I just spent a wonderful week in British Columbia with my kids. Generally, I feel a little bit guilty about the waste that comes with hotel stays, but we stayed at luxurious—and sustainably minded — Fairmont hotels in Vancouver. I was impressed with what the chain (and each individual hotel within it) is doing to reduce its impact—and mine.
Fairmont Hotels are both stylish and sustainable. Photo Courtesy Fairmont Hotels.
Way back in 1990, the Canadian Fairmont hotels pioneered a Green Partnership program, a comprehensive commitment to minimizing its hotels’ impact. The program addresses energy and water conservation; waste management; redistribution of household goods and food to those in need; and purchasing from local, sustainable sources. The chain has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a Climate Change Strategy, setting a corporate-wide target of reducing its CO2 emissions to 20 percent below its 2006 levels by 2013. Its commitment has garnered the attention of notable environmental activists such as David Suzuki who stated: “The Green Partnership is a concrete example of how business can involve employees in something everyone can feel good about. It’s good for business, it’s good for morale, and it’s good for the planet.”
We spent a couple days at Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront, where executive chef Patrick Dore and resident beekeeper Graeme Evans tend to a rooftop herb and produce garden and a bee colony, added this year. The bees have increased the garden’s espaliered apple tree’s production from about 20 apples to 200 this year. On August 25, in an event open to the public, the hotel will harvest 300 to 400 pounds of honey from more than 500,000 bees—and, yes, that honey will be put to use in the hotel restaurant’s delicious local, organic cuisine.
Our final-night stay at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, which is literally steps away from the international terminal, made a 7 a.m. flight back to the States tolerable—and I was pleased to see that the hotel’s industrial location hasn’t thwarted its own green initiatives. The hotel’s kitchen team has staked a claim at a nearby community garden, and guests are enjoying the fruits of their labor in its restaurant, Globe@YVR.
These days, most hotels offer eco-options such as eliminating linen changes to save water, but the Fairmont hotels go above and beyond. Conde Nast Traveler calls the Fairmont’s program “the most comprehensive environmental program in the North American hotel industry.” The chain has properties throughout the United States and Canada—so whenever I can, I’m going to minimize my travel footprint by staying at the Fairmont.