Sustainable Tourism

Thrivability in Green Hotel Development

The lessons learned in sustainable development and marketing of ‘Africa’s Greenest Hotel’ in Cape Town and ‘Zanzibar’s Greenest Resort’ in Tanzania is now being offered as a turnkey solution for hospitality investors worldwide through Verde Hotels. By Des Langkilde.

Hotelier Mario Delicio and his industrious team at Verde Hotels have an ambitious aim – to establish green hotels throughout Africa, and abroad.

“I had never imagined that my families’ humble pursuit to own a green hotel would become the exceptionally caring and inventive establishment that Hotel Verde Cape Town has become. I hope that people will see all of our cumulative efforts and that they will be inspired to implement small changes in their lives and businesses too,” says Mario.

And the “small changes” that Mario eludes to are coined in the phrase ‘Thrivability’ – meaning the act of thriving and prospering without damaging or causing harm and encompassing three core concepts: People, Profit, and Planet.

“Our approach to sustainable tourism development is about neutralising a hotel’s impact on the environment and about succeeding as a business venture. Thrivability speaks to the business imperative of making a profit in order to perpetuate an organization (and its members/employees) as well as function in productive symbiosis with its environment,” says Samantha Annandale, CEO of Verde Hotels.

Verde Hotel’s thrivability model provides sustainable hospitality solutions that meet stringent international green building certification system criteria. The model incorporates responsible design, construction, project, and operations management and training. As pioneers in green hospitality globally, Verde Hotels provides socially conscious investors, developers, and hoteliers with significantly reduced operating costs and increased profits by providing turnkey service offerings focused on new commercial construction and retrofitting of existing buildings.

Energy & Water. In addition to energy produced by the indoor gym, Hotel Verde also has photo-voltaic solar panels and three wind turbines, producing 11,9% of their energy requirement per annum. A 40 000 Litre water tank collects rainwater for landscape irrigation, while a Pontos grey water plant sterilises and filters guest shower and basin water, which is pumped back into the Hotel to flush the toilet system.

“When we built Hotel Verde in 2012 we paid a premium of nearly 11% to build green. At that time we were expecting an ROI of around 7 years. However, the power crisis two years ago, and the water crisis now, have seen energy costs rise tremendously and due to this, our ROI has reduced down to 5 years. Today, so many products are available at no extra cost and other products such as solar PV panels have come down in cost to the point that the premium of going green today is only 7-8%. I’m not exaggerating when I say that green building is the only viable way considering that the savings over time are so great,” says Delicio.

Isolating quantifiable ROI’s, the green build project gained just over R30 million in free press exposure since the project commenced, reduced utility consumption costs by 70% (cost per room night based on utilities at Hotel Verde was R29.52 vs an average Cape Town hotel of R97.28 cost), and lowered energy consumption by 63,1% (94 kWh/sqm/annum vs Cape Town hotel average of 255 kWh/sqm/annum), which even beat the LEED model average of 159.5 kWh/sqm/annum by 41,4%.

Outdoor Gym. Verde Hotels’ flagship hotel at Cape Town International Airport, Hotel Verde, uses a dedicated outdoor gym area to assist guests to engage with the environment.

Overall, the Hotel Verde green-build project resulted in an average of 35% lower operating costs, a 70% reduction in energy consumption, 92% waste to landfill reduction, and 64.9% lower water consumption.

“At Verde Hotels we believe that the hotel industry has changed, and hoteliers simply cannot build or operate hotels in the same way as they have done in the past. Verde Hotels is the future of hospitality. Companies with proactive environmental strategies have a 4% higher return on investment, 9% higher sales growth and 17% higher operating growth than companies with poor environmental track records,” says Samantha.

As a hotel management company, Verde Hotels aims to spearhead sustainable hotel management throughout Africa by offering hotel investors and developers property management packages for both new construction projects and retrofitting of existing buildings.

For more information visit or contact Samantha at [email protected] or call +27 21 380 5600.

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