A new type of traveller that has emerged in recent years and that’s the environmentally-conscious holidaymaker who chooses accommodations based on sustainability features like energy-saving rooms, recycling initiatives and zero-waste policies.
In Booking.com’s recent sustainability report, 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. Almost half still believe that in 2021, there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available, with 53% admitting they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example by not providing recycling facilities.
Even here in Singapore, local consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability with a strong motivation to support organisations that positively impact the environment. A 2021 study by Accenture and the World Wide Fund for Nature shared that four out of five consumers say they care about the environment. A third of consumers also added that they would make most purchasing decisions based on product sustainability and environmental impact.
A more recent phenomenon is the rise of the “woke” business traveller where sustainability has become one of the prerequisites for MNCs when selecting corporate travel accommodations. According to Cinn Tan, chief sales and marketing officer of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, this trend may have been spurred by the growing prominence of sustainability talks, which most recently surfaced at the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference last year.
Closer to home, the Singapore government has targeted to halve emissions by 2050, as outlined in the Singapore Green Plan 2030. “We see this influencing the demands of corporate clientele as well, who have come to expect a higher standard of environmental consideration in our meeting and business products,” she says.
Under the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, the rebranded Parkroyal Collection of lifestyle hotels are pioneers in their sustainability efforts with several awards under their belt. For example, nine-year-old Parkroyal Collection Pickering — Singapore’s first “hotel-in-a-garden” with 15,000sqm of lush tropical urban high-rise gardens fed by auto-irrigation and auto-fertigation systems — was certified by BCA Green Mark Platinum and the recipient of World’s Leading Green City Hotel by World Travel Awards for four years running from 2018-2021. It is also a seven-time winner for being Asia’s Leading Green Hotel from 2015-to 2021 in the World Travel Awards.
In Dec 2020, Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay opened (taking over Marina Mandarin), featuring the conserved neo-futuristic architecture of John Portman circa 1985 and more than 2,400 shrubs and trees within the hotel. It earned the highest accolade: Five-star Best Hotel Interior at the International Property Awards 2021 for its transformational design strongly anchored in sustainability. In addition, it has also clinched the Silver Award for Reducing Plastic Waste in the Environment category by WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards 2021, Best Hotel Interior in Singapore by International Property Awards 2021, winner of Hospitality Category 2021 at Shaw Contract Design Awards and Best Hotel Interior Design by PropertyGuru’s Asia Property Awards Singapore 2021.
“Under our Parkroyal Collection brand, we are leading the sustainability agenda with hospitality products that demonstrate our leadership in sustainable hospitality. It’s not just about the soft side of sustainability and “green-washing” — we are building hotels based on the bedrock of sustainability.”
In this interview with Options, Tan lists the group’s green initiatives and plans to grow its presence globally.
What are some key sustainability features of Parkroyal Collection?
Both our Parkroyal Collection properties are built with a biophilic design to incorporate as much foliage inside and outside the premises which act as natural air purifiers by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.
The hotel’s green design incorporates solar panels and motion sensors that help to conserve a combined annual total of 151,666 kWh. Parkroyal Collection Pickering’s rainwater harvesting tanks — from which collected rainwater is used to irrigate the lower gardens — save an average of 6 million litres of water a year, equivalent to 2.4 times the volume of an Olympic swimming pool. At Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, double-glazed glass throughout the property and low emissivity glass in the skylight reduce ambient temperature by 2°C.
We have also eliminated single-use plastics in our F&B and meetings, using biodegradable packaging instead, even for takeaways. We also installed premium filtered water dispensers in each guest room and stocked each room with glass water bottles helping to conserve up to 360,000 plastic bottles per hotel, per year. We are also rolling out amenity pump bottles for guests, using biodegradable, paraben-free and cruelty-free materials and ingredients for the premium touch of sustainability.
We also try to recycle as much as possible by placing 950 recycling bins across both properties to encourage guests and staff members to recycle. Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay partners with Nespresso to collect used coffee capsules for processing into compost for the hotel’s Urban Farm. We also have food waste digesters at Parkroyal Collection Pickering that convert food waste into greywater which is responsibly discharged into sewage in- stead of landfill.
The F&B outlets offer farm-to-table menus and sustainable options. Peppermint at Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay works with sustainable suppliers like UCC, a Rainforest Development Alliance-certified supplier, to provide coffee beans to Portman’s Bar. At Pickering’s Lime Restaurant, you can savour a plant-based menu with signature dishes such as Beyond Burger, Fishless Fish and Chips, and Meatless Japanese Gyoza. Lime restaurant also partnered with Just Egg to create Miso Meatless Meat Bolognese with Vegan Egg. The plant-based product uses 98% less water and emits 93% less carbon dioxide.
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How do you cater to the corporate customer now?
We believe that sustainability efforts meet the growing demand and expectations of hospitality, and at the same time, help us to build trust and recognition among our current and potential guests. This is why we crafted a dedicated sustainability meetings package. Designed with the environment in mind, “Meet Lite, Feels Right” is our eco-centric meeting alternative, including sustainable refreshments, a farm-to-table working lunch and more eco-friendly practices such as eliminating single-use plastics and serving filtered water in water carafes and introducing stationery “stations”.
More companies are also cutting down on unnecessary travel, or may not be able to fly during this time. For this segment, we rolled out our hybrid meeting solutions under “EzyMeet”, offering them a great alternative for mixed offline and virtual meetings if they cannot travel.
What are your plans for expansion?
As a global hospitality company, it is vital for us to strengthen our pipeline and continue our push for sustainable hospitality, cutting-edge design and wellness in our modern world - reinforced with new technology that can meet the demands of our guests. As life slowly approaches the new normal, we remain focused on expanding our portfolio in prime locations around the world.
Across the pond, the group will open Parkroyal Collection Kuala Lumpur this June boasting a similar iconic design and biophilic architecture featuring 13,000 sq ft of plants and trees and 78 sky planters forming a distinctive lush landscaped façade. Parkroyal Langkawi Resort is also slated to open this Sept.
Pan Pacific Orchard will also open in 1Q2023 to be the next icon on Orchard Road with its distinctive architecture. It will strive to be a low-waste property, with four levels of self-sustaining sky gardens with foliage covering more than 300% of the hotel’s land area, a food waste management system, and more.
How is business looking this year?
We foresee domestic staycations to continue in demand and events to be the larger focus for this year. Pan Pacific Hotels Group is already seeing a beneficial spillover of demand from events including the Singapore Airshow 2022 and the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix.
With the recent announcement of easing restrictions for MICE events, we anticipate a revival of larger events in the near future.We are receiving enquiries from international event organisers and corporate clients, who are interested in hosting meals and smaller meetings at our properties.
F&B continues to be an important pillar for our Singapore properties, and we will continue to promote innovative cuisine and signature dishes within the Pan Pacific Dining Collection.
Photo of Parkroyal Collection Pickering courtesy of Sebastien Nagy