By LAUREN MCNALLY
Gone are the days when a stiff mai tai and sunny patch of sand were all visitors needed to enjoy their Hawaiian vacation. Today’s travelers are after authentic experiences aligned with their values and those of the local culture. Travel isn’t a particularly green activity in and of itself, so if people are going to make the trip, they want to be as sustainable as possible doing it.
“From the perspective of the visitor, green signifies a higher standard of quality,” says Joanna Griffith, president of the U.S. Green Building Council Hawai‘i Chapter. “You feel better knowing that the space you’re staying in is going to be using less resources and that you’re having an overall smaller ecological impact.”
Hotels are catching the drift—some have long since taken the lead in drastically minimizing their environmental impact. Through initiatives in renewable energy, waste reduction, energy efficiency, recycling, water conservation, local sourcing and community outreach, these Hawai‘i hotels are walking the walk when it comes to serving up a slice of paradise.
HYATT REGENCY MAUI RESORT & SPA
Situated on 40 oceanfront acres along a three-mile stretch of Maui’s pristine Ka’anapali Beach, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa is a leader in sustainability as Hawai‘i’s first LEED-EBOM Silver resort. The hotel recently received the international Hyatt Thrive Leadership Award for its Excellence in Environmental Sustainability at the Hyatt 2016 Awards Week.
The resort has also been recognized for its sustainability initiatives with the Hawaii Green Business Program Award, the Best Eco/Green Hotel Smart Stars Award by Successful Meetings and the Resort Energy Ventures Sustainability Award.
Hyatt Regency Maui’s other sustainable initiatives include landscaping with native and adaptive plants and equipping all 806 guest rooms with recycling receptacles, reduced-flow showerheads and motion-sensing air conditioning units that shut off when not in use. Hyatt Regency Maui also reduces paper waste by utilizing digital signage and providing guests with complimentary digital newspapers accessible via computers and mobile devices.
Hyatt Regency Maui is home one of the largest photovoltaic solar panel systems in Hawai‘i and has appointed a dedicated Green Team to spearhead and manage the resort’s sustainability initiatives. Led by Gary Bulson, senior director of engineering, the Green Team consists of employees from each department who meet regularly to discuss and advance sustainability initiatives at the property, including reviewing LEED-EBOM criteria to keep the hotel on track for advancing its certification level and organizing beach cleanups, recycling drives and restoration trips to nearby Honokōwai Valley.
GRAND HYATT KAUA‘I RESORT & SPA
In its most recent initiative, Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i partnered with the College of Tropical Agriculture at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to convert one of the hotel’s tennis courts into a 4,000-square-foot hydroponic garden. The hotel harvested its first crop in early 2015 and now grows seven types of lettuce, employing a full-time gardener and sourcing more than 350 pounds of produce every week for its dining services and catered events. Tours of the farm are offered weekly for guests interested in learning about the hydroponic growing process and sustainable food production.
Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i is also home to the state’s first photovoltaic-covered carport and Level 3 electric vehicle charging station. Other energy-efficiency measures include using recaptured heat from the hotel’s air conditioning system to heat the hotel swimming pools, installing sink aerators and low-flow showerheads and toilets in the guestrooms and replacing more than 15,000 fluorescent bulbs with LED lights for a 70 percent increase in lighting efficiency. The exhaust fans in the kitchens and the pumps for the water features are controlled electronically on timers while the resort’s nearly 60,000 square feet of green roofs further reduce cooling needs and energy use.
The resort began a comprehensive recycling program in 1995 and diverts approximately 15 tons of recyclables and 12 tons of green waste from the landfill each month. Waste cooking oil is processed into biodiesel and food scraps are donated to a local pig farmer for feed. To further reduce waste, the hotel uses biodegradable takeout containers and cloth napkins and china in lieu of disposable paper products. Hotel guests can reduce their carbon footprint by opting out of laundering their linens and towels daily, saving energy and roughly 500,000 gallons of water per year. They can also refill their water bottles with filtered water at dispensers located throughout the resort.
MAUNA LANI BAY HOTEL & BUNGALOWS
Preserving Hawai‘i’s resources, environment and culture is an important part of the resort experience at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows. The sprawling 30-acre resort on Hawai‘i’s Kohala Coast produces the most solar power of any luxury resort in the world and is the only U.S. property to be honored by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the world’s top eco-friendly luxury beach destinations.
Since launching its green sea turtle program in 1989, Mauni Lani has received more than 220 juvenile honu from Sea Life Park on O‘ahu and raised them in the resort’s saltwater ponds. The honu are later released into the wild during the resort’s annual Fourth of July celebration honoring and educating the public about the Hawaiian honu.
AQUA KAUAI BEACH RESORT
Kaua‘i Beach Resort has spent the last few years greening its facilities inside and out, including adopting energy-efficient equipment and installing 2,400 solar panels on its guest parking lot. The resort’s powerful 592-kilowatt system is the third-largest privately owned PV system on the island and reduces energy consumption by 20 percent year over year.
The resort received a Green Business Award in 2014 for its efforts in energy efficiency and launched a recycling program in 2013 that benefits local nonprofits through the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association’s annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk. Kaua‘i Beach Resort also converted its four swimming pools from chlorine to saline and reduces water consumption by utilizing UV lighting rather than backwashing to maintain water quality in its fish ponds.
Recognized back in 2005 by the Hawai‘i Department of Energy for leading the industry in green initiatives and by Hawaiian Electric Company in 2006 for its efforts in energy efficiency, Sheraton Waikiki is leading the charge for sustainable hospitality in Hawai‘i. A Starwood Hotels and Resorts property, Sheraton Waikiki continues to educate its more than 1,500-person staff about the importance of energy efficiency and adopt measures toward Starwood’s landmark initiative to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy use and a 20 percent reduction in water consumption by 2020.
To support Hawai‘i’s farmers and champion sustainable agriculture, Sheraton Waikiki also revamped its food and beverage program to emphasize locally sourced ingredients.
Inspired by the multiethnic communities that made up Hawai‘i’s plantation workforce, the resort’s farm-to-table Kai Market recreates time-tested dishes using ingredients sourced from a living, in-house wall of herbs.
OUTRIGGER HOTELS & RESORTS
Sustainability is nothing new at Outrigger. For more than 25 years, the company has implemented programs to ease demand on our environment and landfills.
Outrigger launched a comprehensive recycling program at all of its properties in 1990 and requires all food concessions to recycle their food waste and cooking oils.
As part of World Oceans Month 2015, Outrigger partnered with several government, private industry and conservation organizations to launch the global conservation initiative OZONE (Outrigger’s ZONE).
With more than 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs under immediate threat from climate change, overfishing and land-based pollution, OZONE is Outrigger’s action plan to protect the coral reefs and waters fronting Outrigger’s beachside resorts around the world. Aside from the program’s positive impact on our coral reefs, OZONE generates awareness and enhances guests’ experience through interaction and learning, from in-room videos and on-property lectures to physical coral planting.