Hotel Verde - Green from the ground up

2013-08-29 12:42

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To be called the greenest hotel in Africa is a bold statement – but after attending the opening of Hotel Verde it is clear that it is a philosophy with deep-seated roots in the latest offering on the doorstep of Cape Town International Airport.

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, instead we borrow them from our children"

Owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio, along with their daughters treated dignitaries, media and guests to a heartfelt opening – setting the challenge for other industry players to match their values of Passion, Care, Respect and Honesty.

While those in attendance might have been overwhelmed by all the emotion of what is clearly a family venture, operating on green principles as a differentiating factor seems to require it.
"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that." Thomas Edison, 1931

Essentially, going green is not the cheapest choice and swimming against the mainstream often requires a marked degree of dedication and passion.

While undoubtedly being energy efficient and sustainable is the hotel's competitive edge in the realm of eco-tourism - How competitive are the prices for travellers staying at this three-star establishment?

The starting rate is R990 per single or R1130 double per room per night, including breakfast. Certainly not back-breaking for a hotel less than 400m away from Cape Town International Airport and a short highway trip to some of Cape Town's main attractions.

Changing the status quo

Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels under whose banner Hotel Verdi operates, says "This is definitely one of the most innovative hotels on the continent and we are thrilled to be involved in a project of this nature.”

André Harms, Hotel Verde’s Sustainability Consultant behind the ground-breaking eco-technology estimates the cost of the hotel to be in the region of R200-million, with 20% of the overall budget being utilised to employ the unique features that include ‘dematerialisation’. Harms explained how concrete slabs containing strategically recycled polypropylene, hollow spheres saved the use of approximately 1 279 tons of concrete, all the while maintaining structural integrity.

From the ground up - watch this video detailing the key systems being used across the hotel.

The Hotel has also bypassed one of the industry’s biggest cost factors, air-conditioning systems, with its geothermal heat pumps.

It might be slightly complex to visualise, but essentially 100 boreholes drilled approximately 65-metres into the ground, to where the temperature is a consistent 19 degrees, is being used to act as a heat source in winter and a “heat sink” in summer. Hot air is pumped up in the cold season and cooler air is circulated during the warmer months, boosting efficiency and dramatically reducing operational costs – it also made a noticeable difference to the noise factor in the different rooms during our tour.

Harms explained that while green technology requires a considerable investment initially, in the long run the returns would speak for themselves.

“It would take an estimated seven years to recoup the costs but the energy being saved overall on a day-to-day basis would be more than 50%. We still need to accurately measure this and the hotel has been approached to become a case-study for sustainable eco developments going forward."

The hotel is even able to cut down on consumption according to occupancy, which means empty tiers within the hotel can save power supply by being switched off and reconnected when necessary.

The hotel even has an up-to-the-minute screen displaying the consumption of energy across the hotel – and vampire voltage guests will certainly miss out on the opportunity to earn Verdino’s – a personalised reward system to be employed in the hotel to encourage guests to develop an greener mindset.
As General Manager of the hotel, Samantha Annandale explains, “We want to educate guests as well as encourage them to minimise their impact on the environment.  We have come up with fun, subtle ways to do that, which will hopefully become second nature that guests then take home with them.”

Added features to minimise the hotel’s carbon footprint include:

-    Photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and a sophisticated grey water recycling plant that will reduce the hotel’s water consumption by a massive 37%. 

-    Of the 145 luxurious, contemporary-styled rooms there are only eight baths – the rest are fitted with showering facilities. The four room types available include standard, studio, executive, and an executive suite.  There is also an option for inter-leading rooms for families.

-    The fully equipped hotel gym is the first in Africa to have power-generating equipment. These machines push power back into the hotel as you work out, showing the amount of energy you are generating.

-    Seven meeting rooms, seating anything from 8 to 120 delegates, equipped to meet all conferencing requirements and a strong emphasis on natural lighting throughout.

-    All food is seasonal, sourced and produced locally, featuring lots of raw and organic foods, alongside the favourites.  Breakfast is available from 04:30 for travellers needing to catch an early flight or attend a
morning meeting.

-    The surrounding wetlands feature an outdoor eco-trail for all those guests who prefer to exercise in the open air and leads to a selection of hi-tech, outdoor gym equipment.

-    Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the business centre is equipped with all the latest technology required to keep guests in touch.

Have you stayed in any hotels with significant green initiatives? Tell us about it by email -

Read more on:    travel  |  travel international

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