Cape Water Crisis: Top hotels refute 'fill up the tub' allegations

2017-10-25 06:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - A Times Live column, alleging that some of Cape Town's hotels will not adhere to the City of Cape Town's water restrictions over the peak holiday period is causing quite a buzz. 

The article, written by Tom Eaton, alleges that some of Cape Town's well-known hotels are promising guests they can fill up the tub whenever they want and "loll like a manatee". 

Eaton pretended to be a tourist from Gauteng making a booking inquiry, calling to ask if the same restrictions that applies to residents would also apply to visitors.

According to Eaton's column hotels such as Table Bay Hotel, Cape Grace, Breakwater Lodge, Protea Fire and Ice, Protea Victoria Junction, Radisson Park Inn, Tsogo Sun Square, Protea Marriott in Mowbray and the Vineyard Hotel, "were the first 10 hotels that came up on Google" and Eaton proceeded to contact them. 

Traveller24 reached out to the parties involved, regarding the allegations but all parties refuted these allegations, saying the writer has an "agenda and wants to slander the brands mentioned." 

Protea by Marriott group told Traveller24 that it is investigating these allegations and will soon release a statement.

One hotel spokesperson who asked not to be named says the writer must have gotten the "misleading information from the receptionist as they often do not want to drive potential clients away".

MUST-SEE: Cape Water Crisis: Water-shedding is now a reality ahead of peak holiday season

While the "he-said-she-said" scenario created by the column is alarming, water restrictions remain in place for all visitors and residents in the drought-affected regions of the Western Cape. NB: No bathing!

Traveller24 recently reported that a number of Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) members have pledged to adhere to water-saving measures in Cape Town's drought.

This, following joint calls for its members in the Western Cape, and businesses alike, to become innovative when considering water-usage cutbacks in the province due to severe drought. 

SEE: Cape Town hospitality pledging to be Waterwise

According to FEDHASA Cape Chairperson, Jeff Rosenberg, establishments like Spier Farm Management and Resort in Stellenbosch, the Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport and Tsogo Sun Hotels in Cape Town are just a few of the FEDHASA Cape member establishments that have introduced viable water saving initiatives.

SEE: Water Crisis: Cape Hotels forced to get innovative

Tsogo Sun has reduced its water consumption by more than 17% over the past year - this under increased occupancy to boot.

SEE: Cape Water Crisis: 9 ways this hotel reduced its YOY consumption by 17%

Hotels playing their part to save water

Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport:

Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport has specifically been designed with keeping environmentally sustainable features in mind and since its inception in 2013, the hotel has been delivering on its promise to save water by:

Daily contribution:

Introducing a grey water recycling system.

Increasing educational signage throughout the hotel informing guests of the water crisis.
Encouraging shorter showers.
Enforcing the use of the half-flush buttons on all toilets. 

Innovative thinking:

While an on-going daily contribution goes a long way and has significantly assisted Hotel Verde in its water-saving efforts, the hotel constantly investigates other long-term, sustainable and innovative water-saving plans like: 
Installing low flow technology to save more water 
Investigating a Reverse Osmosis plant to reduce the hotel’s dependency on the municipal water supply

The overall impact: 

The hotel’s water-saving efforts have paid off and it achieved the double Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification specifically for: 

Using only 35% of water required by a hotel of the same size, saving 65% in total.

Smart campaigns: 

In an evolving digital world, where social media platforms reign, the hotel launched its #WaterwiseTourismCT campaign, calling on all industry role players to join the Twitter discussion, which focussed specifically on how the water crisis has impacted tourism in the province, the industry’s contribution to saving water and to create opportunities from the provincial disaster. 

Tsogo Sun Hotels, Cape Town:

Tsogo Sun Hotels, Cape Town are committed to making a significant contribution to conserve water and to join the rest of Cape Town in ensuring that the dams don't run dry, especially with the summer season fast approaching.

To date, Tsogo Sun reduced its water usage at its Cape Town hotels by nearly 300 000 litres a day in the last six months. 

Day-to-day efforts:

Removing bath plugs from bathrooms to discourage guests from taking a bath.
Encouraging shorter showers.
Changing bed linen on guest departure.
Installing water restrictors on shower heads.
Replacing linen serviettes with paper serviettes in the restaurant.
Issuing water saving tips to guests at check-in.
Water saving signage displayed in all public areas.

Work in progress:

Behind the scenes, hotel officials are hard at work brainstorming potential ideas that could further save water and in turn make a positive, lasting contribution to the water supply.

Alternative measures include:

Converting water cooled chillers to air cooled chillers.
Introducing push button taps in all staff areas.
Investigating desalination plants for the Southern Sun, the Cullinan and Southern Sun Waterfront.

Some advice to establishments:

The hotel group urges all establishments to place water conservation at the top of their priority list by:

Creating ongoing awareness on the crisis.
Identifying areas that use water, involving staff and brainstorming possible solutions to using less water.


Spier Farm Management and Resort: 

Ten years ago Spier began its water conservation journey, realising then that water is a scarce natural resource and developed its goals around waste water recycling and consumption.

The basics:

Communicating accurately with both staff and guests on the hotel’s water conscious journey.
Recycling 100% of water through a treatment plant.
Reusing recycled water in the hotel’s gardens and grounds. 

Novel ideas in the pipeline:

The team at Spier are regularly putting their heads together to ensure they live up to the hotel’s sustainability mandate established a decade ago, especially in the wake of the Western Cape drought. Ideas in the pipeline include: 

Installing a new pool water harvesting system, and until it’s up and running the hotel’s seven swimming pools will remain closed.
Investing in water from air machines to generate potable water and reduce the drinkable water from purifying machines.

Spier saves: 

The establishment’s management and staff believe water is a core business asset that requires innovation, education, and collaboration to save water.

Having implemented a number of water-savvy initiatives the hotel has saved 55% of water by enforcing its extra drought crisis efforts.