Sustainability Showcase: The Westin Cape Town
In the heart of Cape Town’s foreshore with direct access to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, The Westin Cape Town is geared to the corporate traveller. And with 483 guest rooms and suites, 19 meeting facilities, business and leisure amenities, it’s well-equipped to handle South Africa’s business tourism demands.
Leon Meyer, The Westin Cape Town’s GM, believes that sustainability has become part of travellers’ expectations. “They want to be part of the story of sustainability at their chosen hotel. It’s no longer an added service for a hotel to embrace sustainable practices; they are now demanded by travellers,” he says. “We view sustainability as a requirement and have a plan, with no expiry date, towards which we are working.” To this end, the property has woven a sustainable ethos through each facet of its operations: “We’re reviewing our use of plastic, we embrace responsible disposal of waste, have installed a reverse osmosis plant and have our own rooftop garden.”
“Cape Town relies heavily on her natural beauty to draw tourism. The onus is on local businesses to protect and reduce their impact on the natural environment,” says Leon. When asked what advice he would give to other establishments that want to become more sustainable, he says that “Hotels need to understand sustainability is a requirement and their responsibility as a corporate. They need to have a strong plan in place, which runs indefinitely and not just for a year, towards which they are working. Sustainable practices can only benefit the customer and the hotel.”
Naturally, water conservation is a big deal for the Cape Town-based property. After a lengthy process of almost a year, and a capital cost of around R4.5 million (excluding operational costs), the property’s reverse osmosis plant is up and running. While the financial outlay might seem dauntingly large, Leon says that “when compared to the long term savings for both the hotel and the municipality, the funds have been well invested.”
The hotel currently uses a rotational pumping system that extracts approximately between 800 000 to 1 million litres of seepage water from its basement level per day, depending on the season. This seepage water is then processed through the reverse osmosis plant which is situated in the hotel’s basement area, where approximately 400 000 litres of potable water is produced daily. The use of the reverse osmosis plant in effect will save over 100 million litres of municipal water a year.
“It’s important to note that even though we’re extracting 1.2 million litres of seawater on average from the ocean per day, after the desalination process, the total litres of clean, usable water extracted will be significantly less,” says Leon.
The Westin Cape Town isn’t resting on its laurels, though, and still works hard to reduce its overall water consumption. Initiatives include the installation of hand sanitisers in bathrooms and encouraging guests to reuse towels. “We have reduced water pressure in the areas of the hotel where we could, and have temporarily removed the bath plugs in line with current water restrictions. The shower heads in guests’ rooms also reduce water consumption,” says Leon.
A large percentage of the waste stream of The Westin goes through a recycling sorting process whereby all grades/types of waste including paper, plastic, metals etc. are sorted daily and collected by various outsourced service providers. This also includes old cooking oil which is converted into bio fuel. Through the recycling process over 52.24 tons of waste material was diverted from landfill sites in 2018 alone.
The Westin’s rooftop garden operates in a fully-recyclable capacity, whereby an automated drip irrigation system collects excess water to be recycled through a pump. The 19th floor garden provides organically grown ingredients, adding another facet to the property’s wellness philosophy. “The rooftop garden serves as a great eco-friendly resource in the growing methods we practice, and provides nutritionally dense produce that we can control from a safety and quality perspective, which is a big part of our hotel wellness and responsible tourism movement,” says Leon.
The garden operates in a fully-recyclable capacity, whereby an automated drip irrigation system collects excess water to be recycled through a pump. The rooftop also boasts a small scale wormery where kitchen food waste is fed to the worms and the fertiliser produced is used to nourish the plants.
The next step for the rooftop is to add bee hives, with two major benefits – honey for the kitchens and restaurant, and a safe environment for the resident bees.
More about fanute
fanute is a specialist hospitality solutions company. We believe that by being innovative in our thinking and adventurous in our actions, we can provide valuable services to the market, and in just a small way, help to save our ailing planet.
We are not afraid of being first or in being the only player in a space – because we love starting with a blank piece of paper and designing our own future.
We’re obsessed with sustainability, simply, because we are all stewards of our environment – and for us this includes our beautiful land, our people and culture and our very scarce natural resources.
We help because our linen rental business drives scale in the short-term lettings industry, which means no more washing linen with domestic machines or walk-in laundromats, which consume huge amounts of water and energy.
And our near-waterless industrial laundry systems deliver meaningful savings of those same scarce resources, offering the only real innovation in laundry in over 60 years.
For more information, visit the fanute website.