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Sustainable housekeeping solutions: Need of the hour

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On the third day of the 36th edition of Express Food & Hospitality tradeshow held in Goa recently organised a panel discussion on “Sustainable housekeeping solutions”

Express Food & Hospitality tradeshow held in Goa recently witnessed the presence of executive housekeepers from leading hotels in Goa who spoke at length about adopting environmentally responsible housekeeping solutions. The panelists included Abhishek Upadhayaya, EHK, Le Meridien Goa Calangute; Krishna Sawant, EHK, Deltin Suites; Renjith Paul, deputy HK, Azaya Beach Resort Goa; Shailesh Mordekar, EHK, Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa, Goa; Vijay Joshi, EHK, Vivanta Panaji, Goa, and Kishore Pudota, EHK, Hard Rock Hotel Goa.

Greening housekeeping operations
Kickstarting the discussion, the panelists mentioned the numerous cookie-cutter solutions that they have adopted for sustainable housekeeping, without compromising on their guest’s stay experience. Joshi said, “We are in the process of eliminating all plastic bottles from our hotels. But, the question that arises is will we be able to please our guests that the water we are serving is hygienic? For that, we researched and installed a water filtration plant in the hotel itself. We have started the practice of using water in glass bottles in our restaurants and the next step will be in rooms. The guests are also encouraging this practice.” He also felt that the common water refill stations which is quite common in international hotels should be seen as another alternative by Indian hotels to save water and discourage use of plastic.
Adding to this, Upadhayaya said, “There is a difference when you are cutting costs and when you are cutting wastes, which are inversely proportional to each other. One thing that we are doing in this aspect is the message conveyed to the guests about usage of towels. Even at our homes, we do not wash our towels every day, so we want to convey to them that the same thing should be in case of hotels as well. The guests can leave their towels on the counter if they do not want it to be changed, or can drop it on the floor if they need it changed.” He further added, “We also have this programme, wherein we give reward points to the guests for not changing linen on a daily-basis which is being appreciated. This is a valuable strategy that we apply to follow sustainable housekeeping without hampering the guest experience.”
Speaking on similar lines, Pudota stated, “We at Hard Rock Hotels have a motto called ‘Save The Planet’. Every department at Hard Rock Hotels think responsibly to minimise wastage of natural resources because it is at an alarming stage of depletion. Similar to other hotels, we too have plans to save these resources wherein we channelise treated used water for landscaping. We have installed LED throughout most places of the hotel to save on electricity. Also, as Vijay was saying, for plastic, we too discourage the use of the same, and hence have replaced all our plastic straws with the bio-degradable alternatives.”
Opining that every guest has a different temperament, countering Joshi’s point about having common water refill stations in hotels, Paul said that the real concern here is that often many guests might want water bottles in their rooms instead of going to these stations citing that they need the service for the money that they have paid. But he also agreed with Joshi partly, saying, “We need to create awareness among the guests that the water in glass bottles is potable. It is quite evident among international travellers that they are told not to drink water in India if it is not from packaged water bottles. We need to root out that misconception.”
Mordekar supported Paul’s statement saying, “The common water refill stations are evident in hotels in international destinations like Maldives, but if we do that here in India, the guests might say we are cutting costs. So, it depends on how well we are able to communicate to and educate our customers about a hotel’s efforts to save natural resources through such practices.”
Sawant also resounded views of educating the customers about saving the environment through adopting eco-friendly practices.
Not just saving natural resources, but the panelists also voiced that one must look at all-round aspects that can directly or indirectly contribute to the eco-friendly practices and social responsibilities being adopted by the hotel. In this they listed examples including usage of eco-friendly cleaning agents; effective time management in refreshing rooms; using GHG-free air conditioners; cleaning rooms with natural lighting to save energy costs, and tying up with NGOs for segregation and distribution of leftover soap to needy households as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Goa’s eco-friendly practices
Highlighting the awareness of environment-friendly practices in Goa at large, Paul remarked that the state observes proper segregation of waste. Mordekar agreed with him saying, “Even I have seen it, because even at personal level at my place, when the person comes to collect the garbage, he ensures and otherwise informs me to segregate plastic and non-plastic waste items separately, which shows that the people in Goa practise environment safety responsibly.” The other panelists also agreed with him saying they too at personal level segregate the waste to make waste management easy not only at their hotel properties but at a societal level too.

Educating the staff
Having listed the numerous ways to adopt prospective eco-friendly housekeeping solutions, the panelists felt that sustainable housekeeping solutions can only be achieved if the whole team is on the same page when it comes to handling resources responsibly while ensuring seamless hospitality is extended to the guests. Suggesting a way to keep the spirits of the team high to follow sustainable housekeeping practices, Pudota said, “We need to have a continuous talk about environment safety responsibility within our team, and gradually with the time passing it will be adopted by the team members.”
Paul remarked that it’s important to teach the team about how to take it forward because they need to know how to effectively reduce wastage of important resources in challenging tasks, while also completing the task without seconding the quality.
“If we ourselves do not believe in what we are doing, the message wouldn’t be conveyed further. So as a team they need to be educated on the task that the hotel is doing, be it for the environment or social responsibility, etc. Like they should be educated up on the further process of what is happening to the leftover soap that is collected, etc,” said Mordekar.
Joshi concluded by saying that first as a team the department needs to adopt environment friendly practices and then the customers will themselves follow suit looking at their functionality, irrespective of an Indian or international traveller.


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