How six of Spain's top hospitality companies keep their operations more sustainable
Since 1973, the United Nations has recognized June 5 as World Environment
an annual event that it says "puts a global spotlight on the pressing environmental challenges of our times". This seems like the perfect
time to highlight a few hospitality businesses and their sustainability initiatives.
In the hospitality industry, embracing more sustainable practices is more than a moral imperative; it makes good business sense. That's because sustainable tourism has become a top priority for a large number of travelers. (This is especially true of millennials and members of Generation Z.). For some in the hotel industry, implementing more sustainable practices might mean taking small steps — they could replace plastic straws with reusable glass or metal ones, for example — or it might mean making major changes to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and eliminate food waste.
According to a 2022 Sustainable Travel Report from booking.com, 73% of travelers say they would be more likely to choose an accommodation that has implemented sustainable practices — and 81% intend to stay in an environmentally friendly location at least once in the next year.
If this is you, read on to learn more about how these 6 hotel chains lead the way in conscious and meaningful sustainability.
Barceló Hotel GroupBarceló Hotel Group is Spain's second-largest hotel chain, with more than 250 four- and five-star urban and holiday hotels, and more than 55,000 rooms across 22 countries. The company's properties are marketed under the brands Royal Hideaway, Barceló, Occidental and Allegro.
It has an active loyalty program - my Barceló.
What they’re doingRecognizing climate change as a global environmental crisis, Barceló Hotel Group has made a commitment to reduce its environmental impact.
At its Occidental hotels in the United Arab Emirates, for example, the company's sustainability practices are implemented through eco-friendly cleaning products, water and energy conservation, and waste reduction.
Occidental Al Jaddaf, for instance, uses solar panels to operate water heaters for energy conservation and features low-flow devices in public bathrooms and showers to reduce water consumption.
Barceló Hotel Group's vice president for sales and marketing for GCC, Raquel López, said in a news release: “We aim to be at the forefront of sustainability within the hospitality industry to ensure that our properties are not only safe for our guests at this current time, but also for the generations of travelers yet to come. The introduction of this comprehensive strategy has allowed us to lay the framework for even more sustainable initiatives in the future.” Iberostar has built its brand image on its dedication to promoting responsible and sustainable travel. The Iberostar Group's offerings range from all-inclusive beachside resorts in Mexico, Jamaica and Brazil to chic urban hotels in cities like New York, Barcelona, Marrakech and Lisbon.
It has closed its own loyalty program - Iberostar Horizons. Almost all properties now participate in the IHG One Rewards program via a marketing alliance.
What they’re doingIberostar's Wave of Change program signals that the international hotel chain is committed to moving towards a circular economy, promoting the responsible consumption of seafood and improving the health of coastal environments.
In addition to phasing out single-use plastic items in 1999 — eliminating the use of over 420 tonnes of plastics annually — the company has committed to making its operations waste-free by 2025 and carbon neutral by 2030.
Earlier this year, Iberostar reopened its Cristina hotel in Playa de Palma, Mallorca, following an upgrade in its energy supply that has eliminated the use of all fossil fuels in favor of electricity from renewable energy sources. This move makes the hotel greener by reducing its carbon footprint to zero without compromising the guest experience.
Iberostar has also pledged that its seafood consumption will be 100% sustainable by 2025, and it has already hit that target in Mexico. Investment in sustainable fishing supports local communities and helps preserve local ecosystems for future generations.
Iberostar is hoping that, by 2025, Wave of Change will be a major driver for 60% of all hotel-room bookings at its properties.
Meliá Hotels InternationalOne of the 20 largest hotel companies in the world, Meliá Hotels International operates more than 380 properties on four continents.
It has an active loyalty program - Meliá Rewards, for which we have a detailed guide.
What they’re doingMeliá's commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement has led it to identify specific medium-term environmental objectives related to combating climate change.
Driven by innovation and technology, Meliá has developed an efficient management system designed to reduce the use of natural resources and shrink each hotel's carbon footprint.
The company's sustainable strategies include:
- Implementing sustainability criteria throughout the supply chain, beginning with hotel concept and design
Using certified sources of renewable energy, standardizing efficient management systems and implementing systems that reduce water usage
- Reducing or eliminating high-impact waste from the ecosystem
- Measurement and control of consumption through tools, indicators and scientific criteria
- Training employees and raising customer awareness through programs focused on respect for the environment and biodiversity
NH Hotel GroupNH Hotel Group is one of the 25 largest chains in the world and operates 356 hotels across 33 countries in Europe, the Americas, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
It recently migrated its loyalty program to participate in GHA Discovery.
What they’re doingNH Hotel Group has dubbed its environmental management plan UP FOR Planet, which is its roadmap for fulfilling the commitments it has made to combat climate change and progress towards decarbonization, the efficient management and consumption of resources and the development of more sustainable products.
The company has set a number of sustainable development goals, with the aim of achieving the following:
- 64% of energy use by hotel buildings is to come from renewable energy sources
- 15 million single-use plastic amenities (e.g. plastic straws and cups) eliminated each year
- 35% yearly reduction in energy consumption per room nights
- 89% local purchases
Palladium Hotel GroupPalladium Hotel Group is an international hotel chain based in Ibiza, with 48 hotels in six different countries (Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Italy) around the world.
Palladium has its own loyalty program - Palladium Rewards.
What they’re doingPalladium's green practices are focused on the following goals, among others:
- Reducing single-use plastics
- Moving towards digitalization
- Rational, sustainable use of water
- Measuring the company's carbon footprint more accurately
- Reducing energy consumption
- Circular economy initiatives
- Reducing, recycling and reusing waste
- Protecting biodiversity
ParadoresThe state-owned Paradores de Turismo specializes in cultural and nature tourism, with 97 properties throughout Spain's autonomous communities and one in Portugal. In addition to having Paradores in nine cities that have been declared World Heritage Sites, the company also operates accommodations in national parks and other natural areas, often housed in heritage properties such as castles and monasteries.
Paradores has a little known loyalty program - Amigos de Paradores.
What they’re doingParadores has implemented a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate its impact on climate change, with the objective of being net-zero in 2030.
A few milestones on Paradores' sustainability journey to date:
In 2019, the organization announced that it would replace plastic straws, bottles
and cups with compostable alternatives.
Starting in 2020, Paradores has calculated the carbon footprint of all of its properties with an eye toward replacing deficient or highly
CO2-emitting equipment as well as the improvement of automatic control systems for energy consumption.
- Electricity at each of Paradores' properties is generated through the use of renewable resources.
To find out more about sustainability in the hospitality industry, visit the website of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. Members of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance include some of the biggest names in the hotel industry, such as Iberostar, Accor, Hilton and Marriott International.