By The Nation
Early this year, the group finally eliminated single-use plastic in its hotel rooms and restaurant outlets and introduced paper shopping bags, and biodegradable takeaway containers and cutlery as well. In the rooms, plastic water bottles have been replaced with glass bottles, and wooden pens and toilet amenities such as shower caps, shaving razors, Q-tips and toothbrushes made from cornstarch, and natural toothpaste have been introduced. Additionally, both properties also use intelligent air-conditioning systems that automatically turn off the units when the doors to the huge balconies are open. Paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminium is separated, and either repurposed in some way, or sold for recycling.
Since it opened in 2011, the property in Chiang Mai has won much acclaim for its many initiatives to reduce the amount of waste it generates. All organic waste is either composted or turned into biochar (charcoal), which is mixed into the compost to make it richer and more nourishing for plants. This nutrient-rich compost is then used for resort’s lush landscaped gardens and grounds. It is also used in the ever-expanding vegetable and herb garden, a source for the delicious produce that the chefs and bartenders at the resort have come to rely on. The hotel also employs reusable woven bags instead of plastic garbage bags for waste collection, and vendors and suppliers are encouraged to deliver fresh vegetables and fruits in reusable string bags.
One of the most important initiatives that most guests may not even be aware of, is that the resort hired an internationally acclaimed mosquito expert to sustainably eliminate/limit mosquito breeding areas without the use of chemical sprays; fogging is now required just once a month. The hotel staff has further shared this knowledge and method with people living in the surrounding areas, thus broadening it into a community initiative.
“This involves us all, and the solution has to start with education. If we can change the mindset of a few people so that they adopt more sustainable practice in their daily lives, then all of us will benefit,” said Chris Stafford, chief operating officer of 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts.
“We are very pleased with the results so far, but there is still a lot to do. Our next objective is to eliminate individual plastic shampoo, conditioner and lotion containers. We need to find an option that ticks all the boxes, and that can take time,” added Anne Arrowsmith, the general manager of 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai.
Down in Bangkok, the sister property 137 Pillars Suites & Residences has also followed with environmentally friendly initiatives of its own. To conserve electricity, LED lights are used throughout the property, while an advanced Heat Pump System designed to save energy keeps the hotel cool all day. Room keycards have a green function that control the power used when no one is in the room, while motion detectors automatically turn off unneeded lights. Water is conserved through a two-step toilet flushing system, the high-tech sprinkler system in the gardens and an innovative pool treatment system.
“As a luxury hotel, our clients want to know that we are doing as much as we can to ensure that their stay is as sustainable as can be and our goal is to not only meet those expectations but to surpass them,” said Bjorn Richardson, general manager of 137 Pillars Suites & Residences.