Thursday, July 18

Going the extra green mile

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THE footpath winds under the green canopy of tall trees.

Phang Joo See

Stalks of ferns, swaying gently in the breeze, brush against one another, creating a swishing sound amidst the tweets of songbirds.

Yellow butterflies flutter lazily by. On a piece of flat land, a few chilli plants grow alongside vegetable beds and lemon grass as well as pandanus — a perfect secluded garden that can be found in any rural homes in Sabah.

But this is not a rural scene but one within a modern hotel right in the middle of Kota Kinabalu that boasts amenities both modern and contemporary.

Based on these attributes, the Palace Hotel, situated on a hill overlooking the techcity Karamunsing, has just been inspected for the ‘Green Hotel’ certification and it hopes to be accorded at least two ‘leaves’ if not three for its greening efforts.

Its general manager Phang Joo See said the hotel has been following environmental practices for a while now — such as reduction of energy and water and waste management.

“I believe we have a part to play in raising environmental awareness among our staff and guests through our ‘green’ programme.

“This includes programmes for recycling and linen changing and installing energy efficient lightings,” she said, adding that they did not only send this message to the staff but also their guests.

According to Phang, they have started a linen reuse programme in all guest rooms where towels are not changed unless requested or thrown on the floor while bed linens are only changed once in 48 hours.

“We are also using low flow toilets to save energy and water,” she revealed.

LANDMARK: The Palace Hotel in Kota Kinabalu.

The hotel collects and supplies old newspapers, white papers, glass products, aluminium cans, cardboard, and plastics to recycling companies.

“Our used cooking oil is also channelled to our customers — not to those recycling it into cooking oil but to the brick makers,” she added.

The project the hotel is proud of is, of course, the disposal of wet waste from the kitchen.

According to Phang, the waste is collected and given to a company that makes compost which is turned into organic fertiliser and then sold to oil palm plantations and orchards as well as padi planters.

She said because the fertiliser was organic, it replenished the soil’s natural fertility instead of sapping it as would chemical fertilisers.

“I know, because I use the fertiliser at home as well as for our hotel gardens.”

Which, of course, takes us to the gardens at the back and front of the Hotel where many types of herbs, plants, flowers and shrubs are grown.

The herbs have medicinal uses that could be of interest to researchers. Some are said to have properties for treating cancer, diabetes and other ailments.

Huge cabbages thrive in the sun-bathed gardens just waiting to be plucked in the next month or so.

CLOSE TO NATURE: The winding footpath within the Hotel’s perimeter.

The vegetables and other green edibles grown in the gardens are all used in the kitchen to ensure guests have good clean healthy food supplied by the Hotel’s very own gardens.

The Hotel also collects rainwater for watering the plants, and according to Phang, there is no waste as everything is put to good use except for unsanitary items.

“I believe more and more hotels are embracing the Green Concept and I personally believe we should follow suit and set an example to our friends, guests and visitors,” she said, adding that she has always advocated cutting wastage and saving water and energy.

To ensure that all the areas are taken care of, the Hotel has formed an Environmental Care Committee for proper maintenance of the premises.

PRISTINE: A tropical jungle setting is ideal for environmental-conscious hotel guests.

While waiting for their Green Leaf Certification, the Hotel will continue its good work.

Palace Hotel offers 151 rooms — 141 superior, five deluxe rooms and five Palace suites.

Exquisitely designed to cater for modern, casual and business travellers, the Hotel is an oasis of comfort within a busy city environment.

Aside from with these offerings, there is promise of a jungle walk just a few metres away with a good feel of a tropical jungle atmosphere complete with wildlife like lizards, squirrels and monkeys.