Skål International, a leading global organization that works to bolster social responsibility and environmental sustainability within the tourism industry, announced the winners of its 2023 Sustainable Tourism Awards on Nov. 2. The organization is an affiliated member of World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, and its mission is to promote reliable and sustainable tourism. So, it’s no surprise that The Parkside Hotel & Spa, one of Victoria, British Columbia’s, top eco-friendly properties, won Skål’s 2023 Sustainable Tourism Award in the Urban Accommodation category.
“Receiving this award holds significant importance, as it was in collaboration between esteemed organizations UNWTO, RTI [Responsible Tourism Institute], and Biosphere,” says Trina White, general manager for The Parkside. “The fact that the award’s criteria were established and overseen by these respected partners underscores the highest level of accountability.”
The Parkside’s dedicated sustainability committee has implemented several sustainability initiatives into the hotel’s operations to ensure it runs as green as possible. The property is currently working toward a 95% waste diversion from landfills and investing in natural, renewable gas sources. It has been measuring its carbon footprint diligently since 2018, officially reaching carbon neutrality in 2020.
“Equally important is our commitment to involving our guests in these initiatives,” adds White. “For instance, through our partnership with Veritree [an organization that partners with business to plant verified trees], guests have the option to forgo housekeeping services, and in return, we plan 10 kelp trees on their behalf. This contributes to our carbon sink efforts that complement our carbon offsetting endeavors. Additionally, we provide complimentary bikes for all guests to encourage eco-friendly transportation options during their stay.”
When it comes to events hosted at The Parkside, the sustainability initiatives maintain their importance and prevalence in every step of the planning process. This includes The Parkside’s partnerships with suppliers that share the hotel’s sustainability values—such as its exclusive catering collaboration with Truffles Catering, a locally owned company committed to sourcing local ingredients and actively minimizing landfill waste.
“When guests book events with us, we provide complimentary whiteboards and water stations while avoiding the use of single-use plastics,” says White. “Additionally, we prioritize the education of our booking partners at every stage, from the moment they receive our proposal to the signing of the contract. We work purposefully with them to design sustainable events that align with our environmental goals.”
Alongside knowing their event will be environmentally friendly when hosted at The Parkside, planners will appreciate the hotel’s several on-site gathering spaces to choose from. Consider the Urban Ballroom, which offers 2,500 square feet of space for up to 200 attendees reception-style and boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and double doors that lead to a ground-level patio. The City Club Lounge features 1,600 square feet of function space and stunning views of downtown Victoria with capacity groups of up to 100. The James Bay Room and The Parkside Theatre work best for smaller groups of 20 and 28, respectively, while the Rooftop Garden can accommodate up to 120 and features gorgeous lavender and wild rose gardens against a backdrop of sprawling city views.