HOTEL REVIEW | Hotel Verde, Cape Town
Nancy Richards stays at one of South Africa's most eco-friendly spots, just a hop from the Cape Town International Airport
A wing span away from Cape Town International, it doesn't get handier than this for an early morning flight from the Mother City. Be out of bed and at the boarding gate within minutes, cutting your carbon footprint to next to nil.
Despite its proximity to the runway, the ambience in this mini green oasis is surprisingly peaceful with a birdsong backdrop from the well-kept wetland garden. Traffic dependent, it's about 20 minutes or 22km to the City Centre - and there's a complementary daily shuttle to and from the Waterfront.
Inducted into the sustainability ethos, all staff are in the know of what's eco-what or not, and if they don't, they'll find out.
The focus here is full-on environment. A faux grass rhino guards the lifts, a vertical growing wall lines the lobby, an honesty bookshelf invites you to recycle your finished reads, screens display water- and energy-saving stats and everywhere are eco-prompts and messages: "Our 40,000l stainless-steel tank stores rain water and subsoil drainage ... for irrigation, car washing and external cleaning.
"Please use the gym to generate power while having fun."
This, taking the stairs instead of the lift, reusing towels and not using the air-con all earn you Verdinos, tokens worth R5 to redeem at the bar or deduct from your bill.
On Wednesday evenings, Earth Hour sees lights seductively dimmed, and solar jars and LED candles switched on.
At the Nuovo restaurant, fresh food is sourced within a 160km radius where possible, herbs and garnish are grown on site and both vegans and vegetarians are well catered for.
A bonus for parents is the bambini menu and it's good to know that leftovers are made up into sandwiches for a local school. Wet waste gets composted and all packaging sorted and recycled.
Refreshing too that water purified in-house is glass bottled, no straws used and R2 discount on drinks served ice-free.
In the heart of Industria, it's a pleasant surprise to be able to jog the wood-chip track surrounding the wetland reeds, work out in the outdoor gym or take a dip in the twinkling, chemical-free eco-pool with water lilies. Thirty minutes on a treadmill in the indoor gym literally runs up enough energy to recharge a cellphone.
The 145 rooms — from standard to executive suite — all have an impressive list of green features, including low-flow water system. Freshen up, gym, restaurant and luggage-store facilities are also available for travellers between flights. Eight different-sized conferencing venues give you carbon-neutral options for your sustainability report and an eye-opening tour of the "green technology" plant — pumps, grey-water, solar and wind systems — can be arranged.
A standard room for two is R2,045. Weekend specials available - Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights only and excluding breakfast - R1,045 per room per night, subject to availability. Must be booked on the website. • Richards was a guest of Hotel Verde