Perspective: Barceló Hotel Group CEO says there is a commitment, duty owed to the planet

We are living in an age that is crucial to the future of the planet and its people. An age in which our commitment can make a greater difference than ever before. The challenge is clear: not to give up the things that make us happy while, at the same time, choosing more responsible ways of doing things and finding alternatives. It’s a quest that is extremely urgent for the tourism industry in a time of climate crisis.

In our last campaign, Barceló Hotel Group talked about taking care of the places that make us happy—a statement that goes far beyond a simple advertising slogan and which sums up in a few words one of the company’s chief objectives: to make this world a kinder place, which we can enjoy while we endeavour to make our impact on it a positive one. This is what has for some time been known as “regenerative tourism,” a concept that takes sustainability one step further and which restates the essence of Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell’s maxim: “Leave the world a little better than you found it.”

At Barceló Hotel Group, we are taking on the responsibility for driving a collaborative leadership to encourage others to join our quest for a positive impact on our environment and to build a partnership with its sights set on the longer term. This transition is global and naturally evolving and our chief motivation is the future that we know rests in our hands.

As part of our commitment, we have designed a strategic framework that will help to guide us as we integrate ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria into our business model in an interdependent and holistic way. In addition, we have implemented a series of measures designed to contribute to the development of the local and global economy, by dedicating ourselves to caring for the environment and for people, and by being economically sustainable and ethically responsible.

Raúl González, CEO, Barcelo Hotel Group

With our new sustainability plan, which we have named “Barceló ReGen,” we hope to drive forward a profound cultural transformation in every area of the company’s activity and to collaborate and forge partnerships along our entire value chain, while always upholding the values of honesty and transparency. The fight against the climate crisis is a cross-cutting, ineluctable mission that affects all our decisions. Thus, objectives such as carbon reduction, making the circular economy a reality and protecting Earth’s biodiversity are an absolute priority for our company.

In line with this strategy, the “Sustainability of Impact” project will enable us to measure and increase the economic, social and environmental impact of our hotels on those destinations where we have a presence, by directing our efforts toward achieving improved energy efficiency and seeking to directly benefit the development of the local economy.

The integration of sustainability into our plans begins when we are designing and building our hotels, and in this area, we have achieved BREEAM certification (the widely-used accreditation in sustainable construction, which assesses impact across 10 different categories) and 20 of our hotels gained this certification in 2022.

We are ambitious: We design energy solutions adapted to the needs of each individual hotel and we direct our efforts toward optimization. As an example of this, 100% of the energy supplied in our hotels in Spain now comes from renewable sources.

La Bobadilla, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, in Granada

In addition to making our buildings as energy-efficient as possible, we need our teams to bring sustainability criteria into the day-to-day running of our hotels. With this in mind, we are designing our own sustainable management system, in line with the requirements of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. We hope to begin implementing this in our hotels before the end of the year. In other words, we are using technological innovation to improve all the processes that can help us to reduce our environmental footprint and to improve our management and regeneration of natural resources.

In addition, we have set ourselves the target of reducing our GHG scope absolute emissions by 50% between now and 2030 and from then onwards we will be working on a transition plan to become a net-positive company. We can add to this the €6 million and more that we have invested in preventing environmental risks and in protecting and improving the environment, as we aim to contribute to the preservation and the recovery of biodiversity.

Our campaign slogan is so much more than an intention; it is a way of understanding the tourism industry at the present time and a call to take care of the planet, its people and its ecosystems. We feel that we have a duty to initiate a great change, to lay the foundations for a more responsible, more conscious tourism model that is more closely connected to our destinations and their people. Now, more than ever, every action counts.

Raúl González is the CEO of Barceló Hotel Group. He is a member of HOTELS Magazine’s advisory board.