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Going Green in Hospitality — A Q&A About Sustainability Initiatives at Nemacolin

Hands surrounding a four-leafed plant growing from soil

Luxury reimagined and sustainability celebrated — welcome to a new era of refined indulgence at Nemacolin.

Take an exclusive glimpse into the intersection of opulence and eco-consciousness at Nemacolin in this illuminating Q&A conversation with Nemacolin’s director of sustainability. Read about the resort’s commitment to a luxurious yet environmentally responsible experience, our strategic philosophy that showcases how we’re stewarding the environment around the resort, and the forward-thinking strategies and green initiatives we’re incorporating right here in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Headshot image of Nemacolin Director of Sustainability Bret Campbell
Director of Sustainability Bret Campbell

THE NEMACOLIN TIMES: Could you provide readers with a brief bio of your qualifications and a summary of your role at Nemacolin.

BRET CAMPBELL: I was born and raised in central Texas and lived there until completing my Bachelor of Business Administration in finance, at which time I moved to Las Vegas. After earning my dual Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in hotel administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I moved to New York City, where I interned in human resources for Highgate Hotels at ROW NYC before transitioning to housekeeping manager.

I have since worked at the Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond Trump International Beach Resort near Miami, opened the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, and earned multiple triple Forbes Five-Star awards at Ocean House in Rhode Island, as the executive housekeeper, director of housekeeping, and area director of housekeeping and sustainability for the Ocean House Collection.

As the director of sustainability for Nemacolin, I oversee many initiatives and programs from onsite renewable energy generation and solar and electric vehicle infrastructure to plastic elimination and waste diversion.

TNT: Could you share the strategic philosophy behind integrating sustainability measures into the luxury hotel experience at Nemacolin?

CAMPBELL: Recent studies have shown that 80% of all travelers have a desire for products or hotels that have a sustainability component, and they are willing to spend an additional 10% for it. All other things equal, most people will opt for a sustainable hotel versus one that is not if it provides the same level of service.

In working toward building the number one resort in the world, Nemacolin believes in doing it the right way to build a legacy in the Laurel Highlands for generations to come. Measures are being integrated into all aspects of the resort, from an emphasis on purchasing processes and waste management to plastic elimination and cultural activities programming.

TNT: In terms of guest engagement, how do our luxury sustainability initiatives enhance the overall hospitality experience from arrival to departure?

CAMPBELL: The sustainability programs at Nemacolin will affect all aspects of the guest’s stay. Through an array of initiatives, we are modifying facets of the guest stay — such as complimentary bottled water and amenities — to be more luxurious in nature and to simultaneously be more environmentally friendly.

By sourcing high-quality, local artisan goods and services as well as seasonal organic ingredients from the surrounding area, we are elevating the guest experience. In that way, we are proving that ultra-luxury hospitality and sustainability are not opposing forces but are, in fact, harmonious with one another.

TNT: What specific measures have been implemented to ensure a seamless balance between opulence and eco-conscious practices for our discerning clientele?

CAMPBELL: Transitioning our operations to be more sustainable while maintaining luxury is paramount to our success. Our partnership with Palatino Group has allowed us to provide plastic-free, ultra-luxury reusable amenities in place of single-use plastics. Our relationship with Gilchrist & Soames has resulted in a signature scent for Nemacolin that is eco-friendly as well as provided in large refillable containers versus individual travel sizes resulting in less waste and emissions while providing a more luxurious experience. There’s more to come.

TNT: How does the hotel stay abreast of evolving sustainability trends and integrate them into our operational framework?

CAMPBELL: I am a member of several sustainability organizations and newsletter groups, and I devote about 15% of my time to researching new technologies, materials, industry best practices, and guest preferences. Additionally, I annually attend a leading conference for sustainability to see technologies and meet potential partners to improve initiatives at the resort.

TNT: Discuss any certifications or partnerships with eco-friendly organizations that we currently hold or are seeking to hold which validate our commitment to sustainability, providing transparency to our guests.

CAMPBELL: Nemacolin has partnered with Audubon International to obtain verification of our environmental practices across multiple facets of the property. Each hotel is seeking a Green Lodging certification while several of the activity areas are seeking Green Hospitality certification. Both golf courses are seeking Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf certification, of which less than 1% of golf courses worldwide are designated. The section of the stream at Case Brown Cottage [one of the fly fishing spots used by the Rod & Range Club] on Meadow Run is also seeking to become a Cooperative Sanctuary.

Additionally, Nemacolin is working on partnerships with several other organizations including Beyond Green (part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts), Green Key, and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.

TNT: Are there upcoming sustainability projects or advancements that guests can anticipate soon as part of our ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility?

CAMPBELL: There are many exciting projects on the horizon here at Nemacolin for 2024, as part of our continued commitment to our associates, the local community, and the surrounding Laurel Highlands. We have just begun utilizing artificial intelligence in our kitchens to mitigate food waste as part of our goal of having Net Zero Waste across Nemacolin by 2025. To that end, we will also be integrating closed-loop composting on the resort’s property which will be able to process 2,000 pounds of combined food waste, landscape and golf clippings, and wildlife manure daily. This compost will be repurposed on the property for landscaping applications.

Additionally, we will be increasing our capacity for biodiesel production by installing a conversion system on the property. The biodiesel will be used to fuel turfgrass equipment for our golf courses and landscaping teams. We will also be installing electric vehicle chargers at the associate parking lot.

TNT: Reflecting on our sustainability journey, what advice would you give to other luxury hospitality establishments looking to embark on a similar path without compromising their brand essence?

CAMPBELL: Sustainability is just that, a journey. And while the roadmap for many journeys is set, the road to sustainability is constantly changing. My advice would be to be flexible and understand that just because something isn’t possible today, doesn’t mean it won’t be possible tomorrow. Don’t abandon ideas but rather table them. Do your research and due diligence, and constantly look for ways to raise the bar. While industry trends have shown that there is a desire for sustainable hotels, they also show affluent guests are not willing to sacrifice luxury to stay at one.

Sustainability at Nemacolin

Read more HERE about sustainability and eco-friendly practices at Nemacolin where our cornerstones are energy efficiency, resource conversation, culinary initiatives, and health and wellness initiatives. There’s more to come, so stay tuned.

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