In an era where sustainability and social impact are increasingly important in the hospitality industry, Rosewood São Paulo is taking significant strides toward becoming a purpose-led organization.
The hotel recently announced the addition of Lou Ana Garcia, an industry veteran, as its new Social Impact Manager, a newly created position. Garcia will be at the forefront of its drive toward sustainability in the role.
That includes implementing tracking systems for plastic, food waste, water, and carbon, fostering partnerships, and engaging with the local community to support hiring and sourcing initiatives. She will also help educate the hotel's associates on the property's sustainability efforts and promote a workplace that values equality and diversity.
TMR recently spoke to Garcia about her new role, and about the industry’s push toward a sustainable future:
Could you tell us more about your roles as Social Impact Manager at Rosewood São Paulo? What are your main responsibilities and goals?
In my role as Social Impact Manager, I am responsible for driving, educating, and engaging Rosewood São Paulo’s sustainability initiatives. This means educating the hotel’s associates on the property’s efforts in this space, working to implement the tracking of plastic, food waste, water, and carbon, and engaging with the local community to support hiring, sourcing, and partnerships.
Rosewood São Paulo is a unique property with a focus on sustainability. How do you plan to further enhance the property's sustainability efforts in your new role?
It’s truly an honor to be working for a luxury hotel that not only invests in preserving Brazil’s natural environment but also in creating a workplace that prioritizes equality and diversity within its core team.
Over the course of this next year, I look forward to contributing to the property’s already impactful trajectory as a purpose-led business.
The hotel and team are aware of the impact we need to leave on the planet and how resources have to be used, which is why several objectives and milestones are being set to design this journey, one of them being achieving carbon neutrality. Having ambition is necessary to push boundaries and change the course of global warming, which is why involving every stakeholder in this journey is essential, from guests to associates to suppliers.
What types of sustainable practices and initiatives have already been implemented at Rosewood São Paulo?
Occupying the city’s historic former hospital, Matarazzo Maternity, in addition to a striking new vertical garden tower designed by Pritkzer Prize winner Jean Nouvel, Rosewood São Paulo serves as an example of a sustainable development model for the hospitality industry. This property was ten years in the making as every decision was made very carefully, from the materials sourced within Brazil to the 57 Brazilian artists who designed 450 site-specific works for the hotel. Beyond sourcing materials locally, Rosewood São Paulo operates on 100% renewable energy, has eliminated single use plastic from the guest experience, and uses responsible waste management. The hotel has signed a long-term agreement with Multilixo, a company associated with the Zero Waste Training Program, an international alliance aimed at helping businesses find sustainable solutions to waste management with the goal of collectively achieving zero waste. To further cut down on emissions, Rosewood São Paulo has also partnered with Jaguar Land Rover to offer electric vehicles to guests.
How will you work with the hotel's associates to educate and engage them in the property's sustainability initiatives, particularly with small changes?
The first step to be engaged in sustainable initiatives is to gain knowledge of what sustainability means and how our activities impact the planet, which is why training associates is crucial. Training topics include global warming and diversity, and we will be collaborating with experts who will bring their knowledge and experience to increase awareness.
We recently held a three-month training in sign language in which several of our associates participated. They are now better able to communicate with guests who are deaf or hard of hearing, fostering diversity and inclusion. Other sessions will be held in the coming months. Promoting diversity and creating a safe space for employees of all backgrounds, cultures and genders is essential which is why we are in the process of creating an employee resource group to foster communication and engage diverse perspectives.
Could you describe some of the ways in which you plan to engage with the local community to support hiring, sourcing, and partnerships?
The collaboration with local communities has been part of the hotel’s DNA since its construction. We have a collaboration with the Pataxó indigenous tribe, a community located in the south of Estado da Bahia, and they are among many Brazilian artists who have contributed to the hotel’s design. Through this long-lasting bond with the leader, Arassari Pataxó, we seek to immerse guests in the Brazilian cultural identity. We have dedicated an entire wall to their arts and crafts within our Art Library.
Local sourcing has been a major focus from the beginning, with the team choosing to construct the hotel with 100% local wood and marble and buying most of the hotel furniture from local suppliers. This strategy also extends to the hotel’ suppliers, from F&B to amenities, prioritizing sustainability throughout the entire procurement process. We wish to give visibility to local producers who have sustainable initiatives and who value Brazil’s culture.
Partnerships allow us to benefit from a wide range of experts and give back on a more global scale. For example, the hotel is currently working with the NGO SOS Mata Atlantica to donate part of its profits to the reforestation of the most destroyed forest in Brazil. Partnerships are also essential to Rosewood São Paulo’s hiring practices and to empowering the surrounding community through the recruitment of marginalized groups. Thanks to the Brazilian NGO Sefras, the property has hired refugees as well as 20 apprentices across different departments.
What inspired you to join the team at Rosewood São Paulo, and what do you hope to achieve in your new role as Social Impact Manager?
I was very impressed by what Rosewood was already doing with this property and excited about the opportunity to combine both my hospitality expertise and my passion for sustainability to lead the brand’s vision of becoming a purpose-led organization that positively impacts lives.
With this new position, we are seeking to deepen our initiatives, collaborating with a wide range of local stakeholders, and positively impact people and the planet.
Sustainability is a collective effort, which is why I hope that these important initiatives within the hotel will also inspire the Brazilian hospitality industry to set ambitious objectives and achieve new milestones.
Do you think a role like yours will become more common amongst major hotels internationally?
I certainly hope so! Commitment to sustainability, both from an environmental and cultural standpoint, is no longer just a ‘good to have,’ but rather a requirement for this industry. With that, I do suspect we will see more designated roles in this space.