Where to stay… luxury ‘green’ hotels in Dubai

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Madinat Jumeirah on an unusually damp and rainy day

An obvious way of ensuring your holiday leaves a small footprint is to choose your accommodation carefully, with the environment in mind. Fortunately a number of establishments in Dubai have an in-house environmental management system or have chosen an environmental certification system such as Green Globe or ISO – options that require close monitoring, measurement and improvement.  

A major player in the hospitality sector in Dubai, the Jumeirah Group, has made a significant commitment to sustainability with a number of their hotels achieving certification. Leading the adoption of sustainable certification was Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the first hotel within the Group to embrace the Green Globe program in late 2011, and has made tremendous progress with year-on-year improvements and significant savings in terms of electricity and water consumption. Across the hotel many green initiatives have been implemented, such as the installation of motion sensors to automatically switch off lights and monitor air conditioner temperatures. All guest rooms are equipped with energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps, and the operational hours of external water features and non essential lighting has been reduced. The purchasing policy favours local and fair trade services and environmentally-friendly products, with packaging being reduced to a minimum.

The Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, a luxurious five-star property located in the heart of Dubai overlooking the historical Dubai Creek, is committed to social and environmental sustainability and has comprehensive sustainable management strategies.

‘ They operate a grey water facility that supplies water for irrigating the grounds and landscapes… ’

Substantial energy saving measures have been implemented throughout the hotel such as solar panels which are used exclusively for heating hot water – in 2014 electricity usage was reduced by 4.3%. LED bulbs are currently being installed which are 80% more efficient than existing fittings. They operate a grey water facility that supplies water for irrigating the grounds and landscapes – in 2014 water usage decreased by 11.3%. There has been a significant increase in the hotel’s recycling rate since their Green Globe certification – average increase for 2014 is at 270% compared with 2013 figures. The hotel segregates cardboard, paper, plastic and glass as well as general waste.

Aside from the environmental aspects, the hotel actively promotes the region’s vibrant art and cultural heritage. The Art Collection of 482 works by over 51 contemporary artists has a unique perspective on Middle Eastern Contemporary Art, and is playfully exhibited throughout the hotel and its grounds. From a social responsibility perspective, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel management and staff contribute to assisting local groups such Manzil, a non-profit education centre for children and young adults with special needs.

‘ Madinat Jumeirah, the first mixed-use hospitality destination in the world to achieve international Green Globe certification across its entire luxury complex… ’

Madinat Jumeirah resort in Dubai has recently been awarded international Green Globe certification across its entire luxury complex – the first mixed-use hospitality destination in the world to achieve this. Set on a private beach, Madinat Jumeirah resort, an authentic recreation of ancient Arabia, features two grand boutique hotels, Al Qasr and Mina A’Salam, 29 traditional summer houses in Dar Al Masyaf, extensive conference facilities, the Madinat Arena and the Souk Madinat.

The architecture and décor capture the natural beauty of the region, complimented by the interconnected waterways and landscaped gardens.

Getting around this vast resort is made easy with abras, golf buggies and walkways. The resort also showcases its natural flora and fauna with a nature trail experience for guests.

All three hotels are active in the area of waste management… having invested in a composting machine and a glass-crushing machine. Al Qasr became one of the first UAE properties to implement the Bokashi Digester Compost Programme. Around 2.1 tonnes of composted waste per month are used to fertilise the resort’s gardens. Each individual operating unit within the resort undergoes monthly monitoring and benchmarking to maximise performance and support further energy enhancement initiatives. Their ongoing energy management practices have shown a 14% annual saving since 2008.

Community initiatives include education and support programmes for special needs, breast cancer, tobacco and diabetes. The resort has a strong focus on training, with its 3,000-plus employees all receiving environmental awareness and on-the-job waste management training. Souk Madinat, which in itself represents the respect of the local architecture, is also the venue for a weekly farmer’s market targeting the local community as well as in-house guests.

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Jumeirah Group Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project turtles being released – pic © Jumeirah Group

The Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, one of its flagship initiatives, has seen the release of over 700 rehabilitated turtles back into their natural habitat over the last 10 years where, after initial treatment at the Burj Al Arab aquarium, they are accommodated at the Mina A’Salam rehabilitation pen prior to release. The project, launched in 2004, closely collaborates with the Dubai Wildlife Protection Office, Central Veterinary Research Laboratory and a team of specialized veterinarians –many of the released turtles are fitted with satellite tags to allow marine biologists further insight into their migratory patterns.

