At The Lodge at Blue Sky, a high-end resort property in Park City, Utah, sustainability isn’t just a core value – it has become a huge draw for younger travelers.
Luxury hotel properties – which often see trends before they cascade to the broader industry – are seeing new demands from their younger clientele for an authentic commitment to sustainable practices and experiences.
“We are seeing an increasing number of Gen Z and Millennial travelers that are asking a lot of deep and insightful questions about our commitment and how well we follow through on the things that we preach,” Jessica Cook, Director of Sales & Marketing for The Lodge at Blue Sky, told The Cool Down.
Those questions, she said, start with the basics – what kinds of sustainable practices do you have in place?
For them, that means using absolutely no single-use plastics.
Guests are given an insulated reusable bottle to use during their stay, which they can take home with them. The stone used to construct the buildings is sourced from a quarry just down the road, and their bath products are locally-sourced. They even have their own wastewater treatment facility that cleans water before it gets returned to the Earth.
Beyond the basics, Cook says, their guests are looking for memorable experiences that are fun and responsible – and even opportunities to learn something new.
Take their clay shooting adventure, which sounds like a Wild West, gun-slinging experience, but also uses biodegradable clay discs, instead of chemical-filled orange discs which are harmful to wildlife and the land, and ammunition with recyclable paper wads, instead of plastic wads.
The Lodge at Blue Sky is part of The Conscious Travel Foundation, a selective group of travel professionals that “helps people explore the world with purpose and reason, forming meaningful connections with the places they visit.” They see travel “as a force for good” – shifting industry practice as sustainability becomes the new luxury.
Many smaller properties around the world are aligning their values with new client expectations. Blue Apple in Colombia is a certified B-Corp that recycles 80% of its waste, uses recycled materials to create its glassware, light fixtures, and pathways, and has a team that is “entirely young, BIPOC, gay, female, didn’t finish high-school or a combination of the above.”
And the Fogo Island Inn in Canada features all locally-made furniture and buildings created using regenerative design principles, and the hotel reinvests 100% of operating surpluses into the community.
It’s a step beyond “eco-tourism” and “eco-hotels” – these efforts aren’t just marketing tactics, they are table stakes in getting new clients. And Cook believes it’s not just a trend but a shift that will trickle down.
“Eventually, these practices will become industry-wide, regardless of the price-point of the hotel,” Cook said, “Everybody is becoming so purpose-driven and so value-aware that it’s forced people to ask people the question, what is really important to me and how do I want to spend my time?”