In an interview with Fabrice Moizan, General Manager of Hôtel Fouquet’s Barriere in Paris, we discussed the hotel’s longstanding commitment to nature and sustainable operations, which won them the 2013 World Saver Award by Condé Nast Traveler for environmental protection and preservation.
Tell me a little bit about the hotel's philosophy and approach to sustainability and preservation. Where did it come from, and how has it evolved over the years?
Designed in 2006, Hôtel Fouquet’s Barriere is a contemporary palace with a fundamental focus on sustainable development issues. Creator of “Dignified Luxury”, the hotel offers the possibility of living luxuriously while maintaining harmony with the environment, taking away nothing in terms of comfort from its customers. Since its opening, the hotel obtained the SA 8000 certification, a standard that focuses on corporate social responsibility, and ISO 14001 for its environmental commitment. Sustainability has always been part of the property's strategy and positioning throughout the years and more recently part of the Lucien Barrière Group's approach, which is the first French hospitality group to be ISO 14001 certified for its sustainability commitment.
What are some of the eco-friendly policies or practices currently in place, and what kind of impact are you having?
At Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière we are systematically sorting organic waste (food): we are currently recycling 14 tons of organic waste per month that is transformed by the company Bionerval into gas (heat) and also compost distributed to local farmers. The hotel recycles 41tons of paper and cardboard through the company Sepur. We equally recycle plastic and cork caps, cooking oil, plastic cups, light bulbs, batteries and glass.
The consumption of electrical power has been measured, controlled and reduced through the use of energy-saving elements, timers and dimmers, and using proper settings on the air conditioning units has already led to substantial energy-savings. Various modern technologies incorporated into the building contribute to thermal insulation and soundproofing and minimize the strain on natural resources: energy-saving bulbs are placed in all areas, and set to low intensities. Controlling water consumption is also a priority, and entails the use of flow reducers on all taps and toilet cisterns in the hotel. In addition, the option to define the wash frequency of the sheets, to systematically wash the bath towels or not, are among the sustainable services offered to the residents.
Our hotel was the first European hotel of its category to have carried out its carbon footprint assessment. This assessment, carried out both inclusive and exclusive of client transportation, is accompanied by a very ambitious carbon emission reduction target (-20%) by 2020. An action plan with very strict targets to be attained within precise time-limits has been implemented and relates in particular to energy, individual transportation and carriage of goods, input materials and services, as well as direct waste and recycling. This growing awareness stemming from the carbon footprint assessment has led the hotel to enter into a partnership with the Good Planet foundation which strives to raise public awareness and education vis-à-vis the environment. We furthermore offer our clients a service of hybrid taxi called NéoCab, a charging station for electric cars and electric bikes.
In addition in its 5 restaurants, the hotel favors offering regional, natural and organic products, or those supplied through fair trade channels. These products are available on all of its menus which specify their regional or international origin. In all of its services, the hotel offers an "eco-citizen" champagne produced by the house of Pommery: "Pop Earth". This environmentally-designed champagne is derived from sustainable farming, its label is made from recycled paper, the glue is solvent-free and the bottle contains 30% less glass. With Pascal Hamour, the hotel offers its clients a new, totally organic tea selection. The sugar served with these teas is purchased through fair trade and packed in biodegradable bags. Dilmah tea (ethical tea) is also available in most of our restaurants.
Which of these efforts are you most proud of?
It would definitely be the Fouquet's Harvest project. The first Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière grape harvest auction took place in 2009. The idea was to harvest grapes, put the harvest up for auction, and use the proceeds to help fund replanting the forest in the Landes region of France and research into biodiversity. Around twenty hotel staff work with wine-grower Marie-Laure Lurton and her team, harvesting grapes grown on an estate endorsed by Terra Vitis. Each harvest raises an average 45,000 euros per year, financing the replanting of several hectares of forest. This initiative is renewed each year at the château de la Tour de Bessan. 47,000 euros (62,700 USD) were collected to fund reforestation of the Landes region in 2013 (240,200 USD in four years). 40 hectares were replanted following our charitable sponsorship projects (37,000 trees).
When you look at the broader landscape of hospitality today, do you sense a trend towards more sustainable operations?
Absolutely. Hospitality is not by essence a very sustainable field mainly due to the consumption of goods and energy so it has no option than to improve itself. In addition it is the guests that are in demand for such actions and improvements: a younger clientele that is more and more aware of the sustainability issues.
What are some of your sustainability goals moving forward, and which operational areas are ripe for improvement?
Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière has a very ambitious carbon emission reduction target of -20% by 2020. An action plan with very strict targets to be attained within precise time-limits has been implemented and relates in particular to energy, individual transportation and carriage of goods, input materials and services, as well as direct waste and recycling.
Finally, is doing good, good for business?
More and more of our guests are sensitive to sustainability and this we can measure for sure by reviewing the comments they leave on their satisfaction form. Around 30% of them declare that they chose to stay at the property partly because of its sustainability efforts.