Skift Take

Can you combine indulgence with making a meaningful difference? Rosewood believes it will at a half-dozen of its ultra-luxury hotels.

Rosewood Hotel Group, the ultra-luxury brand, has quietly launched a program that sets a higher bar for meeting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

The initiative, called Impact Trailblazers, spotlights hotels that pledge to achieve at least one of six stretch goals by 2025. Goals include reducing waste like single-use plastics, sourcing supplies locally, and developing community partnerships to hire locally.

“These properties are not just meeting our ambitious sustainability goals — they’re exceeding them, showcasing that luxury and positive impact can be synonymous,” said Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, vice president of social impact at Rosewood Hotel Group, in an exclusive interview.

Rosewood hopes its half-dozen top performers inspire all of its hotels and the broader industry. It operates 44 hotels and has over 30 in development.

The program claims to have some early results. Rosewood São Paulo has achieved 90% waste diversion, operates on 100% renewable energy, and has hired 45% of its workforce from underserved groups. Rosewood Phuket sources all ingredients for its signature restaurant locally. Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico supports a non-profit school, while Rosewood Phnom Penh partners with a vocational training non-profit in Cambodia.

Rosewood Mayakoba. Source: Rosewood.

Rosewood’s Impact

Here are some of the early successes claimed by these hotels.

  • Rosewood São Paulo has achieved 90% waste diversion and operates on 100% renewable energy. It has hired 45% of its workforce from underserved local groups.
  • Rosewood Phuket has been one of the local pioneers in environmental sustainability, earning LEED Gold Certification and achieving local sourcing goals. Its signature restaurant, Ta Khai, sources all ingredients locally, supporting community farmers using sustainable practices.
  • Rosewood Mayakoba revived a non-profit school in Riviera Maya that had stopped functioning and now supports over 450 students. It recently added a separate building for a new secondary school.
  • Rosewood Phnom Penh partners with a local non-profit offering vocational training to Cambodian youth, bringing in students for performances and demonstrations of local artistic traditions.
  • Rosewood Baha Mar focuses on coral conservation in The Bahamas, partnering with the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation. The resort employs 95% local staff and promotes diversity and female representation at supervisory levels.
  • Rosewood Hong Kong introduced BluHouse, a restaurant concept that employs refugees and ethnic minorities.

Hotel Business Benefits

Ahmed challenged the notion that doing good compromises business performance.

“The travel sector accepts that there’s a trade-off between doing well and doing good far too easily,” Ahmed said. “The fact that two of our Impact Trailblazers properties — Rosewood Hong Kong and Rosewood São Paulo — were recently featured in the latest 50 Best Hotels list shows that there’s definitely not a trade-off in delivering luxury and having a positive social impact.”

The efforts can also translate into enhancing guest loyalty.

“Luxury is a feeling,” Ahmed said. “It’s about the connection we create with our guests, and this can be fostered even without spelling out the social impact piece.”

“If you’ve stayed at Rosewood Mayakoba, you’ll know that each guest receives a beautiful little, colorful, folklore animal representative of Mayan culture,” Ahmed said. “Guests have commented positively on these figurines. But what most don’t know is that these figures are special because they are carved through a partnership with a social enterprise that hires women recovery from domestic abuse.”

Rosewood executives also believe that hotels with a social impact work have a better chance of attracting and retaining top talent.

“The pandemic has accelerated this trend of people wanting to know that the work that they are doing most of the hours of their day is doing something positive for the world,” Ahmed said.

Accommodations Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of hotels and short-term rental sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets, including international and regional hotel brands, hotel REITs, hotel management companies, alternative accommodations, and timeshares.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more hotels and short-term rental financial sector performance.

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.

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Tags: climate change, ESG, future of lodging, luxury, luxury hotels, luxury travel, rosewood, rosewood hotel group, rosewood hotels, social impact, ultra-luxury

Photo credit: Two Thai workers look at fresh vegetables locally sourced for a hotel restaurant in Phuket Thailand. Rosewood

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