India: Hospitality Industry Going Green to Connect Better with Consumers

In the Kamal Haasan starrer Pushpaka Vimana (1987), the story unfolded in the suites, balconies and gardens of a five star hotel. The idea was to pit a few ordinary mundane lives against excessive luxury. The idea of luxury then was limited to carpeted rooms, fluffy beds, marble floors and blinding chandeliers. Over the years however the idea of luxurious hospitality has undergone a lot of change.

The hospitality industry may not be the most environmentally conscientious one but significantly, some brands are trying to reinvent themselves to connect better with a new breed of consumers who want to enjoy luxury responsibly.

The trend of green hotels is mushrooming all over the world, heritage buildings are being preserved to serve new functions and some new buildings try and pay tribute to the culture and ethos of the geography and history that surrounds them.

ITC’s Royal Gardenia in Bangalore attempts to do just that and was accorded  the highest rating for green buildings in the world — the LEED India Platinum Rating. The first glimpse of the hotel reveals its intention to take the greener path. There are four living green vertical walls in the welcoming interiors inspired by French botanist Patrick Blanc.

They break up the monotony of the enclosed stuffiness that is associated with hotel lobbies. These soil free, gravity mocking steel backed gardens shoot up to the 12th floor and celebrate over 1,500 plants which in turn are drip irrigated.

There is a lotus pavillion with a water body and a marked absence of energy gobbling light fixtures or an excess of layering that involves wall-to-wall carpeting, thrumming air conditioning and thick, impervious walls that shut out fresh air and sunlight.

The green roof is another example of cutting down cooling costs. This is arguably the largest platinum rated hotel with its green sensibility spanning over 6,00,000 sq ft. Reducing the carbon footprint in a structure of this scale must have been a challenge but building green and observing sustainable green practices are two different things.

The hotel, however, uses 100 per cent renewable energy and has a plant that recycles waste water to use for gardening. Food wastage is a big issue in hotels and here measures are taken to control that by individualizing portions.

What the hotel does however most convincingly is weave uncompromised aesthetics with green intelligence where nature and architecture are seamless and complete each other and embrace Bangalore’s love for gardens.

Its architect Rajinder Kumar is known to build hotels that take distinctive elements from a city’s culture and showcase them with a modern twist. One way to not waste what exists is to not discard local traditions completely in an attempt to be global. The glass facade of the hotel is modern but the leafy pavillion is inspired by Tipu Sultan and multiple floors are bathed in natural light for most part.

A remote wind farm in Bellari has been built to obtain the renewable electricity, LED and CFL lights animate the interior and energy efficient fixtures provide external lighting, greywater and blackwater are kept separate and treated on site, flushes use recycled water as well, taps and showers use less water than usual. Composting and sold waste segregation is also taken care of.

The interiors were designed by Francesca Basu with the abundance of life forms and various elements in nature as her inspiration so the motifs of earth, foliage, water, fire, sky, animals, flowers, birds and butterflies abound.

Inside the rooms, dividers are made of bamboo trunks and natural fabrics are used for furnishings.

Small touches like a curtailed use of stationery go a long way in making a positive gesture towards environment. The fact that the hotel is a breath away from the city’s lung space Cubbon Park is hugely symbolic.

Consumerism is an inevitable aspect of our life. We buy, we consume, we waste but more and more brands are slowly but surely realising the importance of earning more than just paper equity. They are realising that they need to invest in more than just profit. Even if going green is another way to attract a consumer, it still is a positive step towards a more responsible way of doing business.

Source: The New Indian Express  

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