Web Exclusive: Aqua-Aston ramps up green efforts

Honolulu-based hotel management company Aqua-Aston Hospitality has moved forward with a number of company-wide sustainability initiatives, such as eliminating single-use plastic by turning to bulk bathroom amenities, as well as renovating its Aqua Palms Waikiki with LED lighting and an energy-saving AC unit.

“Sustainability always has and will continue to be a top value for us at Aqua-Aston Hospitality,” said Rhonda Khabir, SVP, sales and marketing, Aqua-Aston Hospitality. “As one of Hawaii’s largest hospitality groups, we know how important it is to minimize our environmental impact. We have spent years advocating for issues like cultural preservation and reef protection—even helping persuade local lawmakers to ban sunscreen with harmful chemicals in 2018.”

She pointed out that Aqua-Aston is one of the first Hawaii hospitality management companies to move away from small-bottle bath products. The move came just as the Hawaii State Legislature is currently reviewing House Bill 1645, which would prohibit lodging establishments from providing personal care products in small plastic bottles.

“While banning small bottles may seem like a small impact, every bottle makes a difference,” said Khabir. “By introducing an industry-wide shift to bulk amenities, the hospitality world can save a significant amount of plastic waste. The bill also further encourages travelers to the Hawaiian Islands to be stewards of the environment. Before the bill has even passed, we have already made this shift to bulk bathroom amenities across our 25-plus properties, and we’re excited to see others in the hospitality industry follow in our footsteps.”

The company is also working with a local reef-safe sunscreen company, Little Hands Hawaii, to provide chemical-free sunscreen to all of its guests.

“It was important for us to work with a Hawaii-based company so we could support our community and introduce the product to our guests traveling from the U.S. mainland and beyond,” she said. “Little Hands Hawaii began when founder Rosalyn Ardoin could not find a chemical-free sunscreen for her kids and the environment. The product is organic, plastic-free and FDA-approved. At Aqua-Aston, we operate in the belief that our responsibility extends beyond our guestroom doors. Our guests receive free sample sizes of the product, available at the front desk, to take with them and use during adventures across the destination.”

On the property level, the recently renovated Aqua Palms Waikiki partnered with renewable energy company Ameresco to improve the building’s overall efficiency.

“Updates to the property included the installation of efficient LED lighting, an upgrade to the hotel’s cooling system and a water conservation process to collect condensation from AC units to water potted plants,” said Khabir. “The changes have significantly reduced the boutique hotel’s energy consumption by 45% and the efforts help contribute to Hawaii’s 2045 carbon neutrality goal. Aqua Palms’ sustainability renovation has also brought 310,808 kWh annual energy savings to the property.”

On Maui, Aston at Maui Kaanapali Villas completed a year-long sustainability project last year, which helped the resort cut CO2 emissions by more than 30%.

“The amount is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 26,434 barrels of oil, 2,173 passenger vehicles or energy supplied to 967 homes for a year,” she said. “All these encouraging data points tell us that hotels and resorts, big and small, can work to make these shifts for the betterment of our environment.”