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Hertelier Feature: Sustainability Pioneers: OUTRIGGER Hospitality Group with VP Monica Salter

With properties scattered across the pristine beaches and azure waters of the Pacific, a deep commitment to sustainability is ingrained in OUTRIGGER Hospitality Group’s ethos. As Monica Salter, VP of Global Communications & Social Responsibility, explains, “As a premier beach resort brand, the foundation of our ESG platform remains rooted in ocean conservation and coral protection. With hundreds of guests at our resorts each night, we have an incredible opportunity to communicate how they can positively contribute to a sustainable environment – for example: connecting the dots that using less electricity actually helps ocean conservation." This passion has fueled OUTRIGGER’s emergence as a sustainability leader in the hospitality industry.

OUTRIGGER's Deep Commitment to Sustainability and Ocean Conservation

During her tenure at OUTRIGGER, Salter learned about its pioneering sustainability journey that originated with coral conservation. She highlights the coral reef propagation efforts that first began at its Castaway Island resort in Fiji, done in partnership with a local non-profit group, Mamanuca Environment Society. "This partner organization was one of the first to be purposeful in replanting broken bits of coral – not only is it now a favorite signature experience at our Fiji and Maldives resorts, it led to OUTRIGGER integrating coral conservation into our ethos of environmental stewardship," Salter recounts.

Monica Salter's Insights on Coral Protection and Environmental Stewardship at OUTRIGGER

In 2014, OUTRIGGER launched its OUTRIGGER Zone platform focused solely on reef protection and coral restoration. The resorts provide guest education about corals and have initiatives such as the Coral Kids Club, which imparts reef protection concepts through activities like coconut bowling and crafts using sustainable materials. Since its inception, OUTRIGGER has preserved, protected and planted more than 100 football fields worth of coral.

From Coral Conservation to Emissions Reduction: OUTRIGGER's Expanding ESG Platform

Under the leadership of its President and CEO Jeff Wagoner, the company added a commitment to conservation as one of five key brand pillars and further expanded this commitment as part of its larger ESG platform.

OUTRIGGER is now developing concrete goals around reduction of emissions, energy, water and waste - including how decreasing these impacts can also help protect delicate coral reef ecosystems. By meticulously tracking utility data they have benchmarked performance across all properties. “The first thing we needed to do was create a baseline to understand where we’re at right now – then set metrics for reduction,” Salter explains. The efforts are paying off – its Waikiki properties have reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 23% and 20% respectively between 2019 and 2022.

Sustainability Practices and Guest Education: OUTRIGGER's Positive Impact

While measurements are important, OUTRIGGER also recognizes its power to educate guests on sustainability and reef protection. At check-in to its Hawaii resorts, every guest receives a metal reusable water bottle and reusable tote, with water filling stations across the properties, reducing plastic waste. Complimentary reef-safe sunscreen is provided at the pool deck. As Salter observes, “People protect what they love. If you give them the opportunity to do the right thing, they usually will.”

Challenges and Solutions in OUTRIGGER's Sustainability Journey

Progress hasn't been easy. Recycling remains a challenge, but OUTRIGGER constantly explores innovative solutions such as off-site solar farms and strategic partnerships with non-profits such as NOAA and Sustainable Coastlines. Complexities persist, but Salter stresses the importance of steady, incremental progress.

As a sustainability pioneer rooted in coral conservation, OUTRIGGER Hospitality Group's journey shows how incremental change focused on our planet's precious resources can lead to real impact. With commitment and care for the planet, the hospitality industry can make waves of difference!

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