Hotel Verde, Cape Town Airport
Will Ross, May 28, 2020
I can’t be the first to person to crave better sports facilities at airports. Even the shortest workout can be a constructive way to kill time ahead of departure, or rejuvenate limbs between connections. With a morning flight from Cape Town following an arrival the day before, I decided to remove complications and book into Hotel Verde, a city airport that has made a visible commitment to the environment. Their oasis offered the prospect of a quick recovery from the flight and a jog to continue with training in the February sun.
Hotel Verde opened in 2016 after spending a year building a new kind of hotel in South Africa, resulting in LEED Platinum certified for design, construction and operations. Significant engineering a decisions were made to limit the footprint to the the building and use its foundations for ground-sourced heating, and its northerly facade for solar PV with vertical wind turbines on the roof. Ground sourced heating involved the creation of 100 boreholes, each to an average 76m depth. Meanwhile passive HVAC systems and regenerative energy for the elevators helps improve efficiencies, and greywater from showers and baths is used to flush toilets, saving 6,000 litres of water each day.
This allowed space for a wetland area on the airport-side of the hotel, one that includes a 400m walking loop, beehives and an eco-sensitive swimming pool (photographed below). For anyone used to their high prices of airport hotels or their very low standards, Hotel Verde redeems.
Though the colour ways and styles of bedrooms are curious, each room is carefully annotated with details that point to the environmental agenda. Low-energy lamp bulbs and devices are clearly marked, and water comes out of the tap as an aerated jet to reduce overall water use. The hotel and its 145 rooms allegedly operate with net-zero carbon emissions, ranging from smaller, winnable rooms for short stays, as well as suites for those looking to stay longer or self-cater.
As well as a continuous 400m, wood chip walking route around a wetland area, the gardens alongside the hotel have a trim trail with a small selection of bodyweight gym equipment. A gym offers some basic equipment, meanwhile in-room massage service is available. Hotel Verde don’t have treatment staff on site – my therapist called around the start of the appointment announcing a 60-minute delay, which meant I had to cancel.
Match all this with a on-site restaurant, Nuovo Restaurant and Bar, serving healthy food throughout the day. An expansive breakfast buffet served from 4:30am is enough to break the back of any jet-lag, especially in the confidence that Hotel Verde grow their own herbs and lettuce, and source additional ingredients from a 160km radius. A la carte dishes include a super food bowl with roasted butternut, cacao nibs, poached pear, avocado (seasonal), grilled zucchini, baby spinach, soya spiced seeds, blueberry dressing. Pasta and pizza mains are available, as well as more South African dishes orientates around game means, Karoo lamb and Hake. See full menu (PDF).
Staying at the airport provides easy access to the vineyards in the direction of Stellenbosch, so its location isn’t entirely about departure terminal access. Jordan Wine Estate is is 30km away and has a restaurant and bakery, so too Cavalli Estate, 5km outside Stellenbosch proper.
If you plan to stay on site as I did, make a note of a Woolworths in the arrivals terminal. This is South Africa’s premium supermarket, not quite as high-end as Whole Foods but on par with M&S.
For more information about Hotel Verde and its environmental initiatives, visit hotelverde.com.