September 25, 2012
Cape Town’s Peninsula Hotel’s Chris Godenir discusses eco-friendly practices
Fazielah Williams has lived in and loved her Mother City since birth. Having lived all over the Peninsula during her childhood, she now calls the picturesque City Bowl home and likes nothing more than watching the sun set over Table Bay from the window of her apartment.
A lover of the arts and proud Cape Town fanatic, Fazielah began her writing career by spending many hours as a child conjuring fantastical stories that featured independent heroines from faraway lands who saved the Prince instead. This Capetonian princess has enjoyed stints as a magical arts PRO and TV publicist before finding her calling as a travel writer.
When not waxing lyrical about the Fairest Cape’s most loved attractions and activities and embarking on unexpected adventures, Fazielah can usually be found taking in a show at one of the City’s fabulous theatres.
The impressive Peninsula-All-Suite-Hotel, a Three Cities property in Sea Point, is the epitome of luxurious accommodation in a beautiful setting but it prides itself on caring for its environment and hometown, Cape Town too.
From beach-cleaning drives on Mandela Day to planting trees on Arbour Day, the hotel’s staff members regularly give back to their community.
In honour of World Tourism Day on September 27 and its theme, Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development, we chatted to Chris Godenir, Three Cities’ "manager of soul", about running an eco-friendly hotel and why he loves Cape Town.
What is the hotel’s sustainable tourism practice ethos?
At the Peninsula our ethos is to be responsible – we have a culture of total empowerment and ensure that our team is involved in all decision-making where it is practically possible. The Peninsula has adopted and implemented all government legislation and embraces BEE, OHS, CSI, labour legislation for the intent that they were created. We genuinely believe that we will build a great sustainable business by applying good environmental practices; assisting in the development of communities and building a workforce that is fully involved. After 21 years we are still going strong so we must be doing something right.
How does this translate to the day-to-day running of the hotel?
We have a strong Equity Committee which controls our CSI plan. Our other elected committees – Training, Health and Safety and the Green Team – also meet regularly. Our Performance Management System forms the basis of good communication and an objective setting whilst understanding the aspirations of each and every employee. To encourage the use of technology, we have developed the staff rest canteen into an internet café – where access to the internet is free of charge to staff members. We have also created e-mail addresses and given our staff flash discs to be able to download and save information. Management on the various levels are responsible for making decisions and are held accountable. Our company values are fun, flexibility, commitment, communication, honesty and teamwork. These have been selected by the team and need to be lived and not preached.
Which eco-friendly awards has the hotel received for its green endeavours?
• Responsible Tourism Pilot Project Member, City of Cape Town 2012
• Gold Graded Heritage Property 2011/2012
• Imvelo Finalist Most Empowered Tourism Business 2009
• Imvelo Finalist for Best Single Resource Management Programme-Waste 2008
What has the visitor’s response to your green-friendly activities been like?
Our guests are starting to expect that codes of good practice in responsible tourism are a standard at The Peninsula and this is the single most motivating factor in sustaining our ethos. It also gives us a competitive advantage in an age where there is a great deal of choice as many of our guests will make their final decision on where to stay based on our standards.
Why do you #LoveCapeTown?
Having lived all over the world, I choose to make Cape Town my home because of its fantastic energy. Nowhere else do I feel as comfortable or as positive about the future. There is a great balance of culture, environment, creed and business in this city. I am proud to live and work in Cape Town.
What are your five top green activities in Cape Town?
Beach Clean-ups, waste recycling programme, implementing LED lighting throughout the property (with a capital cost of R300 000), involvement in a Pilot Project Member in Responsible Tourism for Cape Town, and finally developing a green culture within my team that is taken home into their community and shared amongst all. The list goes on…