Beachcomber has pursued for more than 25 years a corporate citizenship policy focused on protecting and developing its natural and social environment. With regard to the environment, our main themes are energy, water, waste management, and biodiversity. On the social level, we support integration in the socio-economic mainstream of vulnerable groups (young people, craftworkers) and community development in the areas surrounding our hotels and Head Office.
This effort should be recognized towards the end of 2017 through certification from EarthCheck, one of the most widely used environmental and social management systems in the tourism and travel industry; the initiative has been launched on a pilot basis at Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa and Dinarobin Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa and the Head Office, and will be extended to all the hotels within the Beachcomber collection.
A major strategy for achieving this objective is through education and raising awareness among all employees and guests about the impact of their behaviour on the environmental and social projects of the Group.
The eco-citizen initiative of Beachcomber takes on even greater significance since the sensible use and management of natural resources and energy sources has become a critical challenge in the fight against global warming, which affects the whole planet, and particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Mauritius.
Beachcomber understood that very early on, at a time when such issues were not yet a hot topic or a priority. As early as the 1980s and 1990s, the Group was the first in Mauritius to implement systems and technologies aimed at promoting best practices in energy and natural resources (especially water) saving through the installation of water treatment plants and chilled water systems for air conditioning. Significant cost savings are also delivered since hotels are known for their high energy and water consumption.
Today more than ever, the aim is to minimise the energy footprint, improve air quality and ultimately look to renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels.
Beachcomber hotels already have a good energy performance, as demonstrated by their annual energy intensity index of 164.12 kWh/m2.
Energy Consumption Management
Hotels are by definition energy-intensive operations. Our efforts are therefore focused on improving energy efficiency and reducing energy usage within our properties to reduce the environmental impact and energy bills. The average annual energy intensity of our hotels currently amounts to 164.12 kWh/m compared to an annual average of 261.74 kWh/m² in the United States, according to a study on resort-type hotels conducted by Cornell University. We use these indices as our energy performance benchmarks.
In 2008, the Group has thus initiated a programme for the phased replacement of chilled water systems in its hotels. The programme started in 2010 at Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa with the replacement of existing equipment by more energy-efficient solutions. This has required a total investment of more than Rs 97.6 million and generated savings as follows:
- 11,489,742 kWh less electricity than ‘conventional’ systems
- 9,904 metric tonnes less of CO2 released into the atmosphere
This new generation of equipment not only contributes to improving the overall energy efficiency, but also to lowering the electricity bill: for example, these new chillers have led to annual savings of Rs 9.8 million for Trou aux Biches Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa alone.
Low-energy lights and LED lamps are used throughout our properties, reducing by more than 80% the power consumption for lighting and leading to savings on energy used for air conditioning. LED lamps have an average life span of 30,000 hours and have a low heat output compared to halogen or incandescent lamps.
For example, LED lamps account for 80% of the lighting at Trou aux Biches since 2010.
Likewise, the installation of occupancy sensor lighting in hotel rooms since 2012 has allowed overall savings of 30% on cooling costs, which represent on average 45% of a hotel’s total energy cost. The installation of this technology at the Head Office has been equally effective.
A system allowing heat recovery from cold room compressors to produce hot water has also been implemented in most of our hotels with an excellent return on investment and a significant impact on carbon dioxide emissions. The water is then used in the kitchens as a by-product of refrigeration, thus avoiding the consumption of an equal volume of fossil fuel to produce hot water.
Other measures include the use of a micro load shedding system, which limits the use of electricity at any time according to a predetermined set point, thus avoiding costly energy peaks. It allows for better energy-use management while ensuring smooth functioning of a hotel. The system has delivered excellent results since its installation in 2005 in the main kitchen of Le Victoria Hotel, then in the kitchens of Plaisance Catering and Trou aux Biches and now throughout Shandrani Resort & Spa.
Extensive use of variable speed drives together with increasingly sophisticated control systems has led to considerable electricity and water savings in recent years. They are now used in areas ranging from cold room compressor capacity control to drinking water and chilled water distribution pump pressure control, kitchen hood exhaust fan control and the control of dissolved oxygen levels in wastewater treatment plants. These technologies will gradually be extended to all hotels within the Group.
Finally, the conversion of diesel boilers to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), in partnership with Total, should ultimately have a positive impact on the environment, LPG being much cleaner than diesel.
Solar Energy Investment
Beachcomber is genuinely interested to invest in solar energy. The ultimate goal is to replace fossil fuel-fired hot water boilers with solar thermal systems to save significant amounts of energy.
