"So, if you are headed abroad for a vacation this summer, be sure to include Vienna in your itinerary and contribute your bit towards the environment."
By Rahul Vaishnavi

Vienna, June 22 - Meals prepared from locally sourced organic ingredients, hybrid cabs for guests, solar panels that produce electricity and water drawn from a well are some unique features on offer by the 'green hotels' of Vienna as they cash in on the global concept of eco-friendly hotels catering to the growing number of tourists conscious of their carbon footprint.

Over the last few years, the historic capital of Austria has seen a sudden spurt of green hotels and their numbers are increasing every year owing to a similar surge in the number of aware travellers from around the world who make it a point to stay in such places, officials said.

The number of guests preferring eco-friendly hotels is definitely rising, which means more business for such hotels and ultimately all of them contributing towards the environment, Verena Hable of the Vienna Tourist Board (VTB) told IANS.

It is a win-win situation for everybody, she added.

The many hoteliers of the city - one of the country's nine federal states with a population of around 1.8 million and known for its captivating architecture, rich culture and diverse cuisine - are leaving no stone unturned to earn the bragging rights for going green.

And the tariffs are just around 5-10 percent more compared to a conventional hotel.

Some of the innovative techniques used include water pipes running through ceilings and floors of the hotel rooms so that when hot water passes through, the room automatically becomes warm and there is no need for electric heaters.

The heating and cooling of our hotel is warranted by a ground water fountain and a ventilation system with heat recovery. Costs can be saved by around 25 percent in heating and about 60 percent in cooling, Christiane Weissenborn, CEO of Hotel Topazz, told IANS.

Moreover, the hotel is equipped with triple heat protection glasses and an airtight cladding, added Weissenborn, whose hotel also offers a range of eco-friendly wine and was awarded the Green Luxury Award in 2013.

Some hotels also provide electronic scooters and bikes to guests to explore the city and thereby reduce their dependence on petrol guzzling cabs.

Sonja Wimmer, general manager of Best Western Premier, got so obsessed with going green that she completely renovated her family-owned boutique hotel in 2013 and thus made it the first among the few hotels in the city to fulfill the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF)-standards for allergy friendly hotels.

The original edifice built in 1989 now focusses specially on serving organic food.

Our nutritious breakfast buffet is made strictly from regionally grown organic products of high quality, Wimmer told IANS.

The hotel has also received the Austrian eco-label for its eco-friendly and sustainable concept.

Taking the preference for organic products to the next level is Florian Weitzer, owner of Hotel Daniel Vienna.

He not only has a vineyard but also indulges in bee keeping, all inside his hotel complex in the heart of the city.

There are plants as well as a vineyard in the front garden of the hotel. There are apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and herbs of every kind which are used to make home-made herbal oil, Weitzer said.

The hotel's roof is used for bee-keeping which was started in early 2012.

Even though the extra efforts put in to build and maintain the eco-friendly properties do burn a hole in the pocket, the hoteliers are not complaining as they consider it a long-term investment.

These hotels are expensive to build and maintain, but the difference is not reflected in the tariffs because our profits may be low now but the number of travellers who strictly prefer green hotels is rising, Michaela Reitterer of Stadthalle Wien, a boutique hotel in the city, told IANS.

We are considering it as a long-term investment, she said.

So, if you are headed abroad for a vacation this summer, be sure to include Vienna in your itinerary and contribute your bit towards the environment.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted on [email protected])


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