As General Manager of the first hotel in the world to be LEED Zero Carbon certified, he tells us what it takes to stay committed to the green cause while staying out of the red.
ITC Hotels, the world’s largest chain of hotels, also has the maximum number of LEED Platinum Certified Properties. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary sustainability and green rating programme under the aegis of USGBC (the US Green Building Council), which is the globally accepted, leading Green Building certification body with extremely stringent norms and certification procedures for buildings. The LEED Zero carbon certification demonstrates a deep commitment to implementing building and design strategies that assure an enhanced quality of life. It includes creating an environment where any human-produced carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere through technological or natural means.
Manas Krishnamoorthy, General Manager, ITC Windsor, Bengaluru, explains what it means for a hospitality business to be committed to responsible luxury and sustainable tourism.
Excerpts from the interview…
What does ‘responsible luxury’ mean to you?
To me, the term “responsible luxury” means enjoying enriched experiences without leaving behind an adverse footprint on the environment at large.
How can hotels be sustainable while balancing operational costs?
Hospitality leaders and hotel businesses are relooking at the way they build businesses to make a meaningful contribution to sustainable tourism. Eco-friendliness has evolved from being a checklist to a top priority for the growing tribe of environmentally and socially conscious travellers. Luxury hospitality is therefore increasingly focussing on fostering practices and experiences that lead to a unique and authentic guest experience while minimising carbon footprint.
At ITC Hotels, we have pioneered several ground-breaking initiatives across the domains of environment, hotel ecosystem, health, and well-being. Our buildings have secured LEED platinum rating as testimony to their green credentials. The innovative net-zero (energy consumption) ITC Windsor Hotel is aligned to India’s vision of significantly cutting emissions.
We are also among the first chains to implement best practices such as the elimination of single-use plastic products, deployment of radiation harmonisers, and provision of farm-to-fork, low carbon-footprint cuisine. The transition to a carbon-neutral organisation is both an urgent challenge and an opportunity to build a better future for all.
Tell us about ITC Hotels’ journey towards responsible luxury.
For over a decade, ITC Hotels has been the byword for sustainability in the hospitality industry. It pioneered the concept of Responsible Luxury – delivering luxury experiences with sustainable practices embedded in the process, and has since then, deployed it in all its Luxury hotels. Responsible Luxury and Sustainability now resonate with the minds and hearts of discerning sections of society across generations. Diners and guests now are mindful and consciously seek out dining destinations and stays which are recognised for their sustainable and responsible practices.
We are responsible to maintain the planet; and therein lies our collective success, and our collective progress. People who are sensitive to it will be more attracted to come and stay with our hotel because anybody who is travelling has a conscience as well. And we’d like to believe that we are collaborating with the collective conscience of travellers, the community as a whole, and our country. And we hope more will follow because sustainability is not restricted to one company or industry.
ITC Windsor has become the first hotel in the world to be LEED Zero Carbon certified. How was this milestone achieved?
As part of being the world’s largest LEED Platinum-certified hotel brand, ITC Windsor was able to voluntarily participate in the LEED Zero programme. Having furnished exemplary methods to minimise dependency on fossil fuels and balancing the same with the implementation of renewable energy and innovative energy conservation methods, ITC Windsor has been recognised as the first hotel in the world to be LEED Zero Carbon certified.
We have been practicing energy-efficient activities for two decades through innovative energy-efficient technologies such as the use of captive wind turbine generators, electrical boilers, and induction burners. The idea is that human-produced carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere either through technological or natural means.
ITC Windsor has several spaces for weddings and other events. Have you had to adapt these in any way to attract customers post-pandemic?
Apart from rigorous health, hygiene and safety protocols being implemented to ensure the safety of guests and associates across all ITC Hotels, the chain has also introduced various pathogen prevention measures by inducting world-class technologies for infection mitigation, redefining service delivery processes. Recently, we became the first hotel chain in the world to receive the Platinum level certification under DNV’s ‘My Care’ infection risk management programme. DNV is one of the world’s leading risk management service provider and certification body, headquartered at Oslo, Norway.
Under our path-breaking WeAssure initiative, we have reimagined every touchpoint and re-engineered guest experiences to ensure minimal contact. Under the initiative, we have implemented thermal scanning and placed sanitisation stations at regular checkpoints. A safe distancing set-up is in place at banquets, as it is at buffet counters. Starters and desserts are being served in mono-portions, with cutlery and plates being presented in covered sleeves.
What’s the current scenario of the luxury hospitality market in Bengaluru?
Bengaluru is a dynamic market. Many of our guests are experiencing lockdown fatigue and as a result, are exploring options for staycations. Moreover, with international as well as domestic travel being on hold, city hotels are seeing an uptick in business from the leisure travel segment.
- We offer custom-crafted long-stay packages that feature rooms with heightened safety and sanitisation protocols, all meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and flexible cancellations.
- Our isolation packages are meant for people who have tested negative but need to isolate for travel reasons or if they are primary contacts. The package offers accommodation, two pieces of laundry per person daily, three pre-set meals per day and complimentary Wi-Fi.
What has been the biggest learning experience during your career?
I think the biggest learning experience over the past two decades has been deep appreciation for the team that works day in and out, with passion and commitment, to deliver memorable guest experiences.
What’s one experience at ITC Windsor that guests should not miss?
Besides the regal era ambience, ITC Windsor boasts of a secret English garden on the 23rd floor of the Towers wing. Part of the charm of the garden city, the lush Lancelot Gardens with perfectly manicured lawns and quaint cobble-stoned walkways offers an atmosphere of complete peace and tranquility. The gardens are ideal for catching up with your favourite book and evening cuppa or keeping up with your fitness regime in the mornings.