In 2019, Gloria Fluxa, the vice chairwoman and chief sustainability officer at Iberostar Group, asked visitors to her Dominican Republic hotels not to eat 34 kinds of seafood.
The request was merely the beginning of a sweeping new effort for the global hospitality company, which has embarked on a massive campaign to educate both staff and guests about the critical importance of making more sustainable food choices.
Iberostar’s efforts come in response to startling and deeply concerning changes taking place around the planet that are borne out by research.
For instance, according to the United Nations, one-third of the world’s oceans are now overfished.
What’s more, hotel chains are among the largest buyers of seafood on the planet, says Eachmile Technologies, a company focused on transforming the global seafood and agriculture supply chains. In fact, some major hotels and integrated resorts consume more than one ton of seafood and feed as many as ten thousand staff meals every single day.
In other words, the type of seafood that hotel companies purchase can have a profound impact on the state of world fisheries. And when hotels purchase that seafood from poorly managed fisheries, fish and shellfish can decline and the habitat they live in can be damaged, says Eachmile.
None of these facts are lost on Iberostar, a company that hosts eight million guests each year at its 120 hotels and restaurants in 19 countries
With such realities in mind, Iberostar has already converted 15 percent of its total seafood procurement to suppliers that are certified by partner organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). The company’s goal is to push that conversion rate to 25 percent.
Throughout its locations around the world, Iberostar currently serves about 19,000 pounds or 86,000 servings of MSC-ASC-certified seafood a month. The company is also working with the World Wildlife Fund-US and FishWise to improve the sourcing of 100 percent of its seafood and to train many of its 32,000 staff members about responsible seafood consumption.
Iberostar is also embracing local seasonal regulations—including the recent banning of 34 species of seafood from its menus in the Dominican Republic.
“As a family business that has become a part of the communities we’ve served for decades, we believe the hotels play a critical role in ensuring the sustainability of the environmental resources of this country for generations to come,” said Fluxa, fourth-generation leader of the 63-year-old family-owned tourism business.
By operating MSC-ASC certified restaurants, Iberostar assures guests they’re supporting fishermen and businesses who share their environmental consciousness, a point that has never been more relevant, as sustainability is an increasingly important factor in the choices made by countless travelers.
Iberostar’s own study found that when choosing a hotel, 68 percent of guests considered the property’s sustainability policy in their decision.
“We see this as one step in a larger commitment,” said Dr. Megan Morikawa, director of sustainability for Iberostar. “Getting MSC and ASC Certifications where we operate to allow for the traceability of key seafood products is one step in a larger commitment, where dozens of suppliers, thousands of staff, and millions of clients are guided by best seafood practices and join in this movement with us.”
Ultimately, the question Iberostar is seeking to answer is whether the food consumption of eight million tourists can make a difference in the worldwide seafood industry.
Iberostar believes the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Comments & Discussion
How Will the US Hotel Experience Change Post COVID-19?
As hotel occupancy ticks up ever so slightly, the lodging industry is putting new standards in place to enhance cleaning and ensure guest safety.
One organization working overtime to make sure that these new measures are clear and communicated effectively to the public is the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), which has created Safe Stay guidelines for the industry.
“Safe Stay was developed specifically to ensure enhanced safety for hotels guests and employees. While hotels have always employed demanding cleaning standards, this new initiative will ensure greater transparency and confidence throughout the entire hotel experience,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “The industry’s enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols will continue to evolve to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.”
Travelers in states where shelter in place and stay at home orders have been lifted may be looking to travel and stay in a hotel soon. What will that look like in the “new normal?”
Hygiene will be the number one priority. The Safe Stay guidelines promote frequent handwashing for employees, hand sanitizer dispensers, signage, instructions for mask-wearing and more.
Major hotel brands have launched their own programs, too, partnering with brands such as Clorox and Lysol and the Mayo Clinic.
Hilton CleanStay was launched in partnership with the makers of Lysol as well as the Mayo Clinic. Marriott announced a Global Cleanliness Council, a panel of experts on everything from food and water safety, infection prevention and hygiene, and hotel operations.
Visitors will have a much more contact-less experience when they visit properties while maintaining social distancing guidelines and new standards of cleanliness.
Hilton will have a CleanStay room seal on guestroom doors and guests will no longer find shared amenities such as pens and paper in the room and room directories will be made digital.
Travelers are also likely to find keyless entry to rooms and disinfecting wipes for touching elevator buttons. Room service menus and ordering will likely be done on mobile apps.
Guests should also arrive expecting to self park their vehicles. Resorts such as Omni have limited valet services and instituted social distancing protocols where self-parking is unavailable.
There will also be limits on the number of people allowed to congregate in different areas with limited seating in lobbies, bars and restaurants in order to observe social distancing guidelines. The days of buffet dining may also be a thing of the past. AHLA guidelines say that room service should use contactless delivery and that buffets should be limited and served by an attendant in personal protective equipment. Pre-packaged and grab and go options are encouraged.
Guests may have to plan out their visits to the gym. Expect fitness centers to close multiple times per day for cleaning as well as socially distanced pool areas with lounge chairs six feet apart.
Behind the scenes there will be new cleaning technologies utilized.
One example is Marriott’s deployment of electrostatic sprayers and the use of the highest-grade disinfectant products. Electrostatic cleaning really gives a deep clean to surfaces, the spraying is a method where a device is used to apply an electric charge to a disinfectant, enabling the disinfectant to more effectively cover a surface than traditional cleaning methods.
One of the aspects of hotel stays that remains unknown is how many properties will institute temperature checks but travelers should expect the practice may become quite common.
The Venetian in Las Vegas said that it will use thermal scanners at entry points for a non-invasive temperature check.
Many properties will screen the health of their employees and include temperature checks.
Caesars Entertainment said that it will institute health screenings for all employees that include taking temperatures and COVID-19 testing.
While most hotel guidelines call for near-constant cleaning and disinfecting, travelers can also do their part.
Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer should be frequent when traveling. Many properties plan to provide face masks and disinfectant wipes, but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own and wipe down surfaces, doorknobs and buttons.
Wearing a face mask is also recommended to protect both you and those around you.
Comments & Discussion
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