By Asnah Anver
Hilton Colombo Residences last week announced the launch of a new sustainable initiative ‘Meeting with Purpose’. The platform geared to cater to conferences and meetings, comes as a part of a larger global initiative of the Hilton hotel chain.
‘Meeting with Purpose’ aims to conduct meetings in an environmentally-sustainable manner, integrating the concept of mindfulness, in three areas – namely the meeting facilities, food and beverage experience, and meeting participants or delegates. Accordingly the three areas of focus for ‘Meeting with Purpose’ are ‘Mindful Meeting,’ ‘Mindful Eating’ and ‘Mindful Being’.
Mindful Meeting focuses on the facilities of the meeting venue and how it can be aligned to conserve and preserve.
“Mindful Meeting is all about the environment. How we are going to sustain the environment and have less of an impact on it,” Marketing Manager Thivanka Tennekoon stated.
As a part of this component, there is a specific focus on waste reduction in terms of efficient use of stationery, water bottles, and refreshments, and energy conservation. Thus, all the lightings of the 12,000 square feet Union Ballroom conference space have been converted to controllable/dimmable LED lighting and inverter technology installed in the air conditioners, to limit the energy consumption and the impact on the environment.
The usage of plastic water bottles has also been curtailed, with the residences utilising glass water bottles instead. It was noted that the switch to glass bottles is seen as the first step towards gradually ending the usage of plastic bottles completely, the usage of which previously amounted to 2,000-2,500 per week.
“For us sustainability and the environment is related to plastic. We want to reduce plastic- we actually want to get rid of plastic completely. We have started but it is a very long journey,” General Manager Karim Schadlou stated. The stationery is also set up in a separate table to avoid wastage and unnecessary consumption under this component.
Mindful Eating is based on sustainability and healthy lifestyles, focusing on food that is both healthy and locally produced. “This concept focuses on mindful and healthy eating so that you are aware of what you eat,” stated Assistant Manager – Public Relations Minoli Senanayake.
Thus the food and beverages served under this component are 100% locally harvested, made with seasonal ingredients. For instance the menus feature tuna sourced from down south, crabs and prawns from Negombo, vegetables from the Nuwara Eliya area, and even locally produced cheese, with the aim of supporting fledgling local business and farming communities. “With mindful eating we are looking at the delegate and also the local communities around us,” Senanayake stated.
Recognising that meetings can be very stressful, with delegates confined to a small area from morning to evening, Mindful Being revolves around the delegate, with a special focus on the health of the delegate. Therefore fitness routines and therapies have been incorporated into the program, to ensure that the delegate feels refreshed. Accordingly the component has an in-house instructor to conduct short stretching and yoga sessions as well as three to five minutes massage sessions to ease and relax.
“We’ve incorporated a little bit of fun into this package,” Senanayake stated of this component, which also includes relaxed seating, a foosball machine and mini putting golf, for the delegates to interact, relax and break the ice in between the meetings.
The Union Ballroom was arranged according to these three components for the guests to experience Meeting with Purpose first hand. The conference room was arranged according to Mindful Meeting with seasonal snacks and glass bottles of healthy water placed on two conference tables and the stationery laid out separately.
The buffet was laid with the range of morning and evening coffee/tea break menu under Mindful Eating for the guests to sample. The menu spanned a range of delectable and yet healthy snacks and drinks ranging from fish buns made with kurakkan flour, isso vadai, crab tarts made with crabs from Negombo and rice flour, chicken roti, panini with pol sambol and cheese from Ambewela, kola kanda with jaggery, fresh juices, and tea among many others.
It was stressed that all of these ingredients were local and sourced from within Sri Lanka. Invitees also enjoyed a light moment testing the mini putting golf and the foosball machine set up as a part of Mindful Being, and the in-house instructor demonstrated a few basic stretching exercises.
“We feel that Mindful Meeting, Mindful Eating and Mindful Being together will create more productive meetings for the delegates, organisers and even for ourselves (the hotel),” Senanayake concluded.
Speaking of the packages, the hotel’s food and beverage manager Priyal Wijesuriya assures that the hotel is taking a proactive lead in this area of sustainable meetings in Sri Lanka. “I believe we have the Hilton expertise and touch when it comes to dining; many guests opt for our services and facilities and this innovative meeting package will bring value to forward-thinking companies whose beliefs resonate with ours,” Wijesuriya added.
The environmentally conscious initiative will launch on 30 April. The ‘Meeting with Purpose’ package which includes two coffee/tea breaks and lunch buffets with the option of selecting from a range of food items in the menu, will start from Rs. 3,800 excluding prevailing Government taxes.
It can accommodate anywhere between 20 to 200 delegates. More information on the package and Meeting with Purpose can be obtained from the conferences and events office of the Hilton Residences on 0-115-344-644, firstname.lastname@example.org or via the hotel’s Facebook page.
Schadlou stated that Hilton is now one of the fastest growing hospitality company’s in the world with 14 brands, over 4900 Hilton hotels worldwide, and representation in 107 countries.
Schadlou also noted the recent signing of six new properties in Sri Lanka to begin in 2019-2020, which will mean a further expansion of Hilton hotels in Sri Lanka. These new properties can be expected in Yala, Kosgama, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Katunayake, Negombo and more. The Meeting with Purpose concept will also roll out globally across all 4,900 properties worldwide.
Pix by Ruwan Walpola