August 2, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image credit: Petra Leary

The Hotel Britomart, which opened in Auckland in 2020, has released its first annual sustainability report, outlining how it’s looking to grow the property’s already impressive sustainability credentials.

New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star hotel, The Hotel Britomart also achieved gold status with the national tourism quality assurance organisation, Qualmark, in its Sustainable Tourism Business Award earlier this year. Assessment for this standard takes in economic, environmental, cultural and social sustainability, as well as assessing the sustainability of the business on the health and safety front.

In 2021, The Hotel Britomart was also acknowledged as one of two runners up in National Geographic’s “Good Egg” accolade, which recognises the world’s most sustainable hotels.

The property’s sustainability report lays out the goals for their sustainability journey over the next year and provides insights from change-making stakeholders.

There are eight goals across governance, environment and people and culture on the cards for the next 12 months.

In the governance category, the hotel is seeking to gain New Zealand’s Toitū Envirocare Certification and develop an emissions reduction plan for the hotel and formalise tree plantings associated with their Green Clean initiative which allows guests to opt for room servicing and towel changes on request rather than daily in order to reduce washing and associated water, chemical and linen use.

Their environment goals include improving their sustainability communications and storytelling, which will likely lead to better awareness amongst guests and the wider travel and business events industries of both what The Hotel Britomart is doing and what is possible for sustainable hotel stays. The hotel is also investigating alternative waste streams for guest slippers and looking to increase the number of guests taking up the Green Clean option when visiting the hotel.

The Hotel Britomart already has a finely tuned building management system, with live meters updating every half hour, tracking resource usage within the property, with settings designed to reduce power usage while still optimising the comfort of guests. The hotel’s existing waste streams maximise recycling and reuse, with fat and oil waste turned into biofuel and the methane generated by landfill waste used to power homes on Auckland’s north shore.

Meanwhile onsite restaurant Kingi is focussed on sustainable seafood, local seasonal produce and wild and game foods.

“It’s been super-interesting to see the cross-section of diners,” said the restaurant’s co-founder Tom Hishon in the sustainability report.

“I think that in itself is a real success, because there are certain things on the menu that typically wouldn’t do so well in other contexts. But I think because of our proposition around being a sustainable seafood restaurant, and how we have a lot of wild food on the menu really played out to our audience well.”

The restaurant was awarded best hotel restaurant and given two chef’s hats in New Zealand’s Cuisine Good Food Awards in February 2022.

In terms of social goals, the hotel is looking to form partnerships with two ocean-related charities this year and aims to apply for social sustainability certifications while also making improvements in their social sustainability practices where they can, regardless of certification. And with the wider Britomart precinct, they’re hoping to form a partnership with a full-immersion Māori school in west Auckland to establish employment pathways for students at The Hotel Britomart.

The property already has a social procurement policy, which preferences social impact over cost when exercising buying power, with 95 per cent of all procurement coming from New Zealand suppliers and 80 per cent of all procurement made in New Zealand, reducing carbon emissions and supporting the local supply chain at as many links as possible. Participating in projects like Soap Aid also helps those further afield, with unused soap recycled and sent to communities around the world in need of additional hygiene resources.

The Hotel Britomart has several small meetings spaces, collectively called “The Libraries”. The smallest space caters for private dinners of 12, with larger spaces able to accommodate 70 standing or 50 seated.

The Hotel Britomart’s general manager Clinton Farley believes the world may be on the cusp of sustainability awareness translating to large-scale changes in consumer behaviour.

“There’s definitely a shift towards people looking at what a business does in their community or from a sustainable perspective.

“I think to some extent, though, a lot of consumers are still price focused. Sustainability is something consumers think they should be more focused on, but I think we’re still on the verge of them actually making a decision because of sustainability.

“Having said that, though, I think having the credentials we do have as New Zealand’s first and only 5 Green Star hotel, obviously, does assist us to convert some of our reservations from people who do place sustainability higher than cost.

“We don’t charge any more than any other hotel to come and stay with us even though some of our products may be a little bit more expensive than other cheaper imported products.”

He says he wants to see the hotel being more active in the community over the next year.

“I’d like to see some more focus in the community space. What are we doing locally, within the downtown community? Or what are we doing within our Auckland community to really start making an impact?

“I really believe in doing as much as do we can to support our community to improve and grow. That also helps our brand because people know that we’re not just that sustainable hotel in Auckland, but also that hotel that helps the community in the area.

“It’s that shift in thinking from thinking of the brand being outside the community to the brand being part of the community. We have a great little community in Britomart and we want to be more active within it.”