The Business Year

Gabriel Llobera

SPAIN - Economy

Gabriel Llobera

Executive Vice President, Garden Hotels

Bio

Gabriel Llobera has been Vice President of CAEB since 2017. He is also President of the Association of Hotel Chains of the Balearic Islands (ACH). He was vice president and former president of AHPM from 2013-2018 and president of FEHM from 2017-2018. He is also a member of the Tourism Group of Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE). Llobera has worked at Garden Hotels since 1987 as General Manager of the company, and as CEO since 2007.

Garden Hotels has been working on sustainable and ecological solutions for a long time and plans to continue for the future of the island. 

Garden Hotels started in 30 years with sustainability being part of its DNA. How has this materialized through your day-to-day practices?

The company was initially a construction company established by my fatherin-law, who placed great importance on sourcing locally. When the company diversified into hotels, this translated into efforts to source food products through local farmers, thus giving greater visibility to Mallorcan traditional products. However, the challenge lied in aligning hotels’ necessities with farmers’ production. This was a long process, and finally in 2015 the first alliance with farmers started focused on growing organic and zero-kilometer products. Farmers could not produce ecological products because they did not have ecological compost, and in light of this, we started using organic waste from our hotels’ activities to generate the compost needed, which has created a virtuous circle that has become a great sustainable practice. This took us a year of working together, and in 2016 we already had a compost product and a finished product swapped with compost. Logically, we need much more than what we can afford with compost, and we buy the difference. This is costlier for us, but the ecological benefits compensate for the costs, which we are not burdening on our end clients. Garden Hotels is providing great quality to the customer, and gradually customers are becoming increasingly more aware of what it means to be sustainable.

What has the geographical expansion of the company been like, and how have you been able to replicate circularity models in other locations?

It has been less difficult than expected. We have been able to replicate the model in Menorca and Ibiza without any problems. Regarding shampoo, from example, we source it from a local artisan. We explained the whole process to him, we provided him with personnel paid for by Garden Hotels to help him, and he created the product that is 100% ecological and local. We created a packaging that is recycled, recyclable, and refillable. With all this, we have managed to eliminate all single-use plastics in our hotels. We already did it in 2019, and with this artisan we are also using local products at the same time. We are looking to replicate this in Huelva as well but have not yet found anyone who wants to do this. We are looking for a product whose packaging is reusable to eliminate all plastics.

What is your general vision of this transformation of Mallorca into a sustainable tourism destination, and what would be your message to other hoteliers?

It is clear that there is no going back on the issue of sustainability; we have to do it for the world. Hotels have to reduce their carbon footprints and bet heavily on this, being highly conscious that we are doing it for the future of our generations. On top of that, tourism offers a great opportunity to repair the damage that has been done already to the planet if more effort is put into it. That is the aim of the so-called regenerative tourism. Garden Hotels is pleased to be implementing ground-breaking initiatives, and we are not secretive or protective of our projects; we want everyone to do the same. If someone knows how we can improve further, tell us and we will improve.

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