The airport industrial area of Cape Town, South Africa is not an address which inspires images of ‘environmentally-friendly’ or ‘carbon neutral’, but Hotel Verde is both these things, writes Kirsten Bohle.
Nestled amongst the parking lots of rental car companies and industrial warehouses, a stone’s throw from Cape Town International Airport, the self-proclaimed Greenest Hotel in Africa has gone above and beyond to ensure that their operation has no negative impact on their surrounding environment. More so, the wetlands which serve as the hotel gardens have been restored back to their former glory after years of environmental abuse from the surrounding industries.
Every aspect of the hotel which could be ‘greened’ has been, and helpful signs located all around the hotel and in the rooms explain how this has been achieved. A Pontos grey water plant sterilises and filters bath water, which is pumped back into the hotel to flush toilets. The hotel has a 40 000 litre water tank to collect rainwater, three wind turbines, which generate energy and photovoltaic panels for powering essential hardware. LED bulbs light the hotel and a vegetable garden is tended to by the kitchen staff. Any other food served in the dining room is sourced and produced locally. Their design piece de resistance is a living wall (or vertical garden) separating the lounge from the bar, which is not only a calming beauty but also helps to purify the air inside.
Environmental Design Award
Tourism Tattler was invited for an over-night stay to celebrate the Hotel’s latest and greatest achievement − a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certificate for new construction − the only hotel in Africa to have qualified for this honour and one of only six worldwide. The program recognizes the best-in-class green building practices, with platinum being the highest level to reach. Hotel Verde’s status as Africa’s Greenest Hotel has been firmly cemented.
Every Wednesday evening, the hotel observes earth hour. The lights are switched off and dinner is served in candlelight, to the sweet tunes of the resident pianist. The kitchen cooks with as little electricity as possible on a Wednesday and we were treated to a potjie buffet and gentle crème brulee for dessert. Just after nine the house lights came on, assaulting our eyes and after a quick poll the diners unanimously agreed to continue our meals in the glow of candlelight.
The owners of the hotel, Mario and Annemarie Delicio, conceptualised the hotel from the ground up with the help of several dedicated experts, including sustainability consultant Andre Harms of Ecolution Consulting. He credits his clients for their dedication to the concept, which did not come cheap or easy.
They were inspired to create an entirely carbon-neutral hotel and conferencing experience, catering not only to business travel but also to holiday tourists looking for a convenient base close to both the airport and Cape Town’s favourite attractions. It is their belief that all hotels should be built in this manner and should strive to be eco-friendly.
Superior Facilities and Amenities
Luxury, style and convenience have not been compromised in the quest for carbon-neutral. The artwork in the hotel is all locally sourced and the rooms boast a contemporary design with large showers and a bed you can’t wait to sink into. The rooms come equipped with minibars, flat screen televisions and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. Guests are also invited to take a dip in the eco-pool or a turn around the jogging trail, which winds through the restored wetlands. An outdoor gym makes for a fun pit stop on your route, while the beehives might make you pick up your pace. A gym is also available inside, and your workout on the machines will generate power which is pumped back into the hotel. Guests are encouraged to utilise this service to earn Verdinos, which are rewarded for eco-friendly behaviour and can be redeemed at the twenty four hour deli in the reception area. Not using the air conditioner in your room is another way to earn Verdinos, as is recycling waste and reusing bath towels.
It is the little touches that set’s a hotel apart in the eyes of a seasoned traveller, the details overlooked by many hotels and guesthouses. A unique music corner encourages guests to pick up an instrument and allow their creative juices to flow, which is just one way that Hotel Verde demonstrates their excellence in customer care. Serving breakfast from 4:30 a.m. is another, welcome news indeed for red-eye travellers more accustomed to a breakfast of instant coffee and not much else.
Hotel Verde ticks all the boxes and then some. Comfort, style and guest satisfaction appear to be as high a priority to them as ensuring the environmental sustainability of running the 145 room hotel. With 7 conference venues accommodating 4-120 delegates, Hotel Verde will meet the most discerning PCO’s conferencing needs and more.
The hotel is very conveniently located and offers a great variety of activities and facilities for their guests, all offered with a friendly smile. They are currently running several winter specials for both their conference and overnight facilities. If you are planning group tours to Cape Town, book your clients in now. Not only will your clients be pampered, they will also be able to brag that they have stayed at Africa’s greenest hotel.
About the Author: Tourism Tattler correspondent Kirsten Bohle is a freelance writer and blogger. She holds a BA International Studies from Stellenbosch University, with majors in Political Science, History and Psychology. This was followed up by a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing and Advertising Communications. She writes at www.thejollyjammer.co.za.