With growing awareness and consumer demand for responsible tourism, hotel chains are jumping on board the sustainable bandwagon by rolling out a variety of green initiatives and adopting more sustainable practices.
In Thailand, the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park has grand plans to make the big shift to sustainability by first fighting food waste through various zero-waste tactics.
To steer the hotel operations towards a greener future, the 1,388-key property last month hired a sustainability manager, Michael Riley. Riley’s first task was to oversee and reduce food waste at the Goji Kitchen+Bar – an effort first championed by the property’s executive chef Michael Vincent Hogan and senior executive sous chef Daniel Bucher.
Hogan shared that this food reduction movement began last year when Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park started supporting the Bangkok-based Scholars of Sustenance (SOS) Foundation, which collects excess food from businesses and delivers them to the needy across the city.
Such partnerships with SOS and various Thai farmers help to cut wastage of food that would otherwise end up in landfills, while creating positive ripple effects within the local community.
In addition, Hogan shared how surplus food from the hotel’s buffet line are safely reused. For instance, leftover beef at the carving station is turned into a stew, while its bones are boiled and reduced to soup stock. Meanwhile, croissants are morphed into bread puddings, while fruit skins are dehydrated for cocktail mixes. Other food waste is turned into compost for the hotel’s gardens, or becomes feed for various farmers the hotel partners with – oyster shells are grounded into powder for chicken feed, for example.
The property also reduces its carbon footprint by sourcing ingredients such as pineapples, beef and fish locally, and self-cultivates a variety of herbs like tarragon and mint from its two on-site gardens. One of the gardens also houses a troop of free-range chickens and a bee colony, while an indoor vertical hydroponic garden grows rocket leaves.
On why Goji Kitchen+Bar is the first F&B venue on the property to be targeted, Riley shared: “It is the main restaurant that serves around 2,000 covers a day, and would bring about the most impact in terms of food waste. Aside from Goji, we also try to reduce excess food during banquets.”
Goji is currently the test-bed, but Riley revealed that the zero-waste initiatives will eventually be rolled out to the hotel’s other F&B venues. He shared that F&B team members at the other restaurants “have seen the benefits and have started various initiatives to reduce food waste too”.
But Riley’s plans for the hotel’s move towards zero waste goes beyond food waste reduction. “One problem I had the other day were clogged drains, and I’m trying to look for an organic solution, made from bacteria, that can break down the waste (as opposed to pouring chemicals down the drain),” he mused.
Other green initiatives he hopes to implement across the hotel include bringing in compostable, food-safe bags for use in the kitchen, and introducing glass-bottled water in rooms. Earlier this year, Marriott also announced that it was switching from small bottles of bath gel and shampoo to larger pump bottles by December 2020.
However, every step towards sustainability comes with a fresh set of challenges. Riley explained: “Being sustainable is always more expensive, so one challenge is the cost factor for the eco-friendly kitchen food bags. The other problem is finding storage space for the glass-bottled water – in comparison, plastics can be crushed easily after use.”
Aside from the efforts of both the individual property and the entire hospitality chain, Riley pointed out that changing the mindset of its hotel guests, as well as educating staff – despite a high turnover rate – is crucial.
“It is about finding the right balance that marries both business sense and sustainability because as a large hotel chain, we can definitely make a huge difference in the world,” he concluded.