RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS: How to Choose a Hotel or Lodge
Marty von Neudegg, General Counsel, and Dave Butler, Director of Sustainability, Canadian Mountain Holidays, discuss some considerations travelers should bear in mind when choosing a hotel or lodge.
Marty von Neudegg joined Banff-based Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) in 1986 after a three-year stint behind a desk in a local law office. In addition to being General Counsel, Marty is also Director of Corporate Service, with responsibility for CMH’s sales and marketing and all pre-trip details that impact guests. Dave Butler jumped ship from the British Columbia provincial government in 1997 to join CMH. He now manages the company’s government relationships and land tenures. A registered professional biologist and forester, Dave also supervises the Second Nature program and is actively involved in staff training.
CMH was started in 1959 by Austrian mountain guide Hans Gmoser. The company founded Heli-Skiing in 1965 and Heli-Hiking in 1978. With eleven separate areas, including eight remote mountain lodges and three town-based areas, CMH is recognized globally as the premier operator of sustainable adventures in British Columbia. The company now offers a full spectrum of mountain skiing and hiking adventures, ranging in duration from three to seven days.
Don George: CMH’s lodges have been internationally recognized as a stellar example of how to do it right. In a nutshell, why is this — and what accomplishments are you most proud of?
Marty von Neudegg and Dave Butler: From the foundation set by our founder, Hans Gmoser, who believed that we had a moral and ethical responsibility to look after the special places we shared with our guests, we’ve always operated in a culture of stewardship. Our lodges have been built in locations which are sensitive to and respectful of the local environments. Often, these are locations which have already been affected by other users such as the forest industry.
Over time, our lodge systems have evolved to include the use of technology that allows us to reduce our use of energy, reduce our waste production, and reduce our use of water. Two great examples include:
Our Bugaboo lodge, which incorporates a green roof on a new extension to reduce our heating and cooling costs, and a sophisticated composting system which drastically reduces the waste that used to be incinerated or trucked to a land-fill.
Our Monashee lodge, which uses a natural wetland area as a third stage of waste treatment. This technology significantly reduces the release of heavy metals into local water-courses.
Knowing what you know about operating multiple lodges, what recommendations do you have for travelers who aspire to make the most informed choice in accommodations?
We suggest that travelers:
• look for companies that talk openly, in their promotional materials and web sites, about their commitment to a journey towards sustainability;
• look for specific examples of what those companies are doing to make this happen;
• look for commitments to regular reporting so that travelers know that the company is committed to constant and open improvement;
• when travelers get to the accommodation, look for actions which demonstrate the company’s commitment to their journey toward sustainability;
• search out company staff to see if they understand and are playing a role in this journey.
What resources – and role models — would you direct travelers and those in the industry toward to learn more about how they can lessen their impact on their journeys?
We also recommend The International Ecotourism Society.
In British Columbia, we’re working with tourism, government, academic and First Nations partners to build a sustainable tourism certification program (under the banner of ETHOS). This program, which will soon be operating in a pilot phase, will provide the opportunity for travelers to British Columbia to choose tourism companies that have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability.