Hotels pitch ‘Going Green’ for two reasons.
- It appeals to an upscale demographic. Guests like the narrative they can tell themselves that their travel is also good for the environment. Environmentally-friendly travel earns a revenue premium from a subset of customers.
- It saves money. Not washing towels and changing sheets is a money saver, and reducing the time it takes to clean a room reduces housekeeping staffing costs.
That’s all well and good and I don’t mind one bit when Starwood offers points in exchange for ‘making a green choice’ to reduce hotel housekeeping expenses by letting them skip over your room for the night. At least there the hotel is compensating you a portion of the savings, and we can all happily go forward with this fiction that we’re doing something good for the world.
Make no mistake, it’s a fiction — seemingly even at the most eco-friendly of resorts.
On the Westin St. John’s website they say that “conservation is a top priority” and “[e]ven small actions can make a huge difference.”
Credit: Westin St. John
The Westin St. John is closed for renovations after Hurricane Irma. So when guests aren’t there looking, what’s happening? The hotel has been public advocating for green policies, against burning and in favor of composting and mulching.
However I’ve learned on good authority that the hotel has been disposing of their green and brown debris in landfills. In fact the hotel’s General Manager has offered his resignation from the board of the Island Green Living Association as a result, and places blame on ‘contractors’.
Credit: Westin St. John
The hotel doesn’t deny they’ve been hauling debris off to landfills, or that the General Manager has resigned from his position with the Island’s Green Living Association as a result. Instead they offer,
The Westin St. John has a long history of being good stewards of the environment such as composting more than 20 tons of kitchen trash in a program with Gift Hill School, operating their own waste water treatment plant to use the reclaimed water for landscape irrigation, recycling of metals, batteries, oils and other materials, changing all lights on property to LED, along with numerous other efforts and will continue to do everything possible to meet its high standards of respecting the environment. Given the amount of debris that the islands are facing as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the resort continues to chip and use the green and brown waste first as mulch on the resort property, with the understandable excess going to the landfill on St. Thomas. Our understanding is that in addition to condensing the debris mass, it will also provide the landfill with organic fill and cover. The general manager hopes to rejoin the IGL board once his resort returns to operations.
It’s what you do when you think nobody’s looking that’s most revealing.