Already in May 2008, the Sunstar Group introduced complete climate neutrality for its ten Swiss hotels and thus assumed an important pioneering role. Guests will not incur any additional costs as a result. However, Sunstar offers them the uncomplicated and voluntary option of compensating for their individual arrival and departure with myclimate. Kurt Bieri, responsible for sustainability at Sunstar, gives a deeper insight into the sustainability strategy of the Swiss hotel group.
Mr. Bieri, how did your guests and employees react when, about ten years ago, you integrated climate neutrality into your range of services permanently and without additional costs for your guests?
The guests took note of this step with a certain surprise, but were, and still are, extremely benevolent towards this action. Last summer, we were all reminded once again of what climate change can mean, especially in the mountains (keywords: glacier shrinkage, lack of water in the Alps). Our employees have supported this strategy from the very beginning and are still proud to work in a company that takes environmental concerns seriously.
The Sunstar Hotel Group emphasizes that sustainability is not just a buzzword for you. To what extent do you differ from providers who let words speak instead of deeds?
More than ten years of commitment to climate neutrality speak for themselves. Where other companies may attract attention with individual campaigns, we have internalized our attitude in this regard and live it from the management of the company to the individual employee.
In the course of these years, which are unfortunately low yielding years for the holiday hotel industry in the mountains, Sunstar has invested about 6 million CHF annually, among other things renewing almost all heating systems, replacing cooling systems, renewing ventilation systems, insulating facades, renewing roofs, etc. The compensation contribution made to the myclimate foundation (currently the biomass cooker project in Shanxi, China) has so far amounted to approximately CHF 800,000.
To what extent do you involve your 400 employees in the sustainability strategy of the Sunstar Group?
Already on the occasion of the twice yearly basic training for new employees, our managing director sensitizes the newly arrived specialists to the topic of sustainability at Sunstar. In the company, the employees are then directly involved in the strategy, because the philosophy is visible all around and should also be lived by all employees. We are particularly pleased if our guests are also "infected" by this and contribute their part to the success.
In general, what makes Sunstar unique in the Swiss hotel industry?
Firstly, the fact that we are a 100% Swiss hotel group, which many people may not know because of the name. Then our ten hotels in all of them outstanding destinations for the holiday hotel industry. We are also proud to announce that Sunstar will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year!
With which arguments and offers do you convince now at the beginning of autumn even undecided people to take a break in a Sunstar hotel?
The best argument is always the nice weather in the nature, but unfortunately we cannot guarantee this either. In the Swiss mountains, the autumn season is dreamlike, calm and far-sightedness, colourful forests, ideal to recharge your batteries before the rather "grey" November days. We can recommend a particularly attractive offer in Saas-Fee, the pearl of the Alps.
Sunstar supports the myclimate project "Cooking with corn cob residues instead of coal" in the Shanxi region in China by offering climate-neutral holidays.