The Green Spotlight - Sustainability in Focus at Araiya
Spotted on the premises of Araiya Calicut – Our first guest, the Indian Peacock. Photo by Jason Leung | Unsplash
As a hotelier, it feels unnatural to not integrate with our environs. My grandfather, Captain Nair, would always say that he was a gardener first and a hotelier second! Thanks to him, as children we enjoyed a blissful childhood surrounded by greenery and as adults learnt from his diktat to commit to green cover at every property.
At Araiya, sustainability has always been a critical driver of strategy, guiding our approach to development. From energy consumption to single-use plastics, construction to laundry, the natural environment is one of the first things we take into consideration when embarking upon a new project.
As our team looks at sustainability across all areas of the project, from the development stage of a hotel project, through to the day-to-day management and hotel operations, I thought I would share some of our key initiatives with you.
Sustainability Is ConstructiveGoing Local
The one area where a sustainable approach can achieve high impact is during the property development phase. In fact, sustainable practices play a key role during the design and construction of the hotel.
In sourcing local materials and using local labour, we bring our carbon footprint down to the bare minimum. We also try to reuse all excavated material, such as stone, gravel, wood, etc., in the construction itself. At our mountain resort in Palampur, all the excavated material from the mountainside was re-used in the building of the property.Optimizing natural elements
In locations such as Calicut in Kerala, where the resort is surrounded by bucolic beauty, an open-air lobby optimizes natural light and ventilation.Minimizing our ecological footprint
When we plan a site, we make it a point to be minimally invasive thereby making our ecological footprint as light as possible. In Himachal the gradient of the land helped create wide frames and broad vistas while in Kerala the natural undulations offered a chance to practice tactical landscape design, involving well-placed trees and earth berms made of excavated soil from the site, to create natural boundaries to define pathways and visually separate spaces.
The charm of the resort lies in its planning. At Araiya Calicut, ground story structures are well distributed across the site and nestled into the landscape thus minimizing building density and avoiding clusters of concentrated human activities.
Eco-friendly energyEnergy Saving Devices (ESDs)
Energy Saving Devices are literally a life-saver for us hoteliers and help create significant cost savings for our owners as well. They reduce the amount of energy consumed, can be universally applied to multiple appliances, and not only leave a low carbon footprint but also result in a significant cost reduction, which simply adds to the hotel’s profitability.
Water Is LifeLeveraging natural resources
One of the most important lessons that we have learned is that the beautiful environs of our properties often come with a natural source of water, such as a water table or a spring, which will endure for ages if it is tapped sustainably.
Palampur is one such example. We are privileged to have access to clear, fresh and clean Himalayan spring water running straight off from the Dhauladhar range! What more could we ask for? While in destinations such as Calicut and Ahmedabad, where the quantity of our groundwater is plentiful, bore-wells have been channelled to tap into this bounty.In-house bottling facility
Every Araiya hotel has its own reverse osmosis (RO) water plant and in-house bottling facility. We use flip-top bottles, which are re-usable after they are sterilized at our bottling unit. This way we not only reduce our carbon footprint by minimizing deliveries of mineral water, but also cut down dramatically on plastic bottle waste.
The price of buying water is multi-fold. Not only is it a financial cost to the company, but it also often comes at great cost to the planet. Bottling our own water gives us a triple bottom line advantage, as it benefits people, planet and profit!
Scrapping Single Use PlasticDoing away with single-use dispensers
When we conceptualized the Araiya brand, the entire team made a committed choice to eliminate as many single-use items as possible. Whether it’s the toiletries in our bathrooms or water bottles, we adopt as many reusable and recyclable items and practices in our day to day operations as possible.
One of the best examples of conscious consumption is the wall-mounted dispenser in every one of our bathrooms that is periodically refilled by our housekeepers.The quantitative and qualitative advantage
This way, not only do we eliminate the plastic dispensers, but it also allows us to bulk-buy a higher quality of vegan, sulphate-free and paraben-free toiletries that are customized for Araiya.
Back to RootsRecycling Organic Waste
Garbage composting is another major sustainability initiative. Organic waste is composted efficiently and then reused in our gardens and landscaped areas.Locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients
Our culinary aesthetic is based on locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients. Not only do they add to the flavour of the food, but the gastronomy of each destination lends itself enormously to the Araiya guest’s sense of place.
For example, in Palampur, Kangri Cuisine features prominently on our menu and celebrates the culinary heritage of the local community. It also cuts down on day-to-day transportation, food costs, and ensures that our ingredients are as fresh as possible, without using artificial preservatives.
In Palampur, many of our staff are native to the immediate area. Showcasing their Kangri cuisine (some of our recipes have been faithfully shared with us by their grandmothers and the ingredients may well be sourced from their family’s fields!) instils a tremendous sense of belonging and affiliation in being employed by a hotel that upholds their local culture and culinary heritage.
Save Our PlanetIn-room Messaging
Over and above our own operational initiatives at the back of the house, we also encourage our guests to be conscious travellers. Discreet in-room messaging encourages our guests to have shorter showers, reuse their towels and request a change in linen only if and when necessary.
Making our hotel operations sustainable is a very important cornerstone of our ethos and one that we have invested in heavily. I have no doubt that this facet of our philosophy alone will reap tremendous rewards in years to come.
A hotel that has a high sustainability benchmark is one that is built to last. Running an operationally sustainable hotel that supports the environment and the community is not only a matter of pride for us, but for all our partners as well. After all, great hospitality is a legacy — one that we hope to pass down to many generations to come.
Interested in Bird Watching?
By preserving the local flora and fauna, growing indigenous plants in our gardens, local species of birds, butterflies and bees added an element that is both natural and native to the place. The grand Indian Banyan on the Calicut University campus attracts frugivorous birds like Grey-fronted and Orange-fronted Green Pigeons, Lorikeet, Crimson throated Barbet and Blossom-headed Parakeet during the fruiting season while in Kangra Valley Rose Finches, Slaty headed Parakeets and Brahminy Starling can be spotted when the bamboo blooms.