You may stay at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver for a single night, but you won’t find a bit of single-use plastic on the premises. The luxury hotel has eliminated the use of all non-essential single-use plastics from the guest journey. While many hotels throughout the world are working toward a similar goal, including the entirety of the Accor family of hotels, the Fairmont Pac Rim is the inaugural Fairmont property in North America to receive this designation. We chatted with Jens Moesker, RVP and GM of Fairmont Pacific Rim, who’s been an integral driver for this initiative to learn more. —Noa Nichol
Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Internationally raised and born into a family of hoteliers, I began my hospitality career in 1990 through a series of food and beverage management roles across Europe, Middle East and the United States before taking on my first GM role at Shangri-La Changchun, and after three years, took on the exciting challenge of GM for the opening of Shangri-La Villingili Resort & Spa in the Maldives. In 2011, I relocated to Canada to join the Shangri-la Toronto, before moving to the West Coast and joining Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. My family and I really enjoy the local lifestyle, embracing the city’s commitment to sustainability and preserving the environmental impacts for the health of our planet and our future generations.
We understand that Fairmont Pacific Rim has eliminated the use of all non-essential single-use plastics from the guest journey! What was the impetus for doing so, and when did the journey toward plastic free begin?
Our vision since the hotel’s single-use plastic-free journey began in 2018, has been to break new ground surrounding innovations in sustainability and a more sustainable future within our industry, and as a result, contribute a positive impact on our environmental footprint. Changing long-held industry practices has required creative solutions from all our staff, vendors and partners; this accolade is a true testament to their commitment and environmental stewardship, which has been demonstrated by all.
How many other Fairmont properties in North America have reached this goal? Are others working toward it?
We can proudly say that Fairmont Pacific Rim is the first Fairmont property in North America to reach this milestone as part of a larger initiative from parent company Accor: to remove all single-use plastics in the guest experience. Other Fairmont hotels in the Pacific Northwest region, along with Accor properties across North America and around the globe, are expected to reach a similar single-use plastic-free designation in the guest experience by the end of 2022.
What were the steps taken to, ultimately, reach this goal?
In 2018, we enlisted GreenStep Solutions Inc., to assist in the process of eliminating all single-use plastics throughout the property. Extensive audits of the hotel operations took place over a number of visits to the property which included reviewing single-use plastics practices and the purpose and frequency of uses, followed by the development of a comprehensive road-map and action plan. Our team worked closely with suppliers, partners and vendors to find solutions, offer alternatives and introduce such alternatives. We received the formal certification of Single-Use Plastic-Free in August 2022 as a result of a dedicated effort to find solutions based on the expert recommendations under the guidance and partnership of the GreenSteps team.
What are some of the plastic-free swaps we can expect to see when we check in for the night?
A few examples of the changes we’ve implemented in order to receive the plastic-free designation include:
- Plastic key cards have been replaced by reusable FSC certified cherry wood
- In-room bath amenity bottles have been replaced with large-format refillable bottles, in addition to environmentally friendly versions of razors, toothbrushes, cotton buds and shower caps
- A number of recyclable alternatives water bottles have replaced plastic bottles
- Reusable cloth laundry bags have replaced with single-use plastic bags
What has the positive impact been so far, on the environment? What do you expect the impact to be moving forward?
While this is an incredible step forward, we will continue our efforts in driving sustainability deeper into our business practices for the betterment of our guests, staff, community and planet. Some quantifiable examples of single-use plastics that have been replaced with environmentally friendly, reusable alternatives are as follows:
- 36,000 plastic key cards, used annually
- 198,700 small bath amenity bottles, used annually
- 600 kilograms of plastic water bottles, consumed per year
- 12,4500 plastic laundry bags, used annually
In alignment with our parent company Accor, we’re committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
How do you think this will attract new guests to the hotel? What will the benefit for guests or the guest experience be?
Our guest experience drives all that we do. Fairmont Pacific Rim is delighted to offer a holistic experience that serves the eco-conscious desires of our locals and visitors alike, all while providing the high level of service and amenities, which the hotel has become renowned for.
We talk about sustainable travel a lot; is this (plastic-free hotels) the new frontier?
Absolutely. Climate change and issues surrounding it have become a concrete reality. Hotel guests and employees are aware of the need to implement the changes necessary in order to better serve our planet, which begins with a desire to reduce the impacts associated with hotel operations. These associated efforts are becoming more and more apparent across the industry.
Back to the question above: what’s YOUR favorite swap, and why?
I would have to choose the FSC-certified cherry wood key cards. Hotel key cards are universally recognized all over the planet with the vast majority of hotels utilizing them. I find that the surprising looks on our guest faces when we hand over the wooden key card speaks volumes. The number of comments we receive is really quite astounding and shows that an everyday usable product can most definitely be rethought.
September 29th, 2022 at 2:23 pm
All of the hospitality industry should follow Jens Moesker lead, this is awesome!