Conscious Hotels is a chain of four “eco-sexy” hotels in Amsterdam located in desirable tourist destinations – Vondelpark, Westerpark, The Tire Station and Museum Square. As well as these locations being strategically situated to minimise the tourists’ transportation needs, the hotels are also in green spaces, with some even having gardens and green roofs. Construction of these hotels had minimal impacts as none of these buildings were newly constructed, however the internal operations try to contribute as positively as they can through making the stay comfortable and environmentally-friendly. Conscious Hotels contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically affordable and clean energy (7), responsible consumption and production (12), and climate action (13).
Conscious Hotels has committed to only using sustainable materials in their hotel rooms. For example, the wood used only comes from sustainably managed forests so is all Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified. All materials used are recycled, second-hand or certified cradle-to-cradle. Cradle-to-cradle describes materials that are produced in a circular way, eliminating waste, and contributing to a circular economy.
There has also been effort made to ensure that all the products in the rooms are also sustainably sourced. The rooms contain Royal Dutch Auping beds, which are fully circular with all materials being recycled. Many of the materials used are organic, such as the linen in the rooms and the cotton sweatshirt uniforms. The soap used is also organic and NaTrue certified, in addition to coming in refillable dispensers to minimise plastic waste. The pillows and quilts are Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, which states that the animals don’t undergo any unnecessary harm, however “unnecessary” is difficult to define and I find it questionable whether using an animal product was completely necessary in the first place, and whether an alternative wouldn’t have been more sustainable overall.
To try and support sustainable transport around the city Conscious Hotels offer bike rentals from Roetz rental. This is a very sustainable organisation itself making bikes from recycled materials assembled locally and training people with “poor job prospects” to become permanent mechanics. There are many other facilities provided here including workspaces, meeting rooms, event locations and private dining rooms. The foods served in the cafes and restaurants is organic and the coffee is Fairtrade. There are vegan and vegetarian options, however meat is still being served. There was little information regarding the amount of meat or whether there were any plans to reduce the meat being provided which I find important information regarding overall sustainability.
The location of each hotel is what makes part of the experience of staying at Conscious Hotels eco-friendly. All hotels are accessible by public transport from the train station or airport, and if a taxi service is necessary, Travel Electric is recommended. All the main sights in Amsterdam can then be easily reached by bike or public transport.
The way in which the hotel and its facilities is run is managed sustainably. Water saving taps and showers save 50% and 35% water, respectively. There are also measures in place to minimise waste. Paper, glass, plastic, residual and chemical waste is separated, and the rest of the waste is compacted. By reducing the amount of waste produced at Conscious Hotels, the frequency of collections by the waste service can be reduced, which reduced emissions from transport in turn. In terms of energy, Conscious Hotels is 100% powered by sustainable energy sources. There are solar panels of roofs, but Dutch wind power provides the majority of the energy. Tire Station and Westerpark hotels also have aquifer thermal energy storage to heat and cool buildings. However, I couldn’t find any data on the amount of resources used overall, and whether there are any plans to keep reducing waste/energy/water.
The cleaning service is also trying to be as sustainable as possible. For instance, the rooms are cleaned without chemicals. The amount of laundry needed to be done is minimised to reduce energy and water use by only changing towels when guests request them to be. Furthermore, when the laundry is done, it is done using Van Der Kleij laundry service. The linen and towels are recycled, and the materials have Global Organic Textile Standard and Fairtrade certification.
Conscious Hotels have received a Green Key Gold certificate (eco-label). They have also been listed as a “pioneer in eco-friendly tourism” in the National Geographic Traveller 2019. They try to encourage their guests to make more sustainable choices during their stay. One of the ways in which they do this is through their partnership with the Sustainably Run Hotels Initiative where guests are offered the opportunity to offset their impact by planting a fruit tree in the Global South. However, only 963 trees have been planted so far so I think much more can be done to encourage this scheme. The website also recommends eco-conscious activities to its guests such as shopping in vintage stores and electric boat tours.
Despite Conscious Hotels doing many this very well and their efforts seeming very genuine there seems to be a lack of ambition to do better and some issues with transparency. I did not find any sustainability reports or any environmental targets that Conscious Hotels is working towards. Therefore, there was a lack of quantitative information. This makes me feel that the system that is set up isn’t changing any time soon, and although Conscious Hotels are substantially more sustainable than most hotel chains, the vital drive to keep innovating and improving further seems to be missing. As well as this, I couldn’t find any financial records regarding their investments or staff wage breakdowns. Increased transparency behind the scenes, as well as documenting all the sustainable approaches directly relevant to the tourist, would be appreciated.
<Official website> https://www.conscioushotels.com/
<Sustainably run offsetting certificate> https://www.sustainably.run/conscious-hotels
<Certifications listed> https://takecare.io/company/conscious-hotels/
<Roetz bikes> https://www.roetz-bikes.com/
<Auping mattresses> https://www.auping.com/en
<Responsible Down Standard> https://textileexchange.org/standards/responsible-down/
<Green Key certification> https://www.greenkey.global/
<Cradle to cradle> https://www.c2ccertified.org/