Recently, I returned from a cruise through Europe. As always, I had a tough time separating work and leisure. I can't come into a port or city without resisting the impulse to stop by some of our hotels and visit some competitors. What struck me on this trip is how we can learn a lot from what Europe is doing to be more sustainable or "green."
One stop on the trip was the Zurich Marriott in Switzerland. When I arrived, the general manager took me to the rooftop, but not for the view -- although there was a great view up there. The GM introduced me to the 'Sweet Sustainability' program. The rooftop garden is home to around 860,000 bees, so this tour wasn't for the faint of heart. When they told me the number of bees, I asked if anyone had counted them recently. I was just kidding around but I really wonder how they knew! Today, I'm not sure they do know.
I learned that the 540 kilograms of honey produced by the bees each year are either given to our guests, used in the hotel's own recipes or sold in other Zurich shops. One dish features a honey-mustard sauce for the trout carpaccio and in another one, our rooftop honey is mixed with lemon to marinate a sweet corn-fed pollard. As you can tell, our team has been very creative in finding ways to use and distribute our homemade honey.
It seems that our hotels are 'bee happy' these days because of our Nobility of Nature program in China. which focuses on beekeeping also. There we use and sell honey produced in mountain villages of Sichuan Province at our Chinese hotels. Where it's appropriate, we've found that beekeeping is a great alternative to high-impact industries, like logging, that damage the environment.
Our European green efforts run the gamut. The London Heathrow Marriott Hotel just won a Green Tourism Gold Award for their on-site greenhouse, where they grow herbs and spices, like basil and tomatoes, and capture rainwater to water the plants. Our London engineers also had the terrific idea of constructing a small windmill to power the Marriott sign. I hope that windmill keeps on going, especially at night when the sign is on. That's a first in our industry. While the sign is our signature Marriott red, now you know, it's also something to do with green.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.
This post first appeared on MarriottOnTheMove.com.