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Behind the scenes at London’s greenest hotel.

by Rajul on September 25, 2009

The Cavendish has been a "green pioneer" of the London hotel scene

The Cavendish is the London hotel scene's "green pioneer"

We recently featured the Cavendish Hotel on Jermyn Street as London’s most environmentally-conscious hotel, an accolade granted by the Visit Britain Green Tourism scheme through its much-coveted Gold Award.

The hotel has won similar awards including the Icarus Environmental Award and is also a member of the Considerate Hoteliers Association.

So I recently visited the hotel to personally meet management, to explore the substance behind its green credentials.  I also wanted to see if being green is good for business.  What I learned in fact made me a bit angry.

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Who says that you can't be hip and stylish while being green?

Who says you can't be hip and green at the same time?

What I discovered at the Cavendish Hotel helped to shatter some myths.

In fact, I left my meeting feeling somewhat piqued that many other hotels – particularly the large chains – are not doing a lot more to be green.

I met Mr Peter Caddy who leads the hotel’s green project.  I started by asking about guest feedback on the hotel’s environmentalism.

As he started to speak, I quickly realised how lame the excuses used by other hotels NOT to invest in green initiatives are beginning to sound:

  • Guests do NOT perceive “green” as “cheap”.  For example, at the Cavendish they have motion-controlled lighting in the hotel’s corridors which has not led to a single complaint.  Why don’t all hotels do this?
  • Being green is above all a mindset. This especially applies to purchasing.  All department heads consult the same spreadsheet and vie with each other to buy green, creating a virtuous circle.
  • Being green brings in new business.  The Cavendish’s occupancy has held up, despite the credit crunch and intense competition.  Many guests say they discovered the hotel due to its strong environmental stand.
  • Being green is costneutral.  This is truly inspiring.  Mr Caddy was adamant that you could manage costs while helping the environment.  One of the obvious savings is energy costs (more examples below).
The way in which environmental thinking is incorporated at the Cavendish in no way detracts from the guest experience

The Cavendish combines green thinking with a quality product

In short, Mr Caddy insisted that running a green hotel is more about innovation and creativity than money.

For example, when they first explored buying better breakfast pork direct from the farm (rather than mass suppliers), cost quotes were a lot higher.

But after they went ahead anyway, they not only found that guests appreciated the quality of the breakfast but it actually reduced total cost!

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This is because higher-quality foods show less shrinkage; people also tend to eat less because they’re richly flavoursome, hence the product volume purchased by the hotel – as well as wastage – actually went down.

So it’s an awesome “win-win” result.  It shows that green initiatives can end up being very sound business decisions in their own right.

Breakfast at the Cavendish is a treat worth savouring

Breakfast at the Cavendish is a treat worth savouring

I love this pragmatic and realistic approach.  Mr Caddy told me quite openly that they don’t implement everything just because it’s green.

Since they don’t take decisions only from wearing green-tinted spectacles, results are “sustainable” in both a business and environmental sense.

Green initiatives have also helped to attract staff who share the hotel’s eco-friendly values.  This helps the phenomenon to become self-sustaining.

Where some hotels balk at the prospect of higher short-term costs, the whole team at the Cavendish thinks harder to devise solutions.  It’s an admirable approach and I sincerely hope more hotels follow this lead.

But you shouldn’t stay at the Cavendish only because it’s green.  It also gets consistent TripAdvisor reviews, currently in London’s top 50 hotels.

I do also love the hotel’s location on Jermyn Street: within walking distance of London’s theatres, restaurants, nightlife and attractions.

If you want to visit Fortnum and Mason (across the road) or stay somewhere convenient for shopping in London then it’s an ideal choice.

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Please tell everyone you know about the Cavendish Hotel and ensure that it gets just reward for its environmental leadership.

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Photo credits: Cavendish Hotel.

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