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Boutique Hotels Say They Face Unique Challenges Going Plastics-Free

Travel Beyond Plastics is a groundbreaking new Skift series about the travel industry’s addiction to plastics and what happens when companies and travelers try to kick this unsustainable habit.

Marriott said in August that it would replace little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel with bigger bottles.

Intercontinental Hotel Group, whose brands include Intercontinental, Crown Plaza, and Holiday Inn, announced a similar step in July, affecting nearly 850,000 hotel rooms.
But at the Parkview Historic Hotel, next to Audubon Park in New Orleans, owner Liz Creel said reducing plastics isn’t so simple.

“It is a huge challenge for a small hotel operator,” Creel said. “The broader issue for me is finding the balance.”

You might think that customers of boutique hotels like the Parkview or patrons of small hotel groups would be the most interested in reducing plastics use. Indeed, IHG cited demand from hotel guests as a key reason why it’s eliminating individual bottles.

But many of her travelers are not pushing for change, Creel said.

“The tricky thing is that guests often don’t want to be responsible when they travel,” she said. “They do the right thing at home, but on vacation, they want to be on vacation.”

The Parkview Hotel in New Orleans. Photo: Parkview.

Yet hotel companies want to be seen as doing the right thing too.

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