Hotel Verde – Africa’s Greenest Hotel

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It is not often that I am impressed by a hotel’s green initiatives. A sign encouraging one to re-use ones towels is usually the extent of the initiative. Hotel Verde is unique in that it is the first hotel in Africa to be built with the environment in mind and offer guests carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing. It makes many claims and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Boasting advanced solar, wind and water-harvesting as well as water recycling technologies and other green features, the four-star Hotel Verde is recognised as Africa’s most environmentally-conscious hotel. It has won many awards worldwide therefore including the “Green Hotelier of 2015, Africa and the Middle East” award. Appropriately, Verde means “green” in Italian.

Hotel Verde

Hotel Verde, Photo credit: Hotel Verde

I welcomed the opportunity to visit the hotel on my recent trip to Cape Town. The green and purple hues of the facade and massive mosaic panel were easy to spot from Cape Town airport, a mere 400 metres away, and separated only by some wetlands. We drove into the parking lot but our German sedan was not entitled to the preferential parking which is reserved for environmentally friendly cars.

The energy-generating lifts transported us to the lobby where the upbeat colours, and conspicuous living wall caught our attention before we were welcomed by the friendly receptionist.

Hotel Verde lobby

Hotel Verde lobby

Artwork from local schools and communities is displayed throughout the hotel. Even the basement garage features work by graffiti artists. I was particularly impressed by the art created from old books and atlases and the river pebble installation attached to the ceiling that, when activated, mimics a meandering river.

Hotel Verde

Play area and book lounge with recycled art

A bit later, on entering our room, we were even more convinced that the hotel does not sacrifice any luxuries or comfort at the expense of eco-friendliness. The room was spacious and tastefully furnished. The children had an inter-leading room. Welcome gifts awaited us in the form of Hotel Verde t-shirts for the children and solar-powered torches for us. Of course, the children wanted those as well. The mini-bars were stocked with complimentary refreshments. Fresh milk for hot beverages was refrigerated in re-usable glass bottles to reduce waste packaging. Fluffy bathrobes and comfy slippers were also provided.

Hotel Verde room

Our room

The paperless environment meant that the directory of services and interactive room service menu were stored on the TV. I was also impressed to see that guests were given the option of requesting a Bible or a Quran, thereby recognising that we are a multi-faith rainbow nation. Guests are incentivised to go green by earning Verdinos (the hotel’s own currency) which can be redeemed against ones bill or at the restaurant. Some of the ways to earn Verdinos are by reusing towels, using the power-generating gym equipment and not using the air conditioner.

Interactive TV - Hotel Verde

Interactive TV

Hotel Verde recycling

Separate your trash

The next morning, at the buffet breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, we feasted on vegetables and herbs harvested directly from the hotels garden and enjoyed the honey made by the hotels own bees.  All other ingredients are responsibly sourced from local suppliers. Earth hour is celebrated at the hotel every Wednesday between 19h00 – 22h00. Non-essential lights and appliances are switched off in public areas and guests can enjoy dinner by candlelight and solar-powered jars. A specially selected menu that requires no electricity to produce is offered for the evening and pizzas are made in the traditional wood-fire oven.

Hotel Verde restaurant

Dining area

After breakfast, we were treated to a fascinating site tour where I was constantly wowed by the innovative mind-blowing techniques used by the hotel to reduce their carbon footprint. High school groups often come to the hotel for educational tours. The hotel may have cost more to build initially but the money it saves on water, energy and re-cycling is staggering.

Hotel Verde Mascot - The Rhino

Hotel Mascot – The Rhino

Here are some of its green highlights:

  • Advanced energy modelling is used to establish which rooms are the most energy efficient in each season, based on their locations and those rooms are allocated first.
  • The living wall in the lobby is a vertical garden which helps to cool and purify the area as well as embellish it.
Living Wall -Hotel Verde

Living Wall

  • The natural eco-pool uses living plants and organisms to clean it instead of chemicals.
  • There are indoor and outdoor gyms. The power-generating gym equipment transmits power back to the hotel and even tells you how much power you have generated.
  • A 230 metre jogging trail goes around the wetlands.
  • The rainwater recycling system collects rainwater, filters it and uses it outdoors.
  • Grey water from showers is filtered and sterilised then used to flush toilets.

You can read more about the hotel’s many green features here and here.

Hotel Verde eco-pool

The Eco-pool

There is a complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport and free Wi-fi throughout the building.

Hotel Verde Gardens and jogging trail

Gardens and jogging trail

I would definitely recommend a visit to this inspirational hotel even if it just to get a glimpse into the future of the hospitality industry. And be sure to ask for a site tour while you’re there. It’s a remarkably uplifting experience.

For more information, visit www.hotelverde.co.za.

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14 comments
kathy (from walkaboutwanderer.com)

I am a massively into recycling and energy saving so this is the hotel for me. I love everything about what you have written and it is so great to hear that they provide water in glass bottles. It is amazing how much plastic is being wasted in the world. I am a massive ‘say no to a plastic bag’ which gains me a lot of funny looks here in the Philippines where I am currently travelling.
Thank you for sharing this great hotel.

Reply
Allison

What a fantastic hotel! I know where I will be stating when I am next in Cape Town. I love that they even support sustainable cars. Go green!

Reply
    Sara

    Oh yes Allison. I wish more hotels could take a leaf out of their book and follow suit.

    Reply
LC

It’s encouraging to see more and more eco-conscious hotels springing up out of the woodwork, especially when, as you say, the extent most go to is to simply ask you to reuse your towels (and some will still rewash everyday, no matter if you pick them up or not!). Does the hotel actually have its own compost then, according to the signs on the rubbish bins? That would be aces.

Reply
    Sara

    According to the hotel, food waste is managed by a separate composting company, which removes and composts the food waste and sells it as its own product. A small portion of food waste is composted on site to provide the compost needed for the hotel’s gardens.

    Reply
Raymond Carroll

Excellent in-depth review. The Hotel Verde looks lovely. I try to be as environmentally friendly as I can be and dream often about living a life off-grid. The Hotel Verde with all its innovative eco-friendly features looks like the kind of place that I would very much enjoy. Great post. If I ever visit Cape Town I surely check it out. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Raymond. Unfortunately, as much as we have good intentions about being environmentally friendly, most hotels don’t give us the opportunity to do so. Fortunately, Hotel Verde does. Do check it out when you visit Cape Town.

    Reply
Ticker Eats The World

It’s really commendable when commercial spaces go green. It shows a lot of commitment towards nature and the planet and also in a way educates others – the guests – about what needs to be done. I like how you’ve covered all the different aspects and promoted the green initiative of the hotel. What really impressed me was that they didn’t hold back on the luxurious aspect either.

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Hendrik

Impressive and beautiful! I really like this concept. Combining nature and architecture is definitely something that should be common sense when it comes to build new estates and houses.
Funny, my impression was a bit more like the most colourful hotel of Africa (related to your first photos) 😀

Reply
Carlinn

I have always wanted to stay at Hotel Verde! Have heard great things about it from a lot of travelers!

Reply
Carlinn

I have always wanted to stay at Hotel Verde! Have heard great things about it from a lot of travelers!

Reply
Only By Land

There’s a lot of purple in hotel verde! That is an interesting motivation for the gym, to see how many rooms you can power. Another motivation are the verdinos, I like how they give you incentives to be green.

Reply
Mel I TravelingMel

That is so great! One of the things that bothers me about traveling (and I travel a lot) is how hard it can be to stick to my “green” principles. Sounds like the Verde makes that easy. And with style — what a great combination. That eco-pool is gorgeous. I hope more hotels follow suit.

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