Clement Lebaupin, postgraduate student of hospitality management, attended the W Verbier summit and heard from the experts about one of the hottest themes affecting the hospitality industry.
Last Saturday Les Roches Bluche organized a free outing to W Verbier for all the students taking sustainability classes at school. I had the chance to get a ticket and joined the ride at 7:00 am on Saturday, in a bus full of students who wanted to learn more about sustainability, and W Verbier!
We arrived in the clouds, which created a mysterious atmosphere… We realized that we were at the right hotel only when the majestic “W” statue at the entrance of the hotel appeared through the fog.
The ambassadors of W Verbier warmly welcomed us, and we moved to the conference room to have a coffee and wait for the presentation. Excellent timing to meet people related to Hospitality or Sustainable development.
The conference was hosted by Verbier Institute, which was launched on 29th August and is dedicated to pioneer sustainability. Their objective is to address the impact that humans have on nature in the Verbier area, by creating a sustainability program to reduce carbon emissions.
The first part of the day was spent in presentations and discussions about the complex subject of sustainability. The President of the Commune de Bagnes, the area that includes Verbier, gave an introduction about the importance of sustainable development for local communities, followed by a speech by an international sustainability specialist, guru John Elkington. The main challenge for global success according to him? Changing people’s minds, from denial to real systematic change.
Then came the innovation forum, where Julia Groves (Trillion Fund), André Schneider (EPFL) and Aleyn Smith-Gillespie (Carbon Trust) joined Mr. Elkington on stage to share a discussion about Sustainability in Verbier. This conversation illustrated to the public just how complex it is to take into account all the different elements related to a sustainable, efficient program.
I had the chance to talk with Mr. Elkington about Chinese characters and their origin during the break, as we are both interested by this culture. I would have loved to talk more with him about how to develop sustainable programs in Hospitality in Asia, but it was time for the next workshop.
We had the choice between a presentation made by Alexandra Leclerc (Starwood), who introduced the sustainable development plan of the hotel chain, called Global Citizenship, and a workshop by Aleyn Smith-Gillespie (Carbon Trust) to introduce how to reach the Carbon Zero level, to make Verbier the first green ski resort in the world by 2025. I went to the Starwood presentation where I learned that Global Citizenship is a program to improve the sustainable footprint of Starwood on the planet, with two different branches: social responsibility, and sustainability. Their main objective in sustainability is the “30/20 by 20”, which means reducing the energy consumed in each room by 30% and the water used in each room by 20% for 2020 compared to 2009.
The conference ended with a speech by Mr. Per Arnoldi, a world-renowned artist who gave us an inspiring and illustrated talk about how to reach people with small details to make them understand the whole picture.
This was the end of the conference for the Les Roches students, and we had the chance to have our lunch at the modern Restaurant Arola, where a fresh and delicious buffet was waiting for us. After lunch we had the privilege of visiting that luxurious hotel with a young and dynamic W Insider, Monica Lopes, whose job is to provide memorable experiences to her guests.
I think that all the students really enjoyed their trip to Verbier. On the way back in the bus, my head was full of thoughts related to a better future thanks to sustainable development, and the magical world of W, which succeeded in making us dream for one day through its Wow experience.