‘ …many of the released turtles are fitted with satellite tags to allow marine biologists further insight into their migratory patterns ’

The iconic Burj Al Arab, designed to resemble a billowing sail and stands at a height of 321 meters, is one of the most photographed structures in the world and has been consistently voted the world’s most luxurious hotel.Even with its 202 luxury suites with rain shower and Jacuzzi, as well as six restaurants and conference and banqueting venues, the hotel impressed in its recent Green Globe audit, excelling in water usage reduction, grey water recycling, and in managing its energy output and carbon footprint.

Other Jumeirah Group properties that have achieved Green Globe certification include: Jumeirah Beach Hotel with its pristine private beaches and expansive views of the Arabian gulf; the Ottoman era inspired Jumeirah Zabeel Saray located on the western crescent of the Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Living-World Trade Centre Residence.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in Dubai adopted sustainability in 2010, with all their hotels now certified Green Globe.  In line with their philosophy to contribute to a positive future, the luxury Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach  identifies and promotes sustainable strategies and is proud of their low environmental footprint and an great CSR program – efforts that have ensured the awarding of Green Globe re-certification. Being true to their motto ‘Serving our Community is as important as serving our Guests’ the entire hotel team participates in the ‘Safe & Sound Pink Walkathon’ every year, an event that is part of the BurJuman’s Safe & Sound campaign, one of the most extensive breast cancer awareness programs in the Middle East. The registration fee goes towards further education and providing free mammograms and patient care for women in the U.A.E.

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Jebel Ali The Residence beach – pic © Jebel Ali Resorts

The Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa features two luxurious beachfront properties overlooking the Arabian Gulf.  In addition to the 800-metre palm-lined beach, spa and four swimming pools, private marina and popular golf course there are the extensive hotel gardens just waiting to be explored. They have won numerous awards and certifications, and have over a number of years demonstrated leadership and innovation in the fields of operational efficiency and responsible tourism practices.

‘ … they have won numerous awards and certifications, and over the years demonstrated leadership & innovation in the fields of operational efficiency and responsible tourism practices. ’

Fredrik Reinisch, General Manager at JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort is passionate about the environment and that is reflected across his team and throughout the resort grounds. One of the success stories is that of their aquaponics system – the revolutionary scheme for growing plants by fertilizing them with the waste water from fish. Aquaponic gardening is a most productive way to grow organic produce, while providing the added benefits of fresh fish as a safe, healthy source of protein. The onsite bio-garden produces a range of fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables for use within several dining outlets at the resort. To fund the garden the dirty oil from the resort’s kitchens is converted into diesel by an external company. The money generated is then used to buy tools and seeds, and pay the gardener.  Green technology being introduced to the resort includes a garbage compactor and a composting plant built to fertilise the bio-organic gardens which provide a pleasant green space where guests including children are invited to learn more about the food chain.  Following best practices while educating is a key aspect at this eco-friendly destination.

The Resort is involved in numerous community activities, as well as specialised conservation projects – one of which is the support of the EWS-WWF’s Marine Turtle Conservation Project.On an international level, Jebel Ali Hotels works with the ‘All as One’ charity, helping orphaned and destitute children in Sierra Leone with a loving home, education, medical care, and a chance for a better future.

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The Old Town Island & Souk Al Bahar alongside the Burj Lake

Built on the edge of Burj Lake, The Palace Downtown Dubai is a harmonious blend of Middle Eastern heritage and contemporary Dubai. Located on the Old Town Island, The Palace Downtown Dubai is directly connected with the Souk Al Bahar, facing The Dubai Fountain, the world’s tallest performing fountain, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and is just a stones throw away from The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination.

‘ … they have taken steps to ensure that their initiatives are in line with the UAE’s ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development… ’

Since its opening in 2007, this luxury property has adopted policies and initiatives to minimise its impact on the environment – they have taken significant steps to ensure that their initiatives are in line with the UAE’s ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development’ launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in 2012.

Whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel, self catering apartment or a guest house in Dubai’s OldTown, there are many options available for the discerning eco-traveller.  And with the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) working hard to promote sustainability within the tourism and hospitality sector the availability of ‘greener’ options is likely to increase.

words & pics – Tessa Buhrmann (unless indicated otherwise)

Check out the article in Responsible Traveller magazine

pg 28-36 Luxury inDubai

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