Travel is no longer just about seeing the wonders of the earth but understanding our impact upon it. With increasing frequency people are looking to make a shift from ‘tourist’ to ‘conscious traveller’ by finding ways to maximise positive impacts on the locations they visit.
Making choices about how, when, and where you go on holiday can make a significant difference. So, this Earth Day, Expedia analysed its global bank of over eight million traveller reviews from 2018 to find the key hot spots for eco-travellers.
Delving deep into sentiment, the global data showed the 10 best sustainable hotel choices around the world as reviewed by Expedia travellers*. From boutiques with beehives and resorts with rainwater recycling, to grand urban retreats with solar cell power, many of these amazing places show that luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.
Sherwood, a self-described community hotel, situated on three acres of rolling alpine hillside, overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown was one of only two hotels in the Southern Hemisphere to feature.
The 80-room hotel features an award-winning restaurant (one of only two hotel restaurants to be listed in NZ’s top 100), bar and music venue, yoga studio, film production and co-working facilities and is complemented by a large kitchen garden managed under organic principles.
So just how did the unlikely hi-jack of a mid-eighties, mock-Tudor motor-inn by a group of friends result in one of the world’s most sustainable hotels?
Sherwood founder / director Adam Smith states, “We believe kaitiakitanga (the Māori philosophy of environmental guardianship) - and a simple respect for nature, lie at the heart of any sustainable practice. This philosophy has underpinned every choice we’ve made - from the approach taken to the hotel’s refurbishment, to key operational decisions such as where we draw our energy from and how we treat our waste.
“Our natural environment and landscape are the reason the vast majority of people choose to live and travel here so for us it’s just common sense that we operate our business in a way that will protect and enhance it for generations to come.”
This has been overlaid with the business’s parallel value of manaakitanga, showing respect and generosity towards others, which underpins all true hospitality.
Fellow director and co-founder Sam Chapman states, “our business is nothing without people, so operating a business that shows genuine respect for our guests, our community and our staff is fundamental to our ongoing success”.
“Whilst we had never operated a hotel before, we drew on a single human insight from our own personal experience travelling, to inform Sherwood. This being; nobody wants to feel like a tourist when they travel.
“The simplest way to ensure we were offering our guests a truly authentic experience was through building community. By making Sherwood a hub for the local community our guests are able to participate and in doing so, gain a deeper understanding of place and culture through our food, music and educational programming.”
The Sherwood staff have been provided a real boost with the award. “This is a great result for the team who have been instrumental in driving the sustainability programme over the last five years and we are always seeking incremental improvements” says Operations Manager Liane Leesment.
“We’ve always believed that a good idea can come from anyone on the team, and many of the initiatives have come from the housekeepers, receptionists, waiters and chefs solving problems at the front line.”
SHERWOOD’S 10 MOST IMPACTFUL SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES
- They kept the existing building instead of creating a new one and wherever possible avoided creating unnecessary waste through the refurbishment process, instead taking a lifecycle approach to replacing any fixtures and furnishings
- Refurbished the hotel with the lowest impact materials they could find including recycled, upcycled and carbon negative products, examples include wall linings made from carbon negative cork, carpet tiles made from recycled fishing nets, furniture from recycled metal, kitchen and bathroom floor coverings made from recycled car tyres and curtains from upcycled woollen army blankets
- Installed (what was at the time of installation) NZ’s largest private solar array with 248 multi-crystalline panels returning any unused electricity back to the grid and ensuring any additional electricity used comes from 100% renewable sources
- Procure as locally and ethically as possible with 99% of the food they serve sourced from the New Zealand (of which 75% is from the South Island) and over 40% of the green produce is grown in their own kitchen garden under organic principles along with honey collected from their own beehives
- 96% of the beer, wine and spirits served are procured from Australia and New Zealand with 60% of their wine specially produced by local family-owned vineyards for our bottled-in house programme to eliminate any unnecessary carbon from transport and glass waste
- Compost all organic waste and it is returned back into the kitchen garden soil to grow more food
- Eliminated the vast majority of single use plastics from operational supply chain starting with their largest suppliers
- The bar is running zero-waste to landfill with the restaurant close behind and they're trying their best to do the same with the rooms without expecting too much of the guests
- To help guests get around without emissions we’ve installed electric car charging stations powered by the sun and affordable bike hire, encouraging the use of bikes and public transport for guests wherever feasible
- Giving back to the community, spending 100% of marketing budget on community focussed events including educational workshops, live music and wellbeing programmes, sharing learnings and seeking constant improvement
*Top 10 lists compiled from measuring sentiment and volume of reviews from travellers globally on Expedia that mention 'sustainable' or 'eco-friendly'