Interview: Anton Hallström Hotel Director & Christina Norén Quality Manager.
At Best Western Plus Noble House Best Western Plus Noble House in Malmö, great investments are made in sustainability and social commitment, and climate thinking is deeply embedded in the entire hotel business; from the food served to the hotel laundry. VarUnik had a chat with Christina Norén, quality manager and Anton Hallström, hotel director who shares their experiences, practical sustainability changes and what the Corona pandemic has meant for their hotel operation.
The sustainability work at Best Western Plus Noble House in Malmö is solid and the employees have a high level of commitment. The hotel is Nordic Ecolabelled – which today is a necessity, says Anton Hallström, Hotel Director.
– It is a requirement from the industry and both customers and municipalities demand it. Sustainability work is good for the hotel and good for business, and brings proud employees who like to work with us, and at the same time it is a necessity for the environment, for us it is simply a matter of course!
In June 2019, Christina Norén started as quality manager at the hotel and made a deep dive into the sustainability work. Among other things, Christina did a review of the laundry and hired Ecolab, who did an audit. They reviewed the process and changed settings on the machines, which turned out to be successful. For example, a washing program setting rinsed off the stain removal liquid too early in the soaking program, which meant that stains were not removed properly. These updates led to big savings when at least 60% of the towels that previously had to be discarded were now reusable, which means reduced costs as they now buy fewer towels.
VarUnik’s pillow protectors have also been introduced on the pillows, which reduces the number of washes of the actual pillows. The hotel also has switched to slightly lighter bathrobes than before, which dry faster, weigh less, and take up less space. A practical example that makes a difference, says Christina, is to hang the bathmaths on the shower wall, instead of being placed on the toilet lid since the latter automatically ends up on the floors, which has meant that the amount of laundry has been reduced.
For the kitchen and breakfast, they have also bought a sorting trolley, which has made it possible to reduce the amount of combustible waste and gone from 5 pick-ups to 3 per week.
The hotel is good at guests involvement and the rooms are now moving away from all mini-packages, and the guest can actively choose whether they want daily cleaning or can consider skipping it. If so, the hotel donates SEK 30 to WWF, an alternative that about 10–20% of guests choose to do. The cleaning uses a minimum of chemicals, in fact there are only used in the bathroom and the hotel have bought a steam washing machine and use micro mops, says Christina.
When asked how interested the guests are in the hotel’s sustainability work, Anton answers that it is especially important in the procurements process and for the conference guests. They see a steady increased interest, and many have introduced a vegetarian option for their conference lunch meals.
And how has the hotel been affected by the corona pandemic? The situation is much better now than last spring, so we have good hopes for a recovery, says Christina. The Swedish business travelers are gradually coming back when people dare meeting up again. Occupancy rate is also improving even though they still lack their foreign guests. Luckily, we have quite a few small conference groups. The pandemic has of course led to new cleaning routines where great emphasis is placed on disinfecting all public areas, handles, elevator buttons, etc, which of course leads to increased costs in the long run.
As for Best Western Plus Noble House’s own environmental goals, they are clear and concise. They want to reduce their energy consumption, towel waste, water consumption and minimize the use of cleaning chemicals.
The hotel uses towels from the EcoKnit brand, an environmental textile that has a shorter drying time due to a mix of cotton and polyester. Christina says that the change of towels has led them to reduce the drying time by 80 minutes a day (based on 20 machines, 4 minutes per wash), which of course has a great effect on electricity consumption over time, which in turn reduces electricity costs.
In conclusion, Anton says that the hotel’s social commitment is also well developed. Today, they collaborate with a night hiking team in Malmö, which is a voluntary organization that provides security on the streets of Malmö at night. The organization stores its bicycles in the hotel garage and has the meeting point at the hotel. Yoga is also regularly arranged for both staff and guests and the hotel have its own Mascot which is sold to the guests, a small dog, where all the surplus goes to Bris and their work for children.
Tips and areas for improvement!
- Review the laundry to reduce textile waste
- Introduce quicker drying eco-friendly textiles environmental textiles
- Remove tealights and replace with rechargeable ones
- Serve smaller sizes of, for example, buns, croissants and use smaller plates to reduce food waste.
- Descale with vinegar instead of chemicals
- Introduce vegetarian menus.
- Offer paper tissues in the bathroom for makeup removal (instead of the usual terry towel).
- Involve and inform the guests about the sustainability work on the website, in the room and through other channels