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General Manager Richard Hatter:
How Hotel ICON is Leading
Hong Kong’s Sustainable Travel

INNOVATIONS

The general manager sheds light on his determination and passion in driving and sharing knowledge in sustainability in the hospitality industry


Below is an interview with the general manager:


Why does Hotel ICON pay such a huge emphasis on sustainability? 

As a teaching and research hotel owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hotel ICON has the mission and vision to lead the hospitality industry by example, especially on the sustainability front.

 

Relevance is the key, and to our guests, sustainability is of huge relevance. Customers around the globe are asking questions such as ‘Do you provide shark fin-free banquet menus? Do you use plastic straws? Do you use plastics in your room amenities? How do you handle your waste?’ They want definitive answers to problems, so we want them to know we hear them.

 

How to show that Hotel ICON is hearing them?

Since the inception in 2011, our hotel, which I consider as a ‘live hotel lab’, has implemented a series of sustainable initiatives, including the Asia’s largest indoor vertical garden designed by renowned French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc, Paperless check-in, the recycling of waste paper, metal cans and plastic bottles, and the introduction of shark fin-free banquet menus since the hotel’s grand opening; a partnership with Soap Cycling for used soap donation since 2013; the operation of Hong Kong’s first hotel-owned zero-emission Tesla electric limousine and electric shuttle bus fleet since 2015; and the first hotel in Hong Kong to champion the ORCA (Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative) technology that turns food waste into water in 2017. This year, Hotel ICON has moved up a notch in its creativity. It is the first hotel to launch The Impossible Burger outside the U.S. with an aim to introduce great taste, low environmental impact food in Hong Kong. Our hotel has also adopted bio-degradable bathroom amenities and packaging, as well as ended the customary serving of plastic straws. Guests are encouraged to bring their own reusable straws while paper straws and pasta straws will be provided upon request.

 

How does Hotel ICON maintain that level of creativity while keeping the guests happy?

Because Hotel ICON is a hotel of education, we take these questions very seriously. We study the questions carefully, we research broadly into the topics to come up with practical solutions, and then we continuously improve on these solutions. For example, we are the first hotel in Hong Kong to run trial with pasta straws. We want to let our guests experience the possibilities of sustainable living and dining. These pasta straws are not perfect yet, but we are always looking out for the next best thing and we do not shy away from innovative ideas.

 

Can you offer a takeaway for other hoteliers who are interested in green initiatives?

The takeaway is: almost 90% of the global travellers want to travel sustainably; millennials are double or even triple as likely to stay at a luxurious hotel that has successfully communicated its commitment in sustainability. It is not rocket science.

 

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