First Czech five star hotel wins EU ecological award

The first five star hotel in the Czech Republic has been awarded the prestigious EU-Eco Label award for environmental friendliness. The Hotel Chateau Mcely near Nymburk in the central Bohemian countryside may be luxuriously equipped and charge up to 44 000Kc (2,700 US dollars) a night for it's most exclusive suite, but it is certainly not lavish at the expense of the environment. Every care has been taken to ensure that while guests are pampered and indulged, they are treated in a way which is ecologically responsible as well as. This has meant that the hotel, located in a restored and reconstructed Czech chateau, is now proudly able to show the EU flower mark alongside its five stars. Jamie Brindley spoke to the owner and manger of the project, Jim Cusumano, about how the hotel has gone about setting its environmental standards so high.

"The features that make it environmentally friendly are a number of things. One is that we created an energy system generating hot water and heating the castle, which uses renewable energy sources. Basically what we have is a high technology system that burns spent sawdust from mills. That's one thing, the second is that we put into the castle a system that has its own sewage treatment and which takes the recovered water to water the lawns and the trees throughout the property. We also recycle not only our own waste but also the waste of all of the guests in the rooms. We applied for application to the European Union through the Ministry, and we are one of two hotels in all of central Europe that have the European Union green designation and are five star hotels."

Do you think that your hotel will go some way to abolishing the stereotype that an environmentally minded hotel will be a bit 'rough-and-ready' and not too comfortable? It has after all proved that luxury and a sense of environmental responsibility aren't mutually exclusive.

"That is exactly what I think we have demonstrated- that you have a five star hotel which is luxurious, we have got people coming from all around the world, not just from the Czech market, and yet on top of that we are also a 'green' hotel - so they are not mutually exclusive."

Were you surprised when you found out that you were the first hotel in the Czech Republic to be given this award?

"Yes we were. The reason we obtained it was my wife; she went to a conference and heard a lot of presentations here in Prague about hotels which are 'green' hotels- and they are all one star, two star, three star hotels- and she heard what they did to qualify for the certification and she said 'Oh my Goodness, we've done so much more than that.' So, we applied to the Ministry and they were absolutely astounded to see what Chateau Mcely was doing as a five star hotel, and so they recommended us to the European Union, and in December 2007 we received a designation and a right to use the green stamp."

When your guests arrive at the hotel do they all take an active interest in what you are doing to be more environmentally friendly?

"Yes, actually they do. I've been quite astounded. One thing I notice is that we find people who are interested in a five star hotel, surprisingly, when they find out that they can get the luxury that they are looking for, but also stay in a place which is using less energy and being more friendly to the environment, then they see that as a 'plus'. They are very co-operative, by and large most people are very co-operative in that respect."