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ITC Hotels set an example in Responsible Luxury

Not many hotels ensure world-class luxury in harmony with the environment and society. For ITC Hotels though, this is what they live by

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IMPACT FEATURE
August 20, 2020 | Updated 17:37 IST
ITC Hotels set an example in Responsible Luxury
Responsible Luxury bedrock of belief and commitment for ITC Hotels

Two simple words, though rarely found together, have become the bedrock of belief and commitment for ITC Hotels. Responsible Luxury. This is luxury most certainly, but luxury with a conscience.

ITC Hotels introduced this concept almost a decade ago and designed all its hotels and services around it. For guests here, luxury is as much about the things they see as about those that they cannot. For the chain, Responsible Luxury is all about delivering world class luxury experiences while addressing the needs of well-being and safety through responsible practices which are in harmony with the environment and society.

While offering unparalleled bespoke experiences to their discerning guests, ITC Hotels also sets new benchmarks in planet positivity. From using renewable energy and recycling solid waste, to conserving water, banishing single use plastic and reducing their carbon footprint at every step- ITC has been everything and more. On a broader canvas, ITC Hotels supports local artisans, while reviving and popularising ancient cuisines. It is actively involved in keeping alive our time-honoured rituals that promote well-being. It takes pride in becoming patrons of traditional music and theatre.

The authenticity and faithfulness to the hotel's location are perceptible in its architecture and decor, which celebrate India's artisans and their incomparable creations and are in harmony with the environment. For example, the ITC Maurya in New Delhi pays homage to the glorious Mauryan dynasty. Its lobby is reminiscent of a Chaitya, or a Buddhist prayer hall. In Chennai, when the ITC Grand Chola was being built, local artisans were brought in to create delicate hand carvings that were first seen in the times of the ancient Chola dynasty, dating back to the 3rd century BCE. Even the staff at ITC Hotels stays true to their roots. Each Responsible Luxury ambassador in ITC Sonar in Kolkata proudly wears the Baluchari sari, which has a history that goes back many centuries. At ITC Maratha in Mumbai, guests can see them dressed in the Paithani sari, the treasured possession of countless generations of women of the region.

ITC Hotels' fidelity to their cultural roots is equally matched by their concern for the planet. Their over-a-decade-long commitment towards sustainability has resulted in over 54% of the total electrical energy requirements being fulfilled through renewable energy, fresh water consumption being reduced by over 50% in the last 5 years and 100% waste water being treated and recycled or reused.

More than 99% of the solid waste generated in the hotels is segregated at source, then recycled and reused. Organic waste is converted into manure by Organic Waste Converters in several properties.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognised system to certify green buildings, and the Platinum rating is its highest certification. Each ITC Hotel has achieved the coveted LEED Platinum Certification. This is probably a global first, making ITC Hotels one of the only hospitality brands to have all its properties LEED Platinum certified.

From world leaders to corporate czars, guests at ITC Hotels have always applauded the company's quest to popularise Indian cuisines, reviving forgotten ingredients and processes and showcasing the incredible depth and vibrancy of regional fare. Globally acclaimed brands, from Bukhara and Dum Pukht to Dakshin and Avartana have come to exemplify the finest Indian culinary experiences. The company's chefs have travelled to the deepest interiors, met home cooks and local culinary artists to build a gastronomic map of the country. Their interest and expertise in global cuisines have also won plaudits from epicures.

Alongside this quest has been the company's endeavour to promote planet positivity in the culinary arena. In the hotels, over 40% of the consumables used are sourced locally. And this can often prove to be a challenge for the chefs, given the vast variety of cuisines they serve, each requiring special ingredients. But the chefs are equally up to the challenge. They use the strongest weapon in their armoury - innovation. They  whip up incredible dishes using local produce. They encourage and patronise local farmers and local food producers to supply products that match their requirements and quality standards. The results have been exhilarating.

So, why does ITC Hotels go to such lengths to source products locally? The immediate answer is: the food is fresher, tastier and healthier for their guests.

The larger picture tells them that this is best for the planet, in so many ways. When the food travels only a hundred miles instead of thousands, think of the fuel saved in transportation, think of the greenhouse emissions reduced, think of the plastic not used for packaging. There are further savings of fuel because cold storages and refrigerated trucks are not needed. Huge 'factory farms' can be replaced by small family farms, which are far less polluting and use healthier free range or pasture-grazing farming methods. They are also more likely to embrace organic farming - no polluting chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The benefits are immense.

Drinking water at ITC Hotels is purified on the premises using state-of-the-art technology that meet stringent global standards. It is supplied to the rooms in sterilised, reusable glass bottles, banishing plastic. This programme is called SunyaAqua - the water travels zero kilometres to reach the guests. Think of the savings in fuel emissions.

The hotels' chefs have developed innovative culinary creations to safeguard the health and well-being of their guests. The guiding principle is: caringly selected, mindfully prepared. The Zesty Morning collection aims to present superfoods for breakfast, bringing together India's forgotten heritage grains, free range and in-season produce. Sattva meals bring out the aesthetic and pure tones underlying traditional vegetarian creations. The WelcomMeal is a balanced combination of fibre, protein and carbohydrates, served for one diner that provides full nourishment without waste.

The ITC Hotels' team is deeply conscious of the fact that a good night's sleep is undeniably indispensable for their guests' well-being. Their Sleeep initiative is backed by extensive research and a holistic, sensitive approach to improving sleep quality. Guests are offered a Pillow Menu, a Sleeep ensemble comprising of eye masks, pillow mists, and stress reliving sprays along with special meals that promote deep, restful slumber. Decibel levels are monitored and controlled to optimum levels, while black out curtains ensure sound sleep.

With growing emphasis on the quality of air, ITC Maurya has elevated its Indoor Air Quality to levels which are equal to WHO standards, if not better. Various ITC Hotels are equipped with radiation harmonisers to mitigate the risks of electromagnetic radiation.

Guests can immerse themselves in the luxurious environs of Kaya Kalp - The Royal Spa. Inspired by the philosophy of the five great elements of nature and reviving age-old therapies from Indian scriptures, Kaya Kalp transcends conventional spa services. It offers holistic wellness remedies rooted in our culture that promote physical, mental and spiritual health.

The company has responded sensitively to the needs of their guests and associates during the Covid-19 pandemic. A new initiative called We Assure has been crafted, that looks after the health, well-being and safety of the hotels' guests and associates. This programme ensures that the hotels have clinically clean hygiene and safety standards which further enhance the existing cleaning protocols across ITC Hotels.

The guests' entire experience, from entering the car at the airport to check-in, reaching their room, dining and up till check-out has been transformed to match the company's new standards with re-engineered processes and digital solutions.

At ITC Hotels, the Namaste is not only a heartfelt welcome, it is a philosophy inspired by the beautiful thought enshrined in our ancient scriptures: 'Atithi Devo Bhava'. The guest is God. This ideal infuses the dynamics of the host and guest relationship. Namaste acknowledges the honour of being a host and to look after guests in the most responsible manner, without compromising the high standards of hospitality the guest has come to expect. It is a call from within that keeps Indian values alive, pure and timeless.

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