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LAS VEGAS—MGM Resorts International joined the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge by pledging to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2020, during the National Clean Energy Summit held at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center, sponsored by U.S. Senator Harry Reid, and with closing keynote comments by President Barack Obama. “MGM Resorts is committed to being a leading corporate citizen in all it does,” said Jim Murren, Chairman & CEO of MGM Resorts International. “Climate change and consumption of traditional energy sources are among the most critical issues of our day.” “Innovating our resorts to operate more efficiently while also offering a remarkable guest experience, is a top priority for our company,” said Cindy Ortega, Chief Sustainability Officer of MGM Resorts International. “Joining the American Business Act on Climate Change, as well as our previous pledge to the U.S. Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge, is another step in our promise to guests, employees and our surrounding communities to employ sustainable best practices at all of our resort destinations.”
NEW YORK—The Bodhi Tree Foundation (TBTF) announces the launch of its Power of 10 initiative, an expansion of its S.A.F.E. campaign created to “Safeguard a Future for African Elephants.” With 10 percent of Africa’s elephant population lost each year, the next 10 years will decide the species’ fate. And in Asia, disappearing habitats due to logging and urbanization have driven once wild elephants to the cities or tourist camps where they face a debilitating lifestyle.
LONDON—In the Silver Jubilee year of World Water Week (August 23 to 28), multiple global hotel companies are meeting the challenge “to think innovatively—together—about new development pathways” and are developing a methodology and calculation tool to enable hotel companies and individual properties to measure and report on water consumption in a consistent way. Following the success of the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, now used by over 21,500 hotels around the world, the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) is developing the equivalent tool for water consumption. As World Water Week demonstrates, water scarcity is a recognized global problem, with demand for water projected to exceed supply by 40 percent by 2030. By the same year, more than a third of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress. As part of a rapidly growing tourism sector and a large consumer, the hotel industry has recognised it needs to take action if it is to mitigate risk going forward. In its thematic document for 2015, World Water Week says: “If we are to progress beyond ‘business-as-usual’ that did not fully deliver on the MDGs, we need to think innovatively—together—about new development pathways. Our various communities, too often separated in silos, need to form new alliances, innovative public-private partnerships and social entrepreneurships for an effective and socially accepted development agenda.”
STAMFORD, CONN.—With more than half of its current and future properties in areas facing critical water issues, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. shared its holistic water story detailing the company’s efforts to tackle this important matter. As part of the company’s overall strategy on water issues, including scarcity, flooding, and quality, Starwood has set a system-wide water reduction goal, introduced new technology and dedicated on-property actions, offered conservation-focused guest programs and joined with community partners. “Some say water is the new oil and, as we execute a global growth strategy, water is not only an environmental consideration, but also a potential business risk that impacts guests, properties and the communities where we operate,” said Ken Siegel, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Head of Global Citizenship at Starwood. “Starwood has to look beyond conservation and leverage innovation and partnerships to limit its environmental impact, support and enhance its local economies, and protect people and the planet, all while delivering an unmatched guest experience.”
OAK BROOK, ILL.—The Monarch butterfly population has been in decline, but the Illinois state insect is getting some unlikely help with their migration in the western suburbs of Chicago. At the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, which features a Horticultural Gallery on its 150 acres of Audubon-certified grounds, waystations are attracting Monarchs on their annual trek south. Due to the spirited efforts of hotel staff and horticulturalist Karen Paquin, who has created an official on-site Monarch habitat, the beloved pollinator is dropping by in significant numbers. “It’s encouraging to see so many Monarchs enjoy our beautiful grounds,” said Paquin, who spearheads the sustainable ecology program at Oak Brook Hills, an IACC Green Star/Gold Status hotel. “Our Horticultural Gallery not only educates guests on what’s in balance with our native region, but all these pollinators are helping the property’s ecosystem flourish.” The resort is also home to a successful honeybee program, which includes several on-site hives that house close to a half million more pollinators.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Twenty-five years after its founding, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is still going strong with more than 14,700 members. Earlier this year its annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) in Ecuador drew more than 500 attendees from 46 countries. An ESTC is already being planned for April 25 t 28 in Botswana and for the first time ever there will be an ESTC America—at the University of South Florida in Tampa from January 25 to 27. The Tampa event will be limited to 220 participants. As strong as TIES has been over the years, 2015 is turning into a year of transition. Kelly Bricker, Chair of TIES since 2004, told Green Lodging News that she will be phasing her way out of the organization in the next three years as TIES rebuilds its board. Earlier this year the Advisory Committee of TIES resigned and was replaced with an Education and Research Committee. Former Advisory Committee members are now working to form a Global Ecotourism Network.
PARIS—In celebration of its 10 year commitment to the ISO 14001 certification, the internationally recognized standard for environmental management systems, AccorHotels has led two studies that assess the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on guest satisfaction and hotel performance. The surveys were conducted by Accenture and Ernst & Young (EY) in 2015 and revealed three key findings on the positive impact of CSR: increased guest satisfaction; improved hotel profitability; and increased loyalty of key BtoB customers. “We have been committed to sustainable development for over 20 years and always believed that, as well as being essential to preserve our ecosystem, sustainability initiatives are a competitive advantage for the company,” said AccorHotels Sustainable Development Director Arnaud Herrmann. “That’s why we decided to collect additional empirical evidence to prove this. This positive impact on both hotel business performance and guest satisfaction is a great encouragement to continue our CSR policy, while our PLANET 21 program is nearing completion with promising results.” The survey conducted by Accenture demonstrates a strong link between sustainable development initiatives and guest satisfaction.
WEST CALDWELL, N.J.—MaxLite recently teamed with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in partnership with more than 200 low-income families during Habitat for Humanity’s annual Home Builders Blitz. “MaxLite is proud to support Habitat for Humanity’s home-building efforts and to make quality, energy-efficient lighting accessible for families in need of affordable housing,” said MaxLite CEO Yon Sung.
SPRINGFIELD, MO.—John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts (JQH) and Convoy of Hope announced their new national philanthropic partnership at an event at JQH’s University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield, Mo. Called JQH’s Legacy of Giving, the joint cause initiative will focus on feeding the world’s hungry children and tackling systemic poverty in the United States and globally, which are at the heart of Convoy of Hope’s mission since it was established more than 20 years ago.
DENVER—Showcasing more than a decade of leadership while taking on the challenge of climate change, global hospitality company Xanterra Parks & Resorts has released its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, defining and measuring its innovative sustainability improvements. The report also announces ambitious stretch targets for the next decade. The report presents details of improvements measured against goals announced in 2004. The company tracks its environmental performance across all aspects of its operations using an ISO 14001 audited program launched in 2002. Xanterra entities include lodges, restaurants, tours and activities in national and state parks, as well as resorts, a cruise line, railway and adventure tour companies. The company has experienced rapid growth in recent years, adding Windstar Cruises, Austin Adventures, Country Walkers, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Kingsmill Resort and the Grand Hotel. “As we reflect upon the 10 years of hard work required to meet our initial sustainability goals, we applaud the dedicated—and innovative—employees whose ideas and passion are often behind many of our success stories,” said Catherine Greener, Vice President of Sustainability for the company.
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