Linda Petrie Q&A

Linda Petrie Q&A

21 April, 2016
Eco Luxury
Linda Petrie speaks about the intersection of sustainability and luxury
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Linda Petrie represents a number of sustainable luxury resorts and properties. She spoke to Ecozine about corporate social responsibility and the intersection of luxury and environmental mindfulness.
 
Many (or all?) of the resorts and properties that you represent make sustainability and environmental concern a top priority. Is this just a coincidence, or have you elected to work only with sustainable properties? How did it come about that you started working in this niche market?
It was not a specific strategy for Petrie PR at the onset to work for sustainable properties and those also supporting independent foundations and philanthropy efforts. Although we hold sustainable and environmental concerns as a pillar of our own operating philosophy, it evolved rather organically stemming from our work for Nihiwatu together with the Sumba Foundation and progressed to Song Saa in Cambodia and the Song Saa Foundation, The Datai Langkawi, Alila Hotels & Resorts and others. Aside from our passion to support such endeavours and the expertise we've built up over 26 years, the work by association requires a highly personalized approach and understanding of the vital importance that hotels can and need to make in protecting their legacy for future generations.
 
How do you choose your clients? What are your criteria? If a property wishes to work with you but maybe doesn’t fulfill, say, your requirements for sustainability, do you work with them to raise their environmental standing?
We are fortunate to be working for many of the world’s leading hoteliers, innovators and creators and a lot of approaches come direct to us due to our reputation in the market and niche “boutique” positioning which, aside from our delivery, is very attractive to independent owners. There are too many mass operators in the market with little regard to giving back and not enough individuals making a difference to their own environment and community. If a prospective client does not meet our criteria in this regard we try to suggest consideration of community and environmental initiatives that can enhance their guest experience, contribution and consciousness.
 
Aren’t “luxury” and “environmentally responsible” mutually exclusive?
No! You can deliver a “luxury experience” but equally support a Foundation, environmental and community causes, such as demonstrated by Song Saa in Cambodia. In fact, I see the two working hand in hand symbiotically with each other.
 
What are some of the initiatives the locations you work with have launched for the environment and/or for fair social practices and social improvement?
A few worthy examples from Alila Hotels & Resorts in Bali include Alila Villas Uluwatu, which has wholly embraced environmentally sustainable design (ESD) principles and was the first resort in Indonesia to receive the highest level of certification from EarthCheck as a Best Practice Building Planning and Design (BPDS) development. Many ESD measures were used, including local materials, water conservation with soaks and rain gardens and a waste water management system, using local plants from the special Bali savannah ecosystem, the deliberate use of sustainable/recycled materials, protection of the natural environment, and measured work practices throughout construction.
Alila Villas Uluwatu also gives back to the local community through its support of The R.O.L.E Foundation, a non-profit partner working to break the poverty cycle through Women’s Skills and Business Education. Approximately 30 million Indonesians are living in poverty; about 70% of the poor are women and their children. Alila Villas Uluwatu also works with the Bali Life Foundation, a home that provides housing, education and health care to orphaned, abandoned and rejected children from the age of five to 15 in Bali.
The recently opened Alila Seminyak is also a perfect example of environmentally sustainable design (ESD) principles and is one of the resorts in Indonesia to receive the highest level of certification from EarthCheck as a Best Practice Building Planning and Design Standard (BPDS) development. Alila Seminyak is also working hard to offset its carbon footprint through the development of alternative energy projects such as solar and wind, and through financial investment in credited sustainable plantations and verified community projects.
 
From the resort’s perspective, does environmental concern present a hurdle to doing business? Is it more expensive? Are you obliged to forego certain amenities in order to remain sustainable? How does it impact a guest’s stay?
No, and if anything, our clients find that guests are increasingly interested in giving back and making a contribution during their stay. Some guests specifically request hotels and resorts with a strong environmental operating philosophy. More and more we are looking for an added experience as part of our travel journey and guests are very willing to participate and give back, whether through donation or bringing books, clothing or school supplies to benefit local endeavours. Guests also want to see and partake in local conservation efforts in order to contribute or gain a greater understanding of environmental programmes.
 
What about Petrie PR? What are your own efforts towards corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility is close to our heart and a central pillar of our operating philosophy. We also voluntarily support a number of organizations including the Nepal Youth Foundation, Animals Asia and FilmAid Asia.
 
What is your background, and how does it relate to what you are doing today?
I have worked for many of the leading luxury hotel brands and independent hoteliers for over 26 years both based in London and now in Asia. I was born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Vancouver and New York, and the experience has given me an incredible global view of the market, regional differences and perspective on local and international trends. We have a very strong understanding of the nuances and regional differences in each market in which we operate and hence recognize that it is our responsibility to support a growing sustainable and environmental effort across our clients which goes beyond the merely acceptable to protect our future and educate generations to come.

By: Ecozine Staff
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