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Skål International, a member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation has announced The Rees Hotel Queenstown as winner of the Urban Accommodation category in its global awards for the property’s sustainability and environmental initiatives 2018-202.

The Rees Hotel was first recognised with this award in 2018; it was also the first time an entrant from New Zealand has won the award from the travel and tourism body formed in 1934 that recognises outstanding leadership.

Based on the declaration of the United Nations in 2002, Skål International launched its own ‘Sustainable Tourism Awards’ the same year, to spotlight best practices globally. The Awards are open annually to all public and private sector companies, educational institutions, NGOs, and government agencies.

Evaluation for the 2020 Sustainable Tourism Awards was carried out by three independent judges. The entries achieving the highest score in each category is declared winner. The winners of the 2020 Awards were officially announced yesterday, during the virtual General Assembly of Skål Clubs Delegates.

Eight categories were awarded: Community and Government Projects, Countryside and Biodiversity, Educational programmes and Media, Major Tourist Attractions, Marine and Coastal, Rural Accommodation, Tour Operators-Travel Agents, Tourist Transport and Urban Accommodation

The Rees Hotel, a proudly New Zealand owned and operated independent luxury property with 60 hotel rooms, 90 apartments and five Lakeside Residences on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, won best ‘urban accommodation’ out of 44 entries from 25 countries.

In June The Rees submitted significant evidence to meet the strict judging criteria that looked at tangible, measurable benefits to the environment, climate change mitigation, nature and native animal preservation/conservation, carbon off-setting, waste management, culture preservation, local employment socio-economic benefits and how The Rees promotes sustainable tourism practices.

Even during the pandemic lockdown, The Rees implemented a new initiative with local partner Windy Ridge Milk to supply milk to the hotel in recyclable glass bottles, saving 13,000 plastic bottles from landfill annually.

Mark Rose, CEO of The Rees Hotel, says, “This is the big one for us as it highlights our incredibly strong ‘green mind-set’ backed by a collective commitment with our company-wide stewardship programme that spans from our Board to across our entire team to be conscious about our impact on both our environment and community”.

“We reward critical thinking that reduces our carbon footprint and as a result we’ve minimised waste, developed efficiency strategies and responsible initiatives with the intention to be the best corporate citizen within the broader community in which we live; Queenstown, New Zealand’s most popular tourism destination.”

“Skål International has over 13,500 members in over 100 countries with direct ties to the United Nations – so it’s a major honour to be recognised by them for the second time, and especially