Google wants to help guests go green on their next hotel stay


The search engine’s new “eco-certification” offers everything you need to know to know how and where to book sustainably.

Amid all the volatility of working in the travel space over the past year and a half, I no longer thought anything could surprise me. This is wishful thinking of course, and when checking in at the W Aspen hotel this summer, when I was handed not one, but two single-use plastic water bottles, I was surprised, and not in this warm and fuzzy, checking into a new kind of luxury hotel.

When I peeked behind the plexiglass partition at the check-in counter and saw the hundreds of single-use plastic bottles available to guests throughout their stay – and I found four more single-use plastic water bottles waiting in my hotel room, my surprise turned to worry.

A portfolio member of Marriott Bonvoy – the hotel chain that has pledged to ban single-use plastic straws and toiletries by 2020 – also just announced this week that it plans to achieve zero emissions of gas by 2050, a major feat if it can accomplish it.

The W Hotel Aspen opened at the end of August 2019, in a destination whose sustainability practices and commitment to the environment are so deeply embedded in the culture here that one can’t help but feel like ask how this hotel could so miraculously miss the mark.

Of course, this is just one hotel among hundreds of thousands around the world that can still be improved. And while it might not be fair to shame just one plastic (it’s certainly not the only hotel brand guilty of what’s called greenwashing), I’m far from the only to be dismayed by hotels that do not offer the torch of sustainable development at a time when it could not be more vital.

According to a study conducted by earlier this year, 83% of travelers globally said not only did they think sustainable travel was essential, but 61% said the pandemic made them want to travel to more sustainable way in the future.. Almost half of those polled said they still believed that in 2021 there weren’t enough sustainable travel options available, with 53% admitting they were bored if the place they were staying prevented from being durable.

In an effort to make it easier for travelers to find sustainable hotels in the destination of their choice, Google this week launched a new feature that will “eco-certify” hotels that do the necessary work to be more sustainable.

In a blog post published by the search engine this week, Google said hotels labeled “eco-certified” must meet certain sustainability standards from independent organizations such as Green Key or EarthCheck. Hotels that meet their standards will sport an eco-certification badge in the form of a green leaf icon next to their name, according to Google.

Here is an example of an eco-certified hotel on Google:

Travelers will be able to independently monitor and evaluate the hotel’s specific sustainability efforts. All you have to do is click on the “About” tab to see a list of what this hotel is doing in terms of sustainability initiatives – from waste reduction efforts and energy efficiency to water conservation measures.

According to Google, the search engine works with hotels around the world, including independent hotels and chains like Hilton and Accor, to bring this information together and make it easily accessible to Google users. In order for a hotel to be eligible, each individual property will have its sustainability practices audited by a team of engineers, designers and researchers whose sole focus is travel sustainability.

While Google says it’s updates like these that will continue to help travelers around the world make more sustainable choices, it behooves us to actually use them.