Le Mauricia was the first hotel in Mauritius to use this system in 2008. Royal Palm, Paradis, Dinarobin, Trou aux Biches, Sainte Anne and Royal Palm Marrakech are now equipped with similar systems.
Beachcomber currently owns the largest solar thermal field in the Indian Ocean with a total of more than 3,500m² of solar panels. These investments allow us to provide hot water for guests at no charge in summer and at little cost during the rest of the year.
The installation of solar panels to provide domestic hot water since 2007 has allowed us to save:
- 1,040 metric tonnes of CO2 which have not been released into the atmosphere
- 1,392.47 metric tonnes of LPG
- 331,230 litres of diesel
Studies have been conducted in view of the installation on the roofs of our existing hotels of a total of 6,000m² of photovoltaic panels, representing a total installed capacity of 1MW and an estimated generating capacity of 1,447,500kWh annually.
Application for installation permits have recently been submitted to the Central Electricity Board with a view to starting a phased installation as from the second half of 2016.
Water resources are not limitless on an island. Beachcomber has long acknowledged the need to protect these resources and the fact that hotels are large consumers of water, and has taken a number of concrete measures to address the situation.
Each hotel has its own wastewater treatment plant. For example, Paradis and Dinarobin on Le Morne Peninsula have a shared wastewater treatment plant which cleans up 60% of the total daily volume of wastewater, i.e. between 450 and 600m³. The treated water is used for irrigating the gardens and the 18-hole golf course. The same principle is applied in all the hotels of the Group. With the installation of water treatment plants and the re-use of the treated water for irrigation and washing, our annual water consumption has been reduced by 448,950m³.
Minimizing Water Consumption
All water taps and showers in the hotels of the Group have been fitted with flow regulators and aerators, leading to a 50% reduction in water consumption without affecting guest comfort. The Group has also implemented a policy to raise awareness among guests about the proper use of water due to its scarcity through stickers and information sheets placed in the rooms.
The installation of water quality controllers in swimming pools has helped reduce the volume of water used for filter backwashing as well as reduce chlorine and acid consumption. The pools are therefore much cleaner for guests and their operation is more cost-efficient.
It is also increasingly evident that the water situation in Mauritius is not improving with the growing number of users and rainwater as the only source of supply. Water stress will increase in the coming years with a direct impact on hotels. This entails finding alternative solutions, including seawater desalination, which is being increasingly used worldwide, especially in coastal areas.
In 2002, Beachcomber has invested in a desalination plant at Sainte Anne in the Seychelles, and has added a new plant with a daily capacity of 300m³ a few years later.
In Mauritius, a first desalination plant was built on Le Morne Peninsula in 2007. The plant has a daily production capacity of 800m³, providing for all the water requirements of Dinarobin and Paradis. Approximately 650m³ of water are used for domestic purposes and consumption, and 150m³ for irrigating the gardens and golf course.
Le Morne Peninsula currently has a daily desalination capacity of 1,600m³, particularly for golf course irrigation. Finally, Trou aux Biches has also achieved 60% self-sufficiency following the installation of a desalination plant in 2011. The seawater desalination plants at Paradis, Dinarobin and Trou aux Biches save us from drawing off 638,750m³ of water from the national water system every year.
To reduce the pressure created by hotels on drinking water supply to the population, all hotels will probably have to be equipped with desalination plants in the near future. This will require significant investment but will supply guests with very good quality water while reducing the impact on the local community.
A Waste Management System has been introduced at Paradis and Dinarobin in collaboration with the South African company, Don’t Waste. This system has allowed the two hotels to optimize their waste collection process with at-source waste sorting and optimum distribution of recoverable materials to recycling subcontractors. Green waste is shredded at the hotels to reduce their volume by more than half and thus reduce the number of trucks required for their disposal.
The benefits of this partnership are both direct – decrease the overall cost of waste removal, traceability of recyclable materials, reduction in the traffic of trucks in the two hotels – and indirect: impact on the carbon emissions thanks to the resulting reduction in the number of journeys made by trucks, improvement of the image of two hotels through a clear and well-defined recycling policy.
This pilot project has been such a success that we are considering extending it to the other hotels of the Group, in collaboration with Don’t Waste.
Beachcomber hotels try to plant as many endemic species as possible in their gardens to help preserve local plants, but also animal biodiversity through maintaining a suitable habitat for indigenous animals. Some hotels also plan to dedicate parts of their gardens to growing endemic species and use these areas for ecotourism.
In addition, the EarthCheck certification will ensure controlled pesticide use, which will have a beneficial effect on biodiversity by limiting the impact of these chemicals on indigenous species.