“Bill Clinton should have stayed here, I’ll tell him this afternoon”, reads a year 2000 guest book entry by East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta. Right he is. Few places make it more difficult to leave in the morning and such a pleasure to come back at night than Ponsonby’s great art hotel bed&breakfast. Only a few meters off the main street in hip and trendy Ponsonby, Auckland, Gerard Hill (Gerry) and Sally James have created a true home away from home, a cosy, friendly sustainability haven.
Unlike many other hotels still coming to grips with growing ‘green’ demand and expectations, sustainability and environmental care have always been an integral part of Auckland’s one and only boutique hotel. “It’s the way we’ve always done things here” shrugs Gerry, just before he heads off to a local community meeting. He certainly knows what he’s talking about. Not only are both Gerry and Sally founding members of Oxfam New Zealand, the couple has also helped set up New Zealand’s tourism quality certification (Qualmark). Running a hotel business sustainably should be common sense, says Gerry, who also runs a blog on Auckland, Ponsonby, travels and his involvement in local heritage work. “We realize our business impacts on the wider environment in which we live and depend on and so we and our staff try to minimize our impact without compromising our guests enjoyment or comfort”. After two nights, two breakfasts and a thorough look around, my partner and I can honestly say: Great Ponsonby, mission accomplished!
Unbeatable hospitality aside, what makes this hotel so sustainable and ‘green’? For starters – first time I see this in any hotel – the great ponsonby art hotel encourages its guests to counteract their carbon footprint by helping reforest Motuihe Island, some 30 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland – a practical and sensitive way to raise awareness about travellers’ impact on Global Warming.
Other sustainability practices include wool insulation, under floor natural gas heating, curtains with thermal lining, no air-conditioning (it’s not needed), own herb garden, worm farm, eco-products (highly biodegradable and made from sustainable resources) used for guest amenities, laundry, cleaning. Free range, organic eggs, fair trade coffee, recyclable paper with vegetable inks, biodegradable rubbish bags in rooms… The list is long and – though encouraged they are – I seriously struggle to come up with additional suggestions. The small Great Ponsonby. No doubt, Bill Clinton would have liked it, and so will you.