PARKS Hospitality Holdings is one of Latin America’s biggest hotel developers. In particular, they’re finding interesting ways to use technology to achieve their sustainability goals. For example, the brand’s properties provide clean water systems using reverse osmosis filtration, automated temperature controls that regulate energy use within guestrooms, and recycles waste water. These are all steps towards its ultimate goal of creating smart, self-sufficient luxury destinations. To learn more about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, HT interviewed Charles El Mann-Fasja, CEO of Parks Hospitality Holdings.
Tell me about your company's sustainability goals and why achieving them are so important to you.
PHH is interested in long term successes so we’re making key investments in technology today that’ll pave the path towards hotels that are deemed smart buildings in the near future. Our focus is to create luxury destinations that are eco-friendly and self-sufficient, where we can see the long-term ROI from an operational perspective but also from an environmental one. This is important because we understand the challenges our planet is facing and how our industry plays such an important role in that space by either contributing to the problem or offering dynamic solutions that better serve our environmental needs. PHH believes it’s our responsibility, as developers in LATAM, to serve as pioneers for more efficient ways to create a vibrant hospitality offering that is long-term.
With that in mind, we’re aiming for all of our products to be completely self-sufficient in terms of energy consumption by 2026. By then, we hope to have the smallest carbon footprint possible, and we’re already implementing changes in our properties that support this goal. For instance, all PHH developed resorts are switching from plastic to glass and recycled products. We’re also investing in sustainable materials that are more costly up front but have better durability in the long term; for example, instead of using grand entrance doors made from industrial materials, we sourced local wood from green-certified suppliers providing doors that don’t require short-term replacement.
What type of technologies have you implemented to help you achieve these goals?
PHH has implemented clean water systems and energy control systems throughout its properties.
The clean water systems use reverse osmosis filtration that provide guests and staff with onsite filtered water. A separate filtration system for public spaces has also been added to properties, where non-drinking water is cleansed and then reused in hotel rooms (showers/baths/sinks).
Controlled energy consumption in a year-long tropical climate is a challenging goal to achieve yet it was a priority for PHH to serve as a blueprint to what hotels in this region should be prioritizing given the increasing tourism we’ve received year-over-year. PHH has implemented an automated temperature control system that regulates energy use in rooms, optimizing the output by considering when guests are in-suite and when they aren’t with the use of sensors that detect movement. The sensors can also detect temperature so the combined readings can trigger previously customized settings in A/C flow and artificial light to accommodate to guest preferences automatically.
Was it difficult to find and/or implement this technology? If so, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Yes and no. It was difficult to find this technology because when we conducted a market analysis to identify similar technologies used by our competitors, we were struck at the lack of findings with little to no offerings on the sustainability front. PHH has pioneered hotel development in the Quintana Roo region for more than a decade and so it was natural to spearhead sustainable technology application in our properties in a way that would serve as a blueprint to others but also in a way that would represent Mexico as a leader in developing technologies.
Following a pandemic that brought forth long-term supply shortages and extended delays, PHH pivoted sourcing strategies and decided to concentrate on Mexico as the main supplier for goods and services, including sustainable technologies. PHH went on to identify emerging sustainable tech in the region and proudly pushed forward a “Made in Mexico” model that could compete with leading hospitality sourcing markets across the globe.
How do you make guests aware of the ways you're trying to be more eco-friendly?
We are constantly in communication with our guests, from the moment they are in the booking process to check-out and guest experiences following their stay. We use these opportunities and various channels to consistently remind and promote our green initiatives. The onsite team is also trained in strategic messaging for end-users, to ensure they’re aware of our sustainable practices and how it’ll impact their stay, positively. In-room messaging is another common practice that relays information to guests. For instance, in-room messaging was provided when PHH resorts went from plastic water bottles to refillable glass containers. This was also the case when we transitioned to bulk amenity offerings instead of single-use plastic body care products, this was an opportunity to educate our travelers on our sustainability stance against single-use plastics and how this change would contribute to a larger goal.
What type of guest stays at your property and how do you know that they're interested in a hotel brand that cares about the environment?
PHH developed properties are targeting leisure and business travelers in the luxury sector. Understanding how traveler preferences have changed greatly influenced our long-term focus on sustainability. For instance, today’s traveler may consider shorter flights to reduce carbon emissions; a tropical oasis that provides plenty of outdoor amenities and programming; a heightened focus on wellness means that today’s traveler wants spaces that promote organic and local cuisine, goods, and experiences—all of this at an accessible price point.
Mexico is the ideal destination for all of this because of its proximity to the U.S, ease of access with over 150 flights to Cancun daily and when compared to similar destinations, costs are on the lower side—something that’ll prove especially important as the U.S. faces an imminent recession. We’re at the forefront of witnessing the post-pandemic traveler or better yet, the conscious traveler, and what kind of accommodations they’re prioritizing, and sustainable properties sit at the top of their list.