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The Fairmont Orchid Goes Chemical-Free, 
Comprehensive Efforts in Housekeeping,
Landscaping and Reef Protection
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Kohala Coast, Hawaii’s Big Island, November 30, 2004 - Guests at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii may not have noticed, but there was something missing in their last stay: synthetic cleaning chemicals, fertilizers and herbicides.

Adopting an integrated approach to the environment, the hotel’s housekeeping team has switched to botanical cleansers and disinfectants; the landscaping team is transitioning to organic methods; and the beautiful coral reef ecosystem that thrives offshore is monitored regularly by oceanographers and hotel colleagues for overall health.

It’s About Thyme

Denise Levesque had a mission when she joined the 540-room Fairmont Orchid as Director of Housekeeping in February 2003: to switch from chemical cleaning products to an equally effective natural brand for the wellbeing of guests, her housekeeping team and the surrounding environment. She achieved her goal six months ago, and as a result, showers are shinier, while guest rooms and public areas smell like a fresh, herbal breeze. The housekeeping staff is reporting their allergies, headaches, light-headedness, and problems with dry, chapped hands, have disappeared.

The Fairmont Orchid uses Benefect, a Canadian product line developed by Sensible Life Products that surpasses both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada requirements for hospital-grade disinfectants. It is the only disinfectant currently certified by Environment Canada under its Environmental Choice Program, which created a disinfectant category especially for the company three years ago.

“Right now, we’re the only hotel in the United States using this product, but given its effectiveness we know use is going to spread,” says Ms. Levesque. “It’s far more effective, far safer for humans and far less expensive than standard products.”

Created from an aromatic, patented blend of thyme, clove and lemongrass oils, the disinfectant has a fresh, spring-like aroma that causes many guests - and hotel employees -- to pause and take another pleasant sniff. But while the aroma is pleasant, the solution is a powerful force in eliminating all kinds of bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms. Housekeepers and stewards at The Fairmont Orchid apply the products with microfiber cloths, which require less product and clean more effectively than standard cloths and sponges.

Organic Green Thumbs 

When guests emerge from their botanically cleaned guest rooms, they can stroll barefoot across lush emerald lawns knowing that they are walking on environmentally friendly grounds and that fertilizer run-off is not adversely affecting the coral reef offshore. Plant life at The Fairmont Orchid now thrives in soil that is carefully micro-fed organic, non-synthetic nutrients and bio-stimulants, which are fully utilized by the grasses and other plants.

“Our methodology is akin to how Mother Nature nourishes plant life naturally. By January 2005, we will have phased out all synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides in favor of natural organic landscaping methods throughout the 32-acre property,” says Landscaping Manager Michael McCullough. “This island is a uniquely spiritual, amazingly beautiful and increasingly fragile environment that we all must protect as respectful stewards.”

Beyond the lawns, the landscape team has selectively replaced many high maintenance, non-native tropical plants with endemic Hawaiian flora, such as fragrant native gardenia, nanu, and the purple-blossomed pa’u o hi’iaka.  These plants not only thrive in the seaside microclimate, but also serve to educate guest about native plant species. Weeds at the resort are dispatched with clove oil or seawater, while snails and slugs are eradicated with organic iron phosphate, which degrades into fertilizer once it kills the targeted pest.

The Coast is Clear

Just a few footsteps away from the beautifully and responsibly managed grounds at The Fairmont Orchid is magnificent Pauoa Bay and a thriving coral reef ecosystem cherished by hotel guests, the community and colleagues. In an unprecedented partnership, hotel colleagues and scientists from the Kalakaua Marine Education Center (KMEC) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo jointly monitor the health of the coral reef fronting The Fairmont Orchid.  Several times a year, they scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters off the resort to measure water temperature and salinity, collect samples for nutrient analysis, and take photographs and video along various sections of the coral reef.  Each May, a team of more than 30 students and faculty from KMEC carries out a more extensive survey of corals, fish, algae, and invertebrate organisms.  This could be compared to regular check-ups and a thorough annual physical exam for the resort’s beautiful coral reef. 

And the prognosis is good. “Our initial impression is that the coral reef environment fronting the Fairmont Orchid is very healthy,” states Dr. Walter Dudley, Professor of Oceanography and Director of KMEC. “We are really impressed by the efforts the hotel is making to keep it that way and be good stewards of their ocean environment.”  The reef off The Fairmont Orchid is a vibrant sea of life, with pastel colored corals, brilliantly hued reef fish, native Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu), spotted eagle rays, and a wide variety of other marine life.

The Fairmont Orchid’s ongoing, integrated effort to minimize hotel and tourism impacts on the environment, is a stand-out example of the impact of the Fairmont Green Partnership program, a company-wide program that encourages colleagues to earth-friendly action while providing Fairmont guests with a genuine and thriving sense of place.

Fairmont Green Partnership

Fairmont is committed to protecting the environment because it isn’t just something that’s “out there” - it’s the place where each of us lives, works and plays.  Pioneered by the company’s Canadian properties in 1990, the award-winning Fairmont Green Partnership program is now growing across the United States and internationally.  This comprehensive initiative to minimize the impact of hotel operations on the environment addresses key issues including waste management, water and energy conservation, habitat protection, purchasing, employee and guest education and community outreach. In addition to publishing "The Green Partnership Guide", a “going green” handbook for the hospitality industry, individual Fairmont properties are innovating with green power purchase, coral reef monitoring, food re-distribution, landscaping, golf course maintenance and a range of other activities that think globally and act locally.

Legendary castles, secluded lodges, storied meeting places and modern retreats.  For over a century Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has opened doors to some of the world's most celebrated addresses.  Today, our collection of 43 distinctive hotels in six countries, including The Fairmont San Francisco, The Fairmont Banff Springs and The Plaza, promise the traveler unparalleled settings, rich experiences and lasting memories.  Future Fairmont Hotels & Resorts include The Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya (2005) and The Fairmont Cairo (2006).

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Contact:
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Jessica Ferracane
Director of Public Relations
T: 808/896-8566
Jessica.Ferracane@fairmont.com
http://www.fairmont.com
Also See: The Fairmont Orchid Partners with the University of Hawaii-Hilo to Protect Coral Reef Ecosystem Located off the Oceanfront Resort / May 2004
Oliver Key Appointed Hotel Manager at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii / November 2004


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