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BRUSSELS—Radisson Blu announced its new partnership with the Soap for Hope program, which recycles used hotel soaps to create fresh bars for distribution in local communities with limited access to hygiene and sanitation. The Soap for Hope program works in partnership with Sealed Air, a leader in food safety and security, facility hygiene and product protection. Soap for Hope was pioneered by Sealed Air to save lives by giving free soap to communities with limited access to soap, to create local entrepreneurs and to help hotels reduce waste through recycling. Capitalizing on the success of projects in Georgia and in the Philippines, 23 Radisson Blu hotels across Africa, Indian Ocean, Middle East and APAC will collect used soap bars and pass them to Sealed Air representatives. Local entrepreneurs are then shown how to recycle the soap using an innovative cold-press method, which takes less than 10 minutes to complete and requires no running water or electricity. The used soap is then distributed to local communities.
ANSAN CITY, KOREA—The International Ecotourism Society announced that its 12th Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) will be held in Ansan City, Korea, from September 12 to 15, 2017. Widely considered to be the most important conference in ecotourism, ESTC 2017 will bring together 600 professionals and organizations from over 50 countries to share knowledge and best practices, as well as create ecotourism policy for the world.
BETHESDA, MD.—From the panhandle of sunny Florida on the east coast of the United States, to Berlin, Germany, five properties of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company house honeybees as extensions of their Community Footprints programs and continued commitment to environmental sustainability efforts. The first hotel of The Ritz-Carlton portfolio to act on the growing environmental concern over the honeybee shortage was The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte in North Carolina. The LEED certified luxury hotel welcomed beehives on their rooftop in early 2010. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte now produces 60 to 100 pounds of honey each season, and in turn has used the honey throughout the restaurants in the hotel, as well as in the spa. Tours are available every Saturday for guests looking to deepen their understanding about the hives and support the ecosystem surrounding the hotel. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota responded to the national honeybee shortage by welcoming honeybees to the golf resort and went as far as to send their Director of Golf Grounds, Sean O’Brien, to become a certified beekeeper.
AMSTERDAM—GRI launched the world’s first global standards for sustainability reporting, giving companies a common language for disclosing non-financial information. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards will enable companies around the world to be more transparent about their impacts on the economy, the environment and society. They will also help organizations make better decisions and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The GRI Standards are the latest evolution of GRI’s reporting disclosures, which have been developed through more than 15 years of a robust multi-stakeholder process. The Standards are based on the GRI G4 Guidelines, the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting disclosures, and feature an improved format and new modular structure. The new GRI Standards definitively replace the G4 Guidelines, which will be phased out by July 1, 2018. “The GRI Standards make it much easier for companies to report non-financial information, using a well-understood shared language,” said GRI Interim Chief Executive Eric Hespenheide. “The Standards are more straightforward, making them accessible to potentially millions of businesses worldwide.”
RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF.—Enveloped within the Santa Rosa Mountain range with striking panoramic views of the greater Palm Springs, The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage boasts some of the best night sky viewing in the continental United States. To take advantage of the desert’s canopy of stars, The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage hosts complimentary stargazing sessions every Saturday evening with the luxury resort’s recreation ambassador.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL.—During the American Architectural Manufacturers Assn. (AAMA) 2016 National Fall Conference, the AAMA Sustainability Steering Committee hosted two speakers who stressed the importance of wellness in buildings the industry assists in creating and renovating. Lauren Wallace (Epsten Group) focused on the WELL Building Standard and the Living Building Challenge, followed by Dr. Elliott Horner (UL), who gave those in attendance information on indoor air quality testing and its merits. “When we think of sustainability, we often think of environmental impact,” said Mark Silverberg (Technoform), chair of the AAMA Sustainability Steering Committee. “But 92 percent of costs are employee-related, instead of maintenance and operation. We can help reduce depression, a leading cost of lost time. Glass and glazing have a major opportunity of making this net positive contribution.” Wallace went over the WELL Building Standard, the first standard to focus solely on the health and wellness of the people in the buildings. “We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and we have potential to reshape public health and make a positive impact on wellbeing,” said Wallace.
BETHESDA, MD.—Marriott International announced plans to debut Element Hotels, the stylish eco-incubator brand in Egypt in early 2019. Located in Cairo’s upscale Heliopolis district and slated to be the largest Element Hotel in the Middle East and Africa, Element Cairo is being developed by Abraj Misr Urban Development and is owned by Middle East Real Estate for Development (MERED), an Egyptian limited liability company. Element Cairo will be part of The Gate Project, the new iconic eco-friendly development, featuring the largest housing, administrative, commercial facility in Egypt and the Middle East. The hotel will feature 344 light-filled rooms and an atmosphere designed to fuel a life in balance and on the move. “Egypt is one of our key markets and we are excited to introduce a new brand to the capital’s city center,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Element Cairo will be a highly-anticipated addition to our rapidly growing portfolio presenting travelers an appealing, new option for short and long stays in this market.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge webinar series has begun and will run through April. The most recent webinar, earlier this month, was entitled, “Shout it from the Mountaintops!: Working with your communications team to tell your energy efficiency success story.” Additional upcoming webinars will touch on topics ranging from sub-metering to financing.
KIGALI, RWANDA—Marriott International officially opened the doors of its first Marriott Hotel in Rwanda. “Rwanda is going through an economic transformation and we are proud to be a part of it,” said Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson, who attended the Kigali Marriott’s opening ceremony with political dignitaries and executives including Alex Kyriakidis, Marriott’s President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa region. “Coupled with that transformation is a mutual promise for opportunity—both for Marriott as a hospitality company and for the associates and partners who will help us succeed in this market.” Highlighting the importance of hospitality’s role in Rwanda, the World Travel & Tourism Council says Rwanda’s travel and tourism industry generated 7.1 percent of the country’s GDP in 2015 and predicts it to rise at 4.1 percent annually through 2025. Known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is becoming a popular destination for meetings and tourism. The 254-room Marriott in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, is creating approximately 500 jobs and will be among the country’s biggest and most luxurious properties.
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—1 Hotels, the mission-driven luxury lifestyle hotel brand announced that the newest addition to its portfolio, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, is set to make its debut in February 2017. Located at Pier 1, just south of the iconic bridge in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and minutes from downtown Manhattan, the 10-story sustainable ground-up development is designed by New York-based architecture studio Incorporated and will feature 194 guestrooms with sliding floor-to-ceiling windows—many offering views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline—including 29 two to six bedroom suites and The Riverhouse, its Presidential Suite. Guests of the hotel will enjoy a nine-treatment room Bamford Spa, a state of the art signature Field House fitness center, a yoga and barre studio operated by POE Yoga, and a 50-seat screening room. All aspects of the hotel’s design and construction will be carefully chosen to reflect 1 Hotel’s commitment to environmentally responsible hospitality. “The 1 Hotels brand aims to show sophisticated travelers they can live well, do good, and connect with the world around them,” said 1 Hotels founder and SH Group CEO Barry Sternlicht.