A prominent sign of the era of sustainable lodgings is the success of Soul Community Planet (SCP), a hotelier that prioritizes environmental responsibility, along with wellness and social stewardship. Ken Cruse, co-founder and chief executive officer, and Pam Cruse, co-founder and chief marketing officer, lead the company, which currently owns and operates nine hotels: three in California, three in Oregon, and three in Colorado, Hawaii, and Costa Rica, respectively. “We’ve both been in the industry for a long time, and we saw so many good things that are being done by so many great companies. But we also saw a growing need that was not being met. And that is serving eco-conscious consumers,” explained Ken in conversation with LODGING at ALIS 2023. “So, our brand is oriented around the values of healthy, kind, and green.” Ken and Pam also characterize these core values as “soul, community, and planet.” “Soul means taking care of our guests, community is the social good, and planet is the focus on regenerative travel,” she said. Pam also pointed to several recent milestones SCP has reached in the “planet” area, including achieving company-wide Net Zero Waste for 2022, earning a new EarthCheck benchmark, and launching the Pristine Playa program on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.
Achieving Net Zero
Last year, SCP achieved net negative waste of approximately 1.5 pounds per occupied room throughout its portfolio, generating an estimated one pound of landfill waste per occupied room (less than half of the estimated industry average) and an estimated 2.5 pounds of waste recovery and carbon sequestration per occupied room. “Thanks to the SCP team’s focus and hard work, all of our hotels have implemented measured reduce, reuse, recycle programs,” Ken said in a press statement. “Accounting for offsets, such as carbon sequestered by the trees and kelp we plant and ocean waste we recover through programs like Pristine Makai in Hawaii—and now Pristine Playa in Costa Rica—we are currently exceeding our Net Zero Waste objective. That said, our ultimate goal is to achieve virtually zero solid waste per guest stay independent of carbon and waste-recovery offsets. This is a lofty but attainable goal, as most solid waste generated by hotels is unnecessary food waste and packaging.”
SCP Redmond has achieved Bronze Benchmarked recognition through EarthCheck, a leading business advisory group specializing in sustainability and destination management for the travel and tourism industry. EarthCheck has now identified both SCP Redmond and SCP Hilo as regional leaders in energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and community contributions. The certification is done in two phases: Benchmarking, the quantitative evaluation of a property’s environmental and social performance; and Certification, the verification of those standards by an approved third-party EarthCheck Auditor. SCP Redmond and SCP Hilo are expected to achieve Silver Certified status in 2023.
SCP Corcovado Wilderness Lodge’s new Pristine Playa program, conducted in partnership with Fundación Corcovado, aims to keep the adjacent Corcovado National Park free of ocean waste. “Unfortunately, Corcovado National Park—which houses 3 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and which the National Geographic Society defined as the most biologically intense place in the world—simply lacks the resources to conduct regular waste cleanups,” Ken explained. Part of SCP’s Every Stay Does Good program, the Pristine Playa program is expected to recover more ocean waste from the shores of Corcovado National Park than will be generated by the already waste-efficient SCP Corcovado Wilderness Lodge. The program will also provide income for residents of the economically challenged Osa community.
At ALIS 2023, Ken discussed the feedback SCP is receiving on its approach to hospitality. “We’re getting more and more folks coming up to us, saying, ‘Hey, we love what you’re doing,’” he said. “So that’s a great validation and gives us a sense of wind in our sails as we continue to grow the brand.”