UPDATE: Cape hotels outraged by 'fill up the tub' allegations

2017-10-25 14:54 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - Top hotels across Cape Town have come out in force against a Times Live column that accused the hotels of not adhering to the City of Cape Town's water restrictions over the peak holiday period. 

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. 

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

Traveller24 has since received a number of statements from Protea by Marriott Group, the Vineyard Hotel and the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in response to the allegations.

The Vinyard Hotel says it is saddened to be included in Eaton’s piece as the hotel has, over the last five years, made efforts to lower its water consumption and have placed a huge amount of effort into educating its staff and guests about the water shortage. 

"Over the last five years, the Vineyard Hotel has invested millions in water-saving initiatives as a responsible business committed to operating in a sustainable manner. 

"After a discussion with the mayor in February 2017, we brainstormed further measures to reduce our reliance on municipal water, which were instituted.

"As a commercial property, we have reduced our monthly water-usage by more than 30% - which is 10% more saving we have been asked to achieve compared to last year’s consumption figures.

"We see this as an ongoing process and will continue to seek ways to reduce this consumption at the Vineyard Hotel even further," says Roy Davies, General Manager for Vineyard Hotel. 

Adding on to this, Davies says it is true that the hotel has plugs available at reception, but this is for the elderly and other guests (including parents of infants) who are physically unable to use the showers. 

"Our reception staff knows to discuss the water crisis with guests before providing a plug and they appeal to our guests to keep water usage to a minimum. Every request for a plug is recorded so that we are able to fetch the plugs the next day," he adds.

"The water saving collateral we place in rooms is 'unmissable', it explains the water crisis and requests that short showers be used instead – and every room has a shower timer provided for this purpose." 

SEE: Cape water crisis: How tourists can ‘Save like a local’

According to Protea spokesperson, Sean Maher, Senior Regional Director, Protea Hotels by Marriott & African Pride Hotels, the Protea hotels shares the concern of Capetonians about the severe shortage of water affecting the city.  

"Hotels have implemented a number of initiatives geared to limit the use of water, and we have introduced a proactive approach to educating our guests about the situation so that they understand the severity of the problem and co-operate with the measures we have introduced to restrict water usage," says Maher.

"Protea Hotels by Marriott remains committed to strictly adhering to the city’s Level 5 restriction requirements for all commercial properties, to reduce their consumption by 20% compared to the previous year."

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

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, says each of its six hotels, namely, Radisson RED, Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Radisson Blu Le Vendome Hotel, Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands and Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore are actively participating in the water saving initiatives and are also taking every opportunity to educate and encourage guests to save water too.

“It is vital that both local and international guests in the city are made aware of our current extreme water crisis and follows regulations that have been put in place to save water, whenever and wherever possible,” says William McIntyre, Regional Director of Southern Africa for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

“In line with these regulations, our hotels have chosen to implement various water-saving measures to ensure that both staff and guests adhere to level 5 water restrictions.”

McIntyre says education is a key component of our water saving campaigns.

"Guests are informed of the water crisis at numerous touchpoints, upon arrival, with signage in the hotel lifts and rooms as a constant reminder," he adds.

"Additional communication is presented by TV displays in the hotels illustrating the importance of the hotel group’s goals such as 'Think Planet, Think Community and Think People' with a focus on awareness and requesting support to save water.”

How the hotel groups are playing their part to save water

Protea Marriott Group

All swimming pools to be covered. No potable water is being used to refill pools.
All guests advised about the crisis – verbally on check-in; in welcome letters; wherever possible when engaging with guests  (drivers, porters, room attendants, waitrons, etc)
Continuous communication with guests in hotel rooms and public areas to explain the severity of water crisis in Cape Town and tips on how to save water
Bottled water removed from guest rooms.
Reduction in bottled water available for conferences.
Reduction in bottled water for internal meetings.
All staff constantly advised, monitored re crisis.
No water to be used for cleaning of paving, garages, or any outside area.
Staff water usage in hotels to be at a minimum: kitchen, housekeeping.
No vehicles to be washed (include outsourced providers), unless waterless.
Incoming water pressure reduced.
Paper serviettes instead of linen. 
Reduce / eliminate all table linen if possible.
Bedroom linen only to be replaced every 3rd day.
Towel re-use hangers.
Move to water-wise laundry provider.
City of Cape Town session with H/O STAFF and GM’s of CT Hotels. GM’s initiating similar sessions on property.
All bath plugs removed.

Vineyard Hotel 

R5-million spent on water-saving initiatives over the past 5 years
654 hours devoted to water thirsty alien vegetation clearing in 2016
The hotel's basins all have aerators on the taps
Paper towels instead of hand towels in public lavatories reduce laundry load
Recycle laundry water, for first wash of the next load
Collect and use all unfinished bottled water for floor washing
Grey-water infrastructure is in place to facilitate the future supply of greywater to flush our toilets
Only use borehole irrigation for our gardens and swimming pools
Mulching and composting prevent soil evaporation
Water-wise air-conditioning chiller unit installed

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Since the commencement of the water crisis, Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront has showcased in their lobby, a prominent display, using bottles of mineral water to illustrate how much water can be saved by opting to shower instead of baths.

Implemented numerous initiatives to align themselves with The City of Cape Town’s water-saving strategy ensuring that guests are not unduly affected by the City of Cape Town’s water rationing.

The hotel has therefore secured sufficient water storage to provide water to guests during shortages.

Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront’s popular infinity pool was one of the first in the city to close to prevent evaporation and unnecessary use of water. - However, it will be reopened on 01 November, with seawater being utilised instead of fresh water.

The one-month-old Radisson RED Cape Town hotel spearheads all the water-saving initiatives with all water fixtures green leaf certified, contributing towards a reduction in water usage.  

The newly-built hotel has incorporated design elements that assist in water saving, including:

Eco flush on all toilets
No baths but rather showers which heat up in under six seconds
A climate control system that uses ocean water for heating and cooling processes

They have also included an “H20 Help" water menu which can be found in the key card sleeve and interactive TV’s in the hotel rooms, revealing many ways they can assist the hotel in saving water.

To encourage their guests to think water-consciously, Radisson RED Cape Town is incentivizing those who provide innovative water-saving ideas with a complimentary drink.

“Our hotels have replaced their taps and shower heads with aerators to reduce water flow, which significantly reduces water usage," says McIntyre. "To encourage guests to shower, they have removed the bath plugs from the rooms which can be requested from the front office. 

Added to this, McIntyre says as part of the Radisson Blu 'Just a Drop initiative, the hotel group is encouraging its guests to reuse their towels and for those staying longer than one night, to request a linen change when necessary, as opposed to clean linen being used every day. 

"As per the hotel’s standard procedures this will not exceed three days, says  McIntyre, adding that every drop counts and the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is committed to ensuring that its hotels save as much water as possible.

"With our guest’s support, we can truly make a difference,” he concludes. 

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