10 Tough Questions to Ask Hotels

Credit: Agi Simoes





Do you want to book a hotel on your next trip that genuinely cares about people and planet? The easiest, quickest way to know if they do is to ask them questions yourself. We’ve suggested a few below to make the process easy.


Is your hotel ‘sustainable’? Does your hotel have a certified sustainability programme with independent audits?

If not, why not? If yes, please provide a brief annual sustainability report summary.


Does your hotel contribute to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

If not, why not? If yes, please provide details of your social responsibility initiatives. Are the results independently audited? You can see these goals below.


What is your hotel’s carbon footprint? Is your hotel carbon neutral?

Do you measure carbon using a CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) accredited carbon measurement tool? Do you offer any credible carbon offsetting programmes? More and more hotels are trying to be carbon neutral, offering programmes to offset the carbon emissions for both the hotel room and the flight you took to get to the hotel. Some are complimentary, some optional for travellers to buy, but if the hotel doesn’t offer either, you should wonder how green it is.


How does your hotel conserve energy?

Hotels with an energy efficiency plan that use energy efficient devices such as thermostats, appliances, lighting, timers and heat reflective windows use on average 26 per cent less energy than their non-green counterparts, according to a U.S. Green Building Council report. That number will rise if the hotel also uses renewable energy such as solar panels and electric cars and electric bikes, so be sure to ask about them too.


How does your hotel conserve water?

Lots of hotels have the standard ‘re-use your towels’ programme, but what about other tools, such as efficient water usage in the restaurant, low-flow shower heads, and rain water collection for outside gardening? Does the hotel serve filtered local water in glass containers, or do they still rely on plastic bottles? What is the average amount of water used by each guest?


What is your hotel’s waste management and recycling policies?

Do you have an in-house recycling program? Ask them to describe the life cycle of their plastic, paper, food, toxic waste and, if they use them, batteries from electric bikes and cars. Do you provide single use plastic straws, plastic stirring sticks, plastic covers for coffee/tea cups, plastic wraps on food, plastic bags? Do you provide drinks - water, sodas and juices - in single use plastic bottles?


Where does your hotel get its stuff from?

What’s the hotel’s supply chain policy? Are your suppliers sustainable and certified? Is any seafood served sustainably harvested and guaranteed safe from plastic pollution? If it has one, does the spa use local, natural products in its treatments, rather than shipping in expensive, often toxic products from around the world? What is the carbon footprint of products purchased?


Does your hotel support the local economy?

Does the hotel hire local staff and guides, or ship them in from somewhere else? Does the hotel’s restaurant use locally grown, organic and in-season food and locally made drinks whenever possible? Using local food and other products not only supports the local economy, but also helps to cut down on the carbon emissions associated with transportation.


Does your hotel support the local community?

Hotels that pay a living wage to local staff and support local communities give back to the destination. Ask them what percentage of employees and management are local citizens? What percentage of them are women, and are they paid equal salaries to men in similar positions? Do they support any local groups in need? What projects do they support to benefit the local community? Do they have a programme to prevent the exploitation and abuse of children?


What guest experiences does your hotel arrange to give One Day Back to host communities?

Giving ‘One Day Back’ to the local community of your chosen destination is an enriching experience that has the potential to be life-changing. Next time you book a holiday, email the hotel or resort and ask them for suggestions on how you could spend your ‘One Day Back’. Ask them to reach out to local charities and organisations, provide you with suggestions and make the arrangements for you.


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