Marshall – General Manager

Why do you think sustainable properties are trendier nowadays?

I’m not sure that ‘trend’ is an appropriate word to use when describing sustainability. To me, ‘trend’ sounds like a habit that will pass and we simply cannot afford for that to happen. Consumers are becoming more acutely aware of the deteriorating condition of our planet, and as a community we are waking up to the fact that it is up to us all to correct that course. People are making conscious decisions in their lives to support those which are doing their part. 

Today’s traveler is no longer content to remain an observer but desires participation and wants to fully experience all the facets of a destination in all its authenticity. By integrating our respect and understanding of the local environment, community, culture, cuisine, adventure, wellness, etc., we aim to engage our guests with all their senses. In all of our activities, we are committed to respecting and preserving the way of life and traditions of local communities, and Alila is endeavoring to minimize our impact on the environment by adhering to eco-sustainability policies.

Alila Jabal Akhdar’s commitment to the environment, as evidenced throughout the resort, can be seen in our discreet architecture, built from local stone in accordance with LEED environmental design principles. Further, we have a “no plastic” policy, which extends as far as bottling our own water in glass rather than serving it in plastic bottles, we recycle all waste water, compost food waste and operate an perennial vegetable and herb garden. We also use solar power to heat water. The resort is also making great strides towards achieving its next environmental target – zero waste to landfill. We were awarded silver EarthCheck status in 2019, and the resort has a five R’s philosophy of zero waste: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot.

 What characterizes your hotel?

Our brand promise is that every visitor to Alila will take home memories of a truly unforgettable experience, one that has touched them in a meaningful and uniquely personal way. Alila hotels are developed in some of the most naturally spectacular locations, and the experience of staying here is grounded in the absolute height of contemporary comfort and luxury, with superbly attentive hospitality.

At Alila Jabal Akhdar, our traditional and locally inspired building architecture compliments the landscape in which it sits and we use many locally produced artifacts within our interior design. The murals in the rooms are all hand painted by local artisans. We use as much locally grown produce and goods as possible and we support the local community through employment, partnerships and inclusion in our activities. It is the combined effect of these aspects that create the spirit of our resort and a true reflection of Omani culture.

 Who is your main audience?

Alila appeals to the seekers, the explorers, the inquisitive — those who have a profound appetite for life that drives them to discover. These discerning global travelers appreciate the natural environment and the exclusivity of a luxury retreat developed in harmony with the destination. Our guests want to participate, to fully engage in all the facets of a destination, to feel connected, to be enriched…and to be surprised.

Be it couples or families, our guests are those who love nature, rustic luxury and bespoke, authentic experiences. We are a mountain retreat situated 2,000 meters above sea level. Jabal Akhdar (the Green Mountain) has some of the most amazing treks and for those with a head for heights our via-Ferrata is a must-do adventure for any visitor to Oman.

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Do you think such properties will become more popular after COVID-19 and why?

Absolutely, the pandemic has, in many ways, created a new way of thinking where people, now more than ever, realize the importance of both physical and mental well-being. Our resort is not only environmentally friendly, but it also offers a wide range of activities aimed at mind, body and soul, such as sunrise yoga overlooking a mountain gorge and our meditation classes in the meditation garden.

Do you think such a hotel can become a countrywide attraction and a destination for foreign travelers?

We already are. Oman as a destination has become very popular both internationally and across the region for travelers looking to gain an insight into its rich history, geography and culture. Alila Jabal Akdhar has been recognized globally for its unique approach to luxury, to provide a world-class level of service while promoting a connection with an authentic local experience. With the opening of a second Alila in Oman, Salalah, Alila Hinu Bay, guests will soon have the opportunity to experience very different sides of Oman by staying at both resorts.

 Where do you see the industry heading?

Tourism is ever-evolving and what we see happening today is exciting. Obviously, at this particular time, the industry has taken steps to adapt to a “new, post-COVID world”. That aside, we see increased emphasis on sustainability, well-being and uniqueness. Resorts, hotels and, indeed, destinations are getting better at expressing their unique personality. We see less “sameness” in the industry. What an exciting time to be involved!

Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea – Jordan

Abedrabo Twaissi – General Manager

Why do you think sustainable properties are trendier nowadays?

One of the most important trends for this century is sustainability as awareness has increased in societies regarding its effect on people’s life, health, environment, and the future of the next generation. Guests are more aware of the impact it has on the environment and we all feel that we have a responsibility towards it.

What characterizes your hotel?

Taking part in our global initiative of Accor, Planet 21 towards healthy and sustainable food, Movenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea harvests from its gardens 2,000 kg of marmalade each year and serves it to its guests. The property has also installed charging stations for electric cars with an aim to encourage guests to visit our property, which is 60 km away from the country’s capital and to provide more solutions to customers with sustainable objectives.

Who is your main audience?

Foreign and domestic travelers who value the unique location of our resort being at the lowest point on earth realizing the significance of our sustainable practices towards the environment. In other words, these could be the eco-leisure travelers.

Do you think such properties will grow more popular after COVID-19 and why?

Yes, the new generation is more aware and involved in sustainability and the world’s environment. After COVID-19, the community has realized that we need to manage climate-related risks and inspire economic activity that creates value for humankind if we are to create a world that is sustainable and well-equipped to fight awaiting crises.

Do you think such a hotel can become a country attraction and a destination for foreign travelers?

Yes, sustainable tourism practices are crucial aspects for the long term preservation of culture and the social-economic stability. With this considered, customers and guests want to take part and a vital role, this includes their vacation destinations.

Where do you see the industry heading?

Post-pandemic, as more millennials are entering the bracket of eco-friendly travelers, advanced sustainable practices are in due course to be implemented focusing on what is given back to the environment and to what customers and guests value and appreciate in practices. There are so many changes the hospitality industry can make in order to do less harm to the environment, and invite new customers in without losing the old.


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