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Luxury brand brings green ethos to its portfolio of hotels in Asia Pacific

Fairmont offers eco-luxury in Asia

As Fairmont Hotels & Resorts continues its expansion in Asia with recent hotel openings from Shanghai to Beijing – and hotels like Fairmont Makati, Philippines, Fairmont Nanjing and Fairmont Taiyuan opening in the coming years – the brand is also busy introducing its awarding-winning Green Partnership Program to hotels and resorts in the region. An environmental leader in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, Fairmont is committed to bringing its green expertise to Asia by implementing diverse programs ranging from onsite beekeeping to back of house initiatives focused on waste management and water conservation.

In the late 19th century, the company was founded on an enduring connection to the land and communities where it operated. Remaining true to this principal, the hotel group proactively launched its industry-leading Green Partnership Program in the early 1990s as a comprehensive approach to reducing the environmental impact of its hotels and resorts. The program, recently introduced at its hotels in Asia including Fairmont Singapore, Fairmont Beijing, Fairmont Yangcheng Lake and Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, is tailored to fit the needs of each hotel, and each community. Recycling bins, optional sheet and towel replacement and energy-efficient lighting are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shrinking a hotel’s environmental footprint.

Restaurant operations and procurement are critical components of the Green Partnership Program, and Fairmont chefs have gone above and beyond to create menus sourced with healthy, sustainable, and delicious food. Worldwide, the company’s sustainable seafood program has taken root at all the hotels and excludes dishes such as Chilean Sea Bass and Bluefin Tuna. Many Fairmont properties also have onsite or partner herb and vegetable gardens to provide fresh produce for their bars and restaurants.  Fairmont Singapore’s distinctive herb garden, located five floors above the Singapore skyline, is overseen by Executive Sous Chef Nathan Brown, who tends a selection of herbs including laksa leaves, yellow chilli, curry leaves, pandan leaves, lemongrass, coriander and mint. To avoid pesticides, the hotel uses an innovative composting system that provides natural fertilization, relying on the abundant waste produced by garden worms.

In order to offer local and sustainable produce for its restaurants, Fairmont Yangcheng Lake has developed 200 acres as a private herb and vegetable garden along the resort’s namesake lake.  The resort has also installed beehives that produce fresh honey for the chefs. In spring, the resident bees can produce around 40 kg of honey each day, which allows chefs to offer guests a natural taste for desserts and entrees throughout the resort. In Shanghai, Fairmont Peace Hotel grows purple and Italian sweet basil, Siso leaves, peppermint, lemon mint, rosemary and thyme for use in hotel restaurants. Fairmont Beijing also supports a local group that helps intellectually challenged youth achieve employment. The charitable organization is working with local, organic farms and Fairmont Beijing to develop a training structure for these youth to build the necessary skills to help harvest the farms which supply fruits and vegetables to the hotel.

Part of Fairmont’s green philosophy is that the hotel, guests and community can all work together to promote unique and low impact options for exploring destinations around the world. Bringing this philosophy to life is Fairmont Beijing, which has partnered with the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center on a new heritage bike tour of Beijing’s famed and endangered hutongs, which are part of historic Old Beijing. It is part of Fairmont’s brand-wide green travel programming, which offers eco-friendly packages for guests around the world. As part of the initiative, Fairmont Yangcheng Lake offers a tour of the hotel’s on-site YueFeng Island Organic Farm and bird watching. For each Greening at Peace package booked at Fairmont Peace Hotel, the hotel will donate sapling trees to Inner Mongolia along with ten years of ongoing maintenance to ensure their survival.

Many of Fairmont’s environmental initiatives are behind the scenes projects that many guests might not notice. At Fairmont Beijing, double glazed windows that reduce heat penetration and the use of phosphate-free laundry detergent are just a few examples. Fairmont Beijing and sister property Fairmont Peace Hotel both have a special system in all guestrooms to help control energy with tasks such as the automatic shut off of lights when a guest has been gone for more than 20 minutes.

Fairmont Singapore manages waste in many different ways as well, including donating items such as partially used pencils and writing paper to schools. Kitchen grease is sold to a vendor that recycles it into soaps and detergent products, and 20,000 kg of recyclable materials are collected at the hotel complex each month.  One of the larger projects the hotel has spearheaded is the Bio-Helper technology that has been installed throughout the hotel.  This system uses micro-organisms to decompose food waste and turn it into liquid form, thus reducing transportation needs and streamlining the disposal process.

Across the world, Fairmont hotels have adopted a number of programs that protect the environment.  In 2010, Fairmont went so far as to  commit its entire global portfolio to becoming members of the Green Key Eco-Rating Program – the first of its kind to rank, certify and inspect hotels based on their commitment to sustainable operations. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts was also the first luxury hotel group to address climate change by pledging to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Working alongside the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s largest conservation organization, and its Climate Savers program, Fairmont pledged to reduce operational CO2 emissions from its existing portfolio, while also ensuring that new properties strive to reduce their carbon output through the implementation of a new Energy and Carbon Management program. As a testament to the brand’s environmental leadership, Fairmont has published an acclaimed Green Partnership Guide, a comprehensive how-to text for companies looking to “green” their operations.

In addition to the four hotels Fairmont already operates in Asia, the brand is also planning to open a number of new hotels in the coming years, with all planning to make environmental stewardship a top priority. These include Fairmont Makati, Philippines (2012), Fairmont Nanjing, China (2012), Fairmont Jakarta (2014), and Fairmont Taiyuan (2014).

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.