Sustainable Hospitality: Perception vs Reality

Now, more than any time in history, wordsmiths are crafting sustainability initiatives adapted for luxury hospitality, tagged to the property or flag(s) they represent. Indeed, they talk the talk as hoteliers are armed with the knowledge that the industry has no option but to address primary environmental issues such as pollution, climate change, biodiversity losses, reimagined use of space, recycling, and waste.

In order to execute change, a circular economy business model (vs the tired traditional lineal economy) reportedly is the most effective approach. The most salient principles required in order to realize a hotel’s transformative objectives towards sustainability are: education, a genuine drive to change, use of eco-friendly development materials, teamed with the regeneration, preservation and conservation of natural resources.


New luxury involves every form of hospitality: lodging, architecture and design, transportation, cuisine, up-thinking (create an in-house sustainability thinktank), production and consumption, sharing, reusing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products. Once your strategy to achieve sustainability is executed, your major challenge is to not only teaching your team and ensure everyone is on board with the overall sustainability efforts of your property.

Equally critical is to EDUCATE FUTURE GUESTS through example, environmental campaigns and information tools


We all know that sustainability is ‘the’ hot topic, however, how can luxury travellers determine if a holiday destination is ‘GREENWASHING’?

Whether intentional or not, established flags sometimes take on a psychological approach by promoting their sustainable initiatives while downplaying their wrongdoings. How can a traveler separate perception from reality?

Psychology is intrinsic to sustainability.

Human behaviour triggered our environmental crisis, and industry leaders must step up to the plate; set genuine examples using subliminal psychological sustainability tactics driving home the message by influencing action. Reality is that change is hospitality’s end game; to responsibly reverse damage by setting the stage for progress. You will make a difference by educating and inspiring guests to create practices resulting in an eco-friendly future.

Related articles:

What makes an eco-hotel or eco-resort truly sustainable by Hector De Castro

Key energy efficiency solutions for SME hotels



Luxury hotelier studies tell us that leaders have grave concerns that costly sustainability initiatives may profoundly impact loss of revenue. Simultaneously, HNW travelers’ sense that due to change, they will have to pay more, yet the value of their stay will be diminished. For example, guests may view efforts to reduce environmental impact as a method for hotels to reduce costs, effectively at the guests’ expense. A bit of a dilemma.

This is new territory for hoteliers. Studies suggest that the mere thought of initiating a paradigm shift in their business model will put their hotel in a fragile financial position.


Many wealthy travelers are reported to be skeptical and confused about the ‘new luxury norm’. Not a day passes when media blasts us all using the same catch phrases and buzzwords about change aimed at improving our eco-systems and ourselves. Given ‘Greenwashing’, it’s no surprise that clarity is clouded.

Once TRUST in your hotel, private club or resort’s ‘new luxury ethos’ is instilled, guest will have confidence in your venue…and, your revenues will incrementally increase. Statistics are readily available.

Cost cutting. Although many green initiatives initially involve additional expense, many measures save money instantly which is the case with linen reuse programs.


Feel good that you are part of the ‘new luxury with a heart’ eco-change movement.

Communicate reality as it relates to your property or portfolio. This can be accomplished in a positive manner, regardless of your limitations, which is valued.

Generate eco-confidence in your hotel…word travels fast amongst peers.

Meet the author:

Pamala Baldwin, VP Communications and Brand for The Caribbean region and Founder at YinYan resorts.

Meet our President

Hector De Castro, President at LUSH and founder and CEO at EcoHotelProjects.

Thanks to our sponsor, EcoHotelProjects, and partners.