Our perceptions of luxury hotels have changed over the past few decades. In the past it was all about going to exotic places to swim in infinity pools and lounge around in spas. Always knowing there were freshly washed towels whenever you stepped out of the bath or shower with unlimited amounts of hot water available. But then came the realisation that, whilst luxury hotels were providing poorer countries with employment, the amount of water those hotels were using was to the detriment of the local population.

According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, the average hotel room uses 1,500 litres of water every day. This is eight times more water per person on average than the local population, and in areas of high water stress, this can be devastating.

That is one of the reasons why even luxury hotels now always invite you to use your towels and bed linen for more than one night. By washing them less frequently, a lot of water can be saved. This is by no means the only solution to water stress problems, but when a hotel’s main aim is to look after paying guests, it is difficult to juggle the business needs with the need to become much more sustainable.

Changing perceptions of luxury

Thankfully, attitudes are changing. Sustainability is now at the forefront even in the luxury hotel world. Recently, Hotel Designs magazine published a Conscious Luxury report in collaboration with luxury bathroom design company AXOR. The report examines the evolution of design practices within luxury spaces, particularly in relation to water-related environments. The report's authors call upon architects, designers and hoteliers to lead by example when it comes to water conservation. They point out the obvious dilemma: “Hotels strive to make guests feel important, and unlimited access to water has always been considered a given.” They continue, “Thankfully, there are many conservation methods that don’t compromise comfort for sustainability. Guests can have the same luxurious experience while using less water.”

Around 10% of hotel utility bills are for water, so when designing hotels, it is important to think beyond installing basic water needs such as taps, shower heads and toilets, and it’s also important to take into account the needs of swimming pools, spas and golf courses. Luxury hotels need luxury surroundings which also depend on freshwater sources, including lawns, flowers, trees, fountains, and kitchen gardens, and there is also the need to keep pathways and roadways clean. AXOR estimates that by implementing sustainable practices, hotels could reduce their water consumption by 50%, representing considerable cost savings as well as water savings.

Be more BREEAM

BREEAM is the world’s leading science-based validation and certification system set up to encourage a sustainable built environment. Water consumption and efficiency is one of the main criteria on which buildings are assessed. Commercial and residential buildings around the world are working towards BREEAM’s holistic approach to achieve sustainability goals, and this includes luxury hotels. For example, The Londoner, which describes itself as “the world’s first super boutique hotel”, was designed with sustainability in mind, including water efficiency, and as a result has a BREEAM Excellent rating. And in Liverpool, work has just begun on the construction of the new luxury Maldron Hotel, which is being designed to achieve a BREEAM Very Good rating.

As the public perception of luxury continues to shift, and sustainability becomes a selling point, it is more important than ever to ensure you implement water efficiency measures in your luxury hotel.

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