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Interview: ENVI Lodges’ Noelle Homsy on the benefits of Beyond Green accreditation

Rigorous property inspections with more than 50 criteria are worth it as“consumers can now call out greenwashing” says Homsy

Imagining she would one day design her own little hotel on a Greek Island where she would retire, ENVI Lodges co-founder Noelle Homsy studied architecture and ended up building an unconventional career. Starting in architectural design and construction project management, she later handled claims, risk management and arbitration cases for real estate projects in the Middle East. But, all the while, she kept an eye open for her entry into the hospitality. Eventually, after touring through eco-luxury camps in southeast Asia, she landed a role in luxury hotel development with a focus on experiential lodging. Her passion for watching hotels come to life combined with her love for responsible tourism finally led her to launch ENVI Lodges.

Connecting Travel asked Homsy how she maintains ENVI Lodges’ green credentials and whether governments can do more to help the hotel sector achieve global sustainability goals.

CONNECTING TRAVEL: What are the pillars of ENVI Lodges?
NOELLE HOMSY: We’ve built our brand on seven sustainability pillars, so our entire identity is intricately linked with our commitment to sustainability. This means we never compromise on sustainability, and we carefully choosing who we welcome to the team and who we partner with, making sure our values are fully aligned.

We’re also part of the Beyond Green alliance, the world’s leading alliance of eco-hotels and resorts, and we adhere to their rigorous, globally recognised sustainability standards that comply with the UN´s 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

All our lodges will undergo periodic inspections to make sure we’re in compliance, based on more than 50 indicators

CT: What measures has ENVI Lodges taken to be environmentally friendly?
NH: Sustainability starts with the human first, specifically with our staff and with the local communities that host us. Sustainability measures are most effective when adopted by the people on the ground, whose livelihoods do not depend on the improper exploitation of resources. Every day, we are choosing partners and specialists across the board with sustainability in mind, whether for the design, development or operation of our lodges. We also plan to engage our guests and have them actively participate in the regenerative and sustainable practices at our lodges, which we hope they’ll learn and take home.

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CT: Do you think hotels or governments should set policy and sustainability targets within hotels?
NH: Government plays a major role in promoting sustainable development in general, through the creation of coherent cross-sectoral policies and legislation that regulate the way we utilise natural resources, avoid pollution, manage waste and protect ecosystems and human rights. At the same time, policies cannot be imposed from the top down without the buy-ins of hotels. Representatives, from hotel owners to operators, should sit on the same table with legislators to come up with a feasible phased action plan with clear targets and KPIs that can then be adopted by industry players. Obviously, this plan is easier for those of us starting fresh like ENVI Lodges, given that we have a clear focus on sustainability embedded in everything we do.

Right now, we are setting our own policies according to global standards with the guidance of our partners, and we’re hoping others do to

CT: Should government fund or reward sustainability targets in hospitality?
NH: While many investors choose sustainable investments purposefully for different reasons, others are still hesitant to commit to sustainable development because of the high upfront costs that could affect their ROIs in the short run. This is where government support is needed to alleviate these costs or reward investors to incentivise them to take steps towards green solutions that serve the government’s overall sustainability strategy.

CT: What is the current consumer sentiment towards sustainability?
NH: Many studies have been conducted to understand consumer behaviour when it comes to sustainable travel, one of which is Expedia’s recent study that surveyed 11,000 consumers in 11 countries. It found that that 90% of consumers look for sustainable options when traveling and that seven in 10 consumers have avoided a travel destination, transportation or accommodation option due to scepticism over its commitment to sustainable practices. This indicates that consumers are not only asking for sustainable options but have become sophisticated enough to call out greenwashing.

For more information, visit envilodges.com

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