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bottled waterIn a world where being a green hotel often translates into simply asking guests to reuse towels, a new initiative by several hotel brands to eliminate bottled water has gotten our attention.

According to SustainableBusiness.com, a group of hotels and resorts including Virgin, Ritz-Carlton and Banyan Tree plan to reduce their use of plastic water bottles by filtering, bottling (in reusable glass bottles) and selling their own water.

One of the cool things about the project is not only that it will reduce the number of plastic bottles used by the hospitality companies, but also that a portion of the proceeds from the water sales will go to the nonprofit Whole World Water, whose main purpose is to bring clean drinking water to populations that don’t have it.

Virgin expects to eliminate more than 200,000 plastic bottles a year from its Necker Island Resort, Virgin founder Richard Branson wrote on his blog.

“With Whole World Water, we plan to stop use of almost all plastic bottles on Necker,” he wrote. “We’re aiming to reduce the amount of plastic at our other Virgin Limited Edition properties and our new Virgin Hotels.”

Green Travel Tips

The initiative is modeled on a system used by Soneva Resorts at its Maldives and Thailand properties since 2008. The resort’s founder, Sonu Shivdasani, also is a founding member of Whole World Water. The program has improved clean water access for more than 600,000 people, Shivdasani claims.

What we find particularly impressive is that so many competing companies are working together. For instance, Soneva Resorts is actually providing the seed money to get the project going. But it’s not a free ride for any of the companies; each has to pay $1,000 annually per participating property, plus install a water filtration and bottling system at each property.

Participating brands so far include Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Hotels, Banyan Tree, Auberge du Soleil, Tao Restaurant Group, The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, JetWing Hotels, Dusit Hotels and Resorts, and The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu.

The initiative officially kicks off on March 22, World Water Day.

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What do you think of the initiative? Would you choose a hotel specifically because it’s participating? How would you feel about buying water filtered and bottled on-site?

– written by Dori Saltzman