The Lodge at Atlantic Beach is a 20-room, four-star country house situated at the situated at the Atlantic Beach Golf Club in Melkbosstrand. Apart from avid golfers, the lodge is well-situated for visitors wanting to explore both Cape Town and the West Coast. The golf club itself has wedding and conference facilities, a spa, leisure centre with swimming pool as well as restaurants, so the lodge’s guests are never without extra comforts and good food.
Overview of the Lodge at Atlantic Beach03, June, 2016
20 rooms each with air-conditioning, a TV, bar fridge and kettle
Sleeps up to 56 guests (40 adults, 16 children)
Done by the business on the premises
History of the business28, June, 2016
The building in which the lodge is now located was built in 2004 and there have been no renovations since.
Meet the Lodge at Atlantic Beach team28, June, 2016
The Lodge at Atlantic Beach has a staff compliment of nine, most of whom have been working there for at least four years. The team is led by general manager, Chantal who is confident enough of the team to let them do their tasks without much supervision while she tackles management and problem solving.
The lodge's expectations from the project28, June, 2016
This is not the first time that manager Chantal has considered adopting responsible tourism, or at least water and energy saving measures. The lodge is already separating recyclable waste because this was easy to implement. But bigger changes, particularly investing in energy-saving technology, has proven difficult because Chantal has been inundated with information from contractors, and it was difficult make a decision given the many choices and a limited understanding of the admittedly complicated technicalities.
Also, many of the contractors that pitched their solutions to the lodge did not grasp the peculiarities specific to hospitality. Chantal is hoping that the challenge can help her filter through the many options on offer and identify which technologies are best suited to the business.
Baseline scorecard08, July, 2016
At the start of the project, we went on a site visit to The Lodge at Atlantic Beach and asked many questions about the business’s operations. We used the information provided to draw up this snapshot that acts as a baseline – a picture of what the business is doing at the start of the project. We use this baseline to draft a responsible tourism action plan for the business, basically a plan of what more the business can do to operate responsibly. We will also use the baseline to compare the success of the action plan as time progresses.
Here is a summary of the responsible practices that The Lodge at Atlantic Beach were involved at the start of the challenge.
- Taps are fitted with aerators that limits the volume of water flow.
- All showers have low-flow shower heads.
- Some toilets have dual flush mechanisms and most have small cisterns.
- The garden has mostly water-wise, indigenous plants that need minimal watering. It is only watered when necessary, always before 9:00am and only for a short time.
- Laundry is done only in full loads and then only on short-washing cycles.
- Water leaks and drips are reported immediately for repair.
Using energy efficiently
- Most of the lighting used is energy efficient CFL’s.
- Extra blankets are available on request.
- Geysers temperatures are set to optimise energy use.
- Solar lights are installed in the garden.
- As much as possible, appliances are turned off when they’re not in use.
- Reception staff have a list to check that appliances are turned off in checked out rooms.
- The manager uses the MyCity bus for trips into the Cape Town city centre.
- The manager shops for the lodge on her way in from work, reducing the need for an extra trip.
- The gas heater is used sparingly, and the gas fireplace not at all.
Reducing and managing waste
- Recyclable waste is separated for collection by the municipality.
- Waste that can be reused by others or by the business itself is set aside.
- A choice was made not to use coffee pods.
- Broken appliances like air-conditioners and kettles are kept for spare parts for repairs.
- Breakfast is prepped for the number of guests to reduce food waste.
- Sugar, yoghurt and jam at the breakfast buffet is not provided as single servings.
- Light bulbs are kept aside to be disposed at Pick ‘n Pay drop-off points.
- Cleaning products are bought in bulk and in concentrates that can be diluted.
- Paint used for the interior is low VOC.
- The business supports several charities and causes on an ad hoc basis.
- The business supports causes by donating accommodation vouchers, sponsorships and participating in collection drives.
- Local causes are given preference.
- All new staff are given induction training.
- An appraisals is done annually in which staff give and receive feedback about their job performance.
