x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Green acclaim for Emirates Hotels

Emirates Hotels $125m Wolgan Valley resort becomes world's first internationally accredited carbon-neutral resort.

The Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa is situated amid Australia's Blue Mountains in a UN World Heritage area.
The Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa is situated amid Australia's Blue Mountains in a UN World Heritage area.

Emirates Hotels and Resorts' A$125 million (Dh404.6m) conservation-based luxury Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa in Australia has become the world's first internationally accredited carbon-neutral hotel, the Emirates Group's hospitality division says. The certification was issued under the auspices of the international programme carboNZeroCert.

The carbon footprint of the travel and tourism industry, including aviation, is about 5 per cent of global carbon emissions, the UN World Tourism Organisation says. "Although it was necessary to buy a small quantity of carbon credits to achieve carbon neutrality for Wolgan Valley, this will only be necessary for the first year or two of operation," said Tony Williams, the hospitality group's senior vice president of resorts and projects.

"As we implement further emissions reduction programmes on-site, and as re-vegetation areas continue to grow, Wolgan Valley is likely to become completely carbon neutral. This will occur when newly planted trees mature sufficiently to absorb more carbon dioxide, as well as through continual operational improvements." Measures to reduce the hotel's carbon footprint included the protection of vegetated areas. More than 175,000 indigenous trees were planted as part of that effort.

Emirates said the overall footprint of the resort was already low due to the application of green building principles in its design and construction, which included the use of solar power and heat recovery. The resort's electricity supplier also agreed to provide 35 per cent of the resort's power from renewable energy, the maximum proportion currently available. The resort has also sourced its regional food and other supplies from within a 160km radius, reducing the emissions associated with the transportation of the products.

Wolgan Valley, which opened last October in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales state, is Emirates's first international hotel project. Emirates Group launched its luxury Bedouin resort in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in 1999. It set up Emirates Hotels and Resorts in 2006 to expand its hospitality operations internationally. "Many people are looking for [sustainable] tourism and this is increasing day by day," said Noel Massoud, the chief executive of International Hotel Consultants and the eco-friendly hotel chain Jinan Hotels and Resorts, based in Abu Dhabi.

"Any business like the hotel industry that depends on attracting and retaining customers needs to respond quickly and accurately to the issues that their target audience cares about." Emirates's $253m eco-resort in the Seychelles has been delayed due to the economic downturn. The resort's opening was scheduled for next year, but is now planned to open in late 2012. @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae