In the wake of global concern for environment protection and climate change, ITC Hotels is certainly doing its bit by indulging in Responsible Luxury. Here’s what the hospitality industry can learn from ITC Hotels. By Team T+L
Today the world is witnessing a subtle, but an inescapable shift in consumer behaviour, especially at the upper end of the income scale. Conspicuous consumption is now passé, conscious consumption is the goal. Acquisition certainly continues but is seen as less desirable, when compared to experiential aspirations. The big spender today still spends, but craves new experiences, searches for stories, finds greater satisfaction in being, rather than buying.
The second aspect that is gaining currency rapidly is a concern for the planet. The high-end spender wants to be reassured that his economic footprint is not expanding his carbon footprint. There is far greater sensitivity to issues like water wastage, excessive use of plastics, dependence on fossil fuels, recycling and others. When it comes to hotels, this new age customer has very different expectations: luxury most certainly, but luxury with a conscience. Being able to patronise hotels that demonstrate this conscience makes them feel better about themselves and reassures them that they are making the right choice.
One hotel chain that not only responds to this aspiration but acts out of its deep-rooted convictions is ITC Hotels. The concept and the credo is Responsible Luxury. ITC Hotels was the first to introduce this concept and has designed its hotels and services around it. For guests here, luxury is as much about the things they see as about those that they cannot. For the hotel, Responsible Luxury is the ability to create authentic, indigenous experiences true to the soil the hotel stands on while protecting the environment and staying in harmony with the broader society.
The authenticity and fidelity to the hotel’s location are perceptible in its architecture and décor, which celebrate India’s craftspeople and their incomparable creations. ITC Maurya in New Delhi pays homage to the land of the Buddha. Its lobby is reminiscent of a chaitya, or a Buddhist prayer hall. In Chennai, when the ITC Grand Chola was being built, local artisans were brought in to create delicate hand carvings that were first seen in the times of the ancient Chola dynasty, dating back to the third century BCE. Even the staff at ITC Hotels stays true to its roots. Each guest relations executive in ITC Sonar in Kolkata proudly wears the Baluchari sari, which has a 400-year old history, while at ITC Maratha in Mumbai, you can see them wearing the Paithani sari, reputed to date back to the second century BCE.
Guests at ITC Hotels have always applauded the company’s commitment to popularising Indian cuisines, reviving forgotten ingredients and processes and showcasing the incredible depth and vibrancy of regional fare. Names like Bukhara, Dum Pukht, Dakshin and Avartana have come to exemplify the finest culinary experiences. Myriad initiatives have been launched to look after each guest’s health and well-being. Special science-based programmes that promote deep, restful sleep. Breakfasts that put taste and health on the same plate. Indoor air quality is constantly monitored and kept at the highest international levels. Drinking water purified to the most stringent standards.
For ITC Hotels, Responsible Luxury is synonymous with protecting the planet. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognised system to certify green buildings, and Platinum is its highest certification. Each ITC Hotel has won the LEED Platinum Certification from the US Green Building Council. It’s a global first.
The company has resolved to eliminate all single-use plastic from its guest-facing areas by December 31, 2019. Over 53% of the total electrical energy requirement of the hotels is met from renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power. 99% of solid waste and 100% of wastewater are recycled. The water consumption in the hotels has been brought down by 50%. More than 40% of the food products used are sourced locally. Over 50% of the paper used is either certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, sourced locally or recycled.
It is truly commendable that ITC Hotels has adopted Responsible Luxury as a business philosophy, a cultural ethos and a promise to the planet. Because the earth is the only place we can call home.