- Staff members who want to develop their skills are sent on training courses or are signed up for computer courses.
- Staff are taken on educationals to other tourism products.
- Staff receive performance-related bonuses, although this is discretionary.
- Interns from CPUT and local colleges do on-the-job training at the lodge. Depending on the time of year and the length of the internship, this could be paid. The lodge has at least one paid intern per year.
- Most supplies are bought from local businesses.
Operations and management
- Staff are made aware of the need to save water and electricity, and are told of ways to do both. This is mostly verbal and ad hoc.
- The lodge requests guest feedback by email after check-out, and the manager responds to any issues that arise.
- The lodge conforms to a strict set of design guidelines from the association that own the estate on which the lodge is located.
Responsible tourism strengths at the start of the Challenge20, July, 2016
Team work is dream work
The Lodge at Atlantic Beach has an established management and staff team. Chantal Steward has been managing it now for almost ten years, and the most recent addition to the staff has been working at the lodge for four years. This is an enviable position for a tourism business to be in as there’s none of the high staff turnover characteristic of tourism businesses. After many years on the job, staff know the ins-and-outs of their jobs, work efficiently and are more aware of issues in the business. Many of these issues become a team objective, like the need to save water and turn off appliances that are not in use (where practical) so that the lodge’s utility bills are reduced.
Developing your staff
Developing staff skills is not only a part of being a responsible business, it also makes for happy employees. We spoke about why happy employees are important for tourism businesses in the blog post about how to make your staff and business shine. Apart from the manager, The Lodge at Atlantic Beach has only eight staff members in two positions, housekeeping and reception, so there isn’t much scope for job progression. However, employees who want to develop their skills are sent on training courses or are signed up for computer courses. To date, the receptionists have completed a formal reception course at a local college and one receptionist completed an online Microsoft Excel course.
One housekeeper was promoted to reception but only after having asked for it. In a business this small, promoting an employee is also difficult because it can cause tension among staff, so skills training for the purpose of a promotion is only offered if an employee takes the initiative.
All staff are regularly taken on educational trips to other tourism attractions in and around Cape Town so that staff learn more about tourism operations as well as the Western Cape’s attractions.
Training is not only limited to employees. The lodge regularly accepts interns from CPUT and local colleges do on-the-job training at the lodge. Depending on the time of year and the length of the internship, this could be paid and the lodge has had at least one paid intern per year in the previous few years.
Apart from the training it offers, we think that The Lodge at Atlantic Beach has managed to keep its staff for so long because it offers induction training to equip employees to do their job, Chantal and employees give input about their performance and job satisfaction at an annual appraisal, and good work is rewarded with discretionary performance-related bonuses.
Cost-saving responsible tourism practices
Chantal admits that many of her purchases and actions for the lodge is price-driven and this is important for healthy profits. Without realising it, many of these money-saving actions are also sustainable. For example, the lodge does its laundry on-site and the staff know to use cold water cycles on the washing machine and check the tumble dryer regularly to test if the laundry is dry. Laundry is also air-dried as much as possible, and all of these actions are taken solely to reduce the electricity bill – with the upshot of this being that reducing energy use is part of sustainable operations.
Using the bus to reduce hassle – and carbon emissions
The Lodge at Atlantic Beach are the Challenge’s carbon emissions champion, albeit not deliberately. Chantal thinks that driving into the Cape Town city centre and finding parking is a hassle, so she takes the MyCiti bus instead if she has to make the journey. The lodge also encourages guests who haven’t arrived by car to use the bus, going so far as to take them to the bus terminal and showing them how to use the service. Chantal also does shopping on her way to work and combines chores so that there’s fewer car trips she needs to make. In this way, the lodge reduces carbon emissions from transport.
Where to from here?
We recorded existing responsible practices at the Backpackers in Green Point during the first site visit. This helped us establish a baseline which we then used to draft a responsible tourism action plan for the business, basically ideas of what more the business can do to operate responsibly. We will also use the baseline to compare the success of the action plan.
Here are other pictures of the good work the lodge is doing.