Sudima Hotels & Resorts has been exalted by its industry at this year’s New Zealand Tourism Awards, claiming the prestigious Environmental Tourism Award, which is sponsored by The Department of Conservation. The prize enhances an already gleaming trophy cabinet for the hotel group, which won two categories and was a finalist in two others at the 2017 New Zealand Hotel Industry Awards.

According to the guidelines for the New Zealand Tourism Awards (which are supported by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA)), the “natural environment is a vital component of the Destination New Zealand brand and a key competitive advantage for New Zealand’s tourism industry. This category recognises an environmentally sustainable tourism business that embraces kaitiakitanga [guardianship and protection for the environment]. They successfully minimise their environmental impact, conserve natural resources, respect local cultures and benefit local communities. They are a financially sustainable and growing business.”

All of this describes Sudima Hotels & Resorts and the teams dedication to sustainability and accessibility, which qualified for the award with a suite of initiatives ranging from the technological to the highly personal:

  • Sudima Hotels & Resorts is the only fully accessible hotel group in New Zealand; staff and culture have been aligned with the national accessibility movement since 2012, when the group facilitated their partnership with Be.Accessible, the national social change organisation;
  • Sudima Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s only CarboNZero rated hotel. It has continued to reduce emissions since its 2014 rating, and Sudima Christchurch Airport is currently being assessed for CarboNZero rating;
  • Sudima Christchurch Airport was the first hotel in the city to install electric car charging stations, and the Auckland Airport hotel also has stations;
  • Since 2013, the group has offered a tertiary scholarship for young Maori of Ngati Whakaue descent. It does more for children: every weekday since 2013, Sudima has served breakfast to hungry schoolkids at Kawaha Point Primary School in Rotorua, where the group has a hotel. Sudima also provides breakfast for Rotorua’s homeless population through Love Soup Rotorua;
  • Immediately after the 2011 earthquake, Sudima Christchurch Airport became an emergency accommodation provider and housed approximately 900 people free of charge. It also provided free accommodation to emergency workers after the Kaikoura earthquake and the Port Hills Fire;
  • Sudima Auckland Airport is one of only five hotels in Auckland to support ATEED’s Youth Employment Pledge;
  • Everyone in the group gets involved with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, hosting ‘wishes’ at hotels and fundraising events such as the ‘I wish I were’ day.

Les Morgan, the Director of Hotels of Sudima Hotels & Resorts, who was himself a finalist for the Tourism Champion Award at the 2017 New Zealand Tourism Awards, says of the Environmental Tourism Award: “It’s a tremendous honour and a reflection of everything we do to lead the industry in sustainability. We take a strategic approach that encompasses management practices, environmentally sustainable and innovative buildings, New Zealand’s only CarboNZero-rated hotel, and agreements with sustainably focused suppliers. People and values are cornerstones of our brand – our customer experience stems from them. Trust, respect and fairness run through the organisation, stemming from our hotel owners, the Jhunjhnuwala family. In all respects, our organisation embodies the notion of kaitiakitanga.”

He also says of Sudima’s environmental and social programmes: “If we benefit from operating in a local community, then the community should benefit too. We believe that as tourism numbers increase, we must reduce our footprint. We believe that success should be shaped by ethical means. We consider ourselves guardians of our staff’s wellbeing. At Sudima Hotels & Resorts, we engage in environmental tourism because it’s good for our business and good for New Zealand.”

Sudima Hotels & Resorts Chief Executive Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala singled out another important honoree – Earl Hagaman, the tourism industry leader who was posthumously awarded the Sir Jack Newman Outstanding Industry Leader Award. Mr Jhunjhnuwala says, “The award is designed to recognise an individual’s outstanding contribution to New Zealand tourism over many years, and it Mr Hagaman was undoubtedly a wonderful ambassador for our industry, representing integrity, care for people and the land, and a championing of everything New Zealand has to offer visitors and travellers.”

The winners of the 2017 New Zealand Tourism Awards were announced at an awards dinner at the Air Force Museum in Wigram, Christchurch on 7 September.

Queenstown Resort College won the Sudima Hotels & Resorts sponsored ‘Tourism 2025 Enabler Award’.