As a hospitality saying goes, the fanciest of facilities work like swans – gliding smoothly and effortlessly on the surface while paddling like crazy out of the line of fire. Behind the house – called BOH in technical jargon – the particularly fascinating eco-magic takes place. Get a glimpse into less glamorous water or waste management topics and the creepy work that goes into going green. Here’s a heads up to the heroes who invite us to see what they do and therefore really know firsthand what makes a friendlier, cleaner, more considerate business possible. Who would have thought that browsing utilities could be so exciting or insightful?
1. Hotels in the Cayuga Collection
Revealing eco-secrets in Central America
These luxury resorts have been eye-catching visitors for two decades. It might not sound dazzling, but feedback says these back-of-the-house tours of the kitchen, laundry, and maintenance facilities turn nosy Parkers into superfans. In the woodworking workshop on Isla Palenque in Panama, you can spy on fallen trees that are being made into furniture. In Costa Rica, Kura gives a rare unveiling of staff quarters. Arenas del Mar shows how avoiding solid waste completely trumps recycling. In Senda’s laundry area, housekeepers can demonstrate their environmentally friendly detergents and air drying of bed linen. The Hotel Aguas Claras is a study of purely local shopping. The Jicaro Island Lodge in Nicaragua is giving away gas produced by its pigs as electricity to a neighbor. “Nothing is taboo,” says Cayuga owner Hans Pfister. He has seen guests emerge from these tours who have learned what it really means to be sustainable and have more meaningful engagement with team members who are usually not in sight. “It really bit travelers from the sustainability bug.”
2. Heckfield House
From biodynamic planting to biomass systems
Home Farm set the standard when they made Heckfield Place the UK’s first luxury hotel with biodynamic status. Marvel at the most beautiful flower beds and Instagram-perfect poly tunnels destined for Skye Gyngell’s culinary creative genius, and discover why improving soil health is a top priority today. A look at the biomass energy center reveals a cleverer central heating system. It’s surprisingly satisfying to take a look behind the scenes of these machines. Also welcome is the property’s borehole, which pumps 70,000 liters of water a day. And if you’re really smart, you can have lunch or dinner at Hearth or Marle, the restaurants that best display the fruits of their organic growth.