Centara Hotels & Resorts, as Thailand’s largest operator of hotels, believes it has a strong responsibility towards the environment, and is operating a 90 million baht programme to ensure that its luxury hotels are also green hotels.
The programme has to date resulted in more than 40 citations and has also proved that significant savings can be made in operational costs.
“We approach conservation in a very serious way, giving equal weight to our programme that we apply to all other aspects of our business,” says Thirayuth Chirathivat, senior vice president for project management at Centara Hotels & Resorts.
“Our commitment is total, in that it operates throughout the organisation. We also involve our guests, and we find the response from them is very positive, as they appreciate what we are doing.
“Our properties are all four- and five-star luxury hotels, but we believe that luxury does not mean waste and environmental damage. We believe that we can be green hotels and resorts.
"We also invite our guests to participate in this programme, for example by reducing the changing of towel and bed sheets, and making donations for environmental NGOs.
“This needs investment, and it needs great effort and cooperation from management, staff and guests, for investment without cooperation is nothing.”
An energy saving committee operating at corporate level ensures that properties throughout the group control, monitor and evaluate energy usage, and that technologies are installed to reduce energy use and protect the environment.
Waste water is treated and used within the hotel for functions such as air-conditioning and for watering the grounds, while solid wet waste is processed for bio-gas and organic fertiliser and waste paper and fabrics are recycled. Regular programmes are held for staff to encourage individual initiatives and to promote knowledge, while guests are given every opportunity to take part in various activities.
“Centara Hotels & Resorts began its environmental programme in 1995, and it operates under a 90 million baht budget," says Peera Kum-iam, Centara Hotels and Resorts’ chief engineer.
"The process starts with the building of each property, using energy saving equipment and installing the supporting technologies. Although the initial cost may be a substantial one, it is regarded as being an investment for long-term benefits in terms of guest relations, for the local community, and for the environment in general.
“There is also a practical side, because when maintenance and energy costs are factored in, the investment is recouped within an average of three years
“For example, the production of bio-gas from wet garbage can save 250,000 baht per year, and the use of solar hybrid technology can save five million baht per year on our energy bills.”
Centara Hotels & Resorts has gained more than 40 awards and certificates for conservation since its programme began.
Awards and certificates include:
– Green Leaf Certificate (5 leaves, the top level) since 2000, held by TAT
– Thailand Tourism Award for 10 consecutive years, held by TAT
– Earth Check (Silver), held by Pacific Asia Travel Association
– ASEAN Green Hotel
– Thai Green Hotel, held by Department of Environmental Quality Promotion
– The Green Leaf Smoke Free Hotel Certificate, held by Green Leaf Foundation
– Hotel 5-star Standard Certificat, held by TAT
– Green Accommodations – Gold Class Awards, held by Department of Environmental Quality Promotion