Eco-responsibility: a top priority for Hôtel Château Laurier Québec

November 26, 2018 -
Le coffre aux trésors d'Hôtel Château Laurier Québec

Canada and Québec have both made commitments to sustainable development that call for us all to become more aware of how our behaviour affects the environment and what we can do about it.

Hôtel Château Laurier Québec joined the movement almost ten years ago now and established a policy for sustainable development to help guide its efforts.

RESPECT!

In many ways, sustainable development is a new way of defining values that have always been embraced by hotel management. Those values can be summed up in a single word: RESPECT. Respect for our customers, respect for our employees, respect for our partners. Respect for our community, respect for our culture, and of course, respect for our natural environment.

Having a sustainable development policy is good. Taking concrete steps on a daily basis to achieve results is much better. That’s why we’ve established simple principles to guide our decisions and steer the efforts made by every department in the hotel. These principles are aligned with our belief in improving quality of life at work and ensuring transparency and high ethical standards in our business relationships. They underpin our actions to reduce our ecological footprint and support the community organizations and social causes we care about. And they reflect our desire to promote Francophone culture and the creativity of our local artists and artisans.

Making the right decisions to reduce, reuse, and recycle

Everything starts with the choice and management of our facilities and equipment and the use of products aligned with our commitment to sustainable development. Next come our recycling services (recycling bins on multiple floors), rigorous water management (purification and watering, saltwater pool, water stations instead of bottled water), and energy-saving measures (energy-efficient lightbulbs, no lighting and low heat in meeting rooms when not in use).

We also buy local whenever we can. Hotel bedding, drapes, and furniture and the personal hygiene products we use (which are organic and biodegradable) are all made in Quebec according to standards for ethical and responsible manufacturing. The same goes for our FLO electric vehicle charging stations, two of which are reserved for our employees and three of which are offered to our customers free of charge (and without any parking fees).

Eco-friendly event planning

Hôtel Château Laurier Québec hosts numerous events every year, from business meetings and conferences to receptions and weddings. Preparing and holding these events can generate a lot of vehicle use, use a lot of paper, and create a lot of garbage and food waste.

We saw this as a great opportunity to line up our various green initiatives with those of our suppliers and clients in order to make our events eco-friendly.

That includes providing event organizers with a list of best practices for eco-friendly events.

We also give our clients the option of making an environmental contribution to offset their event’s ecological footprint. The contribution is voluntary and comes in the form of a clause that can be added to their contract. If they accept, the $1.50/person contribution goes toward Adoptez un habitat. Contributions have been used to support wetland protection projects in Ste‑Anne‑de‑la‑Pérade and Grondines, wildlife habitat protection in Îles‑de‑la‑Madeleine, and interpretation activities at the Provencher Marsh in Neuville. In return, clients receive a certificate attesting to the eco‑friendliness of their event.

George V banquet and catering services is also an active partner in our quest for sustainable development. Most of the products they use are local (less than 300 km from producer to table), organic, and seasonal. Some of them are even hyperlocal, such as the fresh herbs grown in the hotel’s Four Seasons Garden and the honey from the hives on the hotel roof. Our honey, along with honey from other hives in town, is even sold to raise funds for community projects. We also try to minimize the use of single-portion food and drinks as well as disposable cutlery. And any extra food is managed responsibly through composting and food bank donations in order to minimize garbage and waste.

Playing an active role in the community

We’re committed to being active in our local community, whether it means fielding a team of employees to take part in the annual Alzheimer’s walk (  or attending a presentation by someone who’s been able to get back on their feet thanks to our donations to United Way. Although some of these activities may involve a financial contribution, they’re mostly about time and commitment. Whatever collective action we choose to invest in, we all—management, staff, everyone—have to be informed, motivated, and ready to put in the time and effort to reach our goals.

Earlier I mentioned that our surplus food is sent to food banks; in the same spirit, furniture, bedding, baths, showers, and other items that no longer correspond to the standards of a four-star hotel are also donated to charitable organizations such as the local Women’s Centre, Maison Lauberivière, Patro Roc‑Amadour, Society of Saint‑Vincent de Paul, Maison Dauphine, and Cité Joie.

We also nurture our community by promoting Québec culture and local artists. You’ll notice that we have gorgeous paintings by local artists hanging on the walls of our rooms and common areas. Perk up your ears and you’ll find that part of the Hôtel Château Laurier Québec’s special vibe also comes from the French-language music playing here and there throughout the hotel.

Our employees at the heart of everything we do

All of this would be impossible without the active participation of all our staff. To make sure our sustainable development initiatives are more than just a simple list of good intentions, we’ve created an internal sustainable development committee (the Green Committee) to guide and motivate our staff and provide helpful advice.

The committee is responsible for evolving our practices by stimulating innovation and proposing new ideas that help drive continuous improvement. It’s also tasked with reviewing our sustainable development objectives and advising the hotel’s other committees in that regard. Members also work to build awareness and circulate information. They talk to hotel suppliers and partners about the importance of adopting sustainable practices and they share success stories and results internally to encourage us to pursue our efforts.

An approach that sets us apart from the competition

Of course, our sustainable development policy is framed by our business objectives, but it’s a productive approach in that it drives us to innovate and find better, smarter solutions in every area of our operations. Over the years, our actions have earned us certifications from Green Key (four keys), RéserVert, and Recyc-Québec (level two). And these achievements haven’t gone unnoticed by our business clients. Here’s a concrete example.

When we signed a contract with Québec’s Regional Landscaping Association, AAQR, to host their annual congress, their representative Véronique Vallée told us that her association had chosen Hôtel Château Laurier Québec over equal or comparatively priced alternatives for the following reasons:

  • It’s a local family business;
  • It has a comprehensive, wide-ranging sustainable development policy that includes green measures, social engagement, and promotion of the French language;
  • The policy colours every aspect of the client experience;
  • Sustainable development is a fundamental principle for AARQ.

We’re proud to offer our guests a memorable experience while at the same time minimizing the negative impacts of their stay on the physical environment and maximizing the positive economic and social impacts for the community.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE!

By the time you read these lines, I will have made a trip or two to Québec City’s German Christmas Market. Every year I can hardly wait for the market to open. It’s just like the ones you find in Europe and brings the same feelings of warmth and good cheer (as long as you’re well dressed!).

Photo: Geneviève Roussel

The colourful lights, sparkling decorations, music, and smiles at the market will take you back to your childhood, but there’s more than that. It’s a chance to discover the food and traditions of Alsace and Germany in a setting reminiscent of an Alpine chalet. Families with children can hear wonderful stories, create characters, watch a puppet show, and meet the real Santa Claus (good ol’ Saint Nicolas).

There are some 80 wooden kiosks where producers, artists, and artisans await with a wide range of original products in a friendly, festive locale. Every year it’s a wonderful experience of finding unique gifts that I can’t wait to give. There are clothes made from wool and recycled fur, ingenious kitchen implements, lamb terrines, apfelbrot bread with apples, rum, and raisins, decorative aspen paddles—truly something for everyone and every budget. You can also just go to soak up the atmosphere, hear a choir, eat some cheese fondue, drink some mulled wine, or have a coffee and churro. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon!

I’d like to take this moment to wish you and everyone in your family a wonderful holiday season from me and all of my colleagues at Hôtel Château Laurier Québec. We wish you health and happiness and a wonderful start to the new year. Cheers!

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