To many, serviced accommodation is an unfamiliar term and this perhaps owes to the fact that within the hospitality industry, it is a fairly recent concept. (the first serviced apartments appeared in the capital in the 80’s). If someone were to tell you, instead of a hotel room you could have a whole apartment for the same cost, you may think they were scamming you. But this is the reality of serviced letting. The industry grew up around private owners letting to holiday makers wanting that little bit more freedom and flexibility. A home away from home. The corporate sector soon cottoned on to the idea and an industry was born. Now with 60% of corporate businesses having travel and relocation policies in place, 73% of companies worldwide use apartments instead of hotels ( for stays of 7 nights or more) for their travelling employees. Although the corporate sector has embraced the idea, it now seems that the general travelling public have little awareness of the benefits of serviced accommodation. There is a long tradition of travelers automatically going for the hotel option, and it seems a shift in thinking is what’s needed.
In this time of eco- awareness and pro-activity, maybe the emphasis should be directed to the lessened environmental impact of a stay in an apartment. The obvious factors that influence the energy efficiency of a building are the components that make up the fabric of the construction. Energy efficiency can be achieved here by careful selection of windows, roof structure, insulation, heating and ventilation. Perhaps a less obvious approach would be to look at the way in which the space is being used by the people that occupy it. We are constantly fed new advice on how we can make savings and use less energy, and at home this usually means a small change in habit that is easy to implement. But perhaps not so in a hotel. Here there are certain constants that are not easily avoided. Heating a swimming pool, lighting a corridor or service area, lift operation, large scale cooking facilities and massive heating and ventilation systems are all necessary energy consumers. None of the above feature in an apartment and when you consider that 40% of energy consumed in a hotel is electricity and that 60% of this comes from fossil fuels, you begin to see an expanding carbon shadow looming large over the hospitality industry. ( there are over 200,000 hotels in Europe alone and these making up 9% of all utilities buildings) With the serviced apartment option the manager or guest can monitor energy consumption on a single property basis and easily implement energy saving measures. (a reduction of 1 degree on the thermostat can be a saving of 3-5 % of gas consumed). There are no common areas to heat and light. Ventilation is as simple as opening a window. Water heating can be achieved using a combi boiler which means no hot water storage. In fact, for the environmentally conscious traveler, whether for work or recreation, the same eco friendly measures can be applied as would be in their own home. Camping aside, this would seem to be the green option.
Most of the energy wastage in a residential building comes from poor insulation to pipes , windows and roof spaces. Leaking taps or pipes and lighting overkill, all contribute to huge inefficiencies. In the maze of a hotels miles of pipe-work and wiring or the complexities of its building management system, these problems may not be visited immediately and thus the financial and environmental impact may not immediately be felt. Faults like these in a serviced apartment would immediately affect the space and would be dealt with as they arose. For the accommodation operator ( usually smaller companies or individuals) the financial savings are a driving factor in the success or failure of their business and therefore the implementation of energy saving measures is a necessity. For the corporate sector, reducing the carbon footprint of your company will, in the future bear fruits, as legislation starts to dictate our allowances on environmental impact. For the conscientious traveler, the peace of mind of knowing you are doing your bit may now be enough to move you away from the obvious option of a hotel stay.
As we move forward from this point, we know that the environment will become the overriding factor in every facet of our existence, and to this end it would be irresponsible not to revisit the choices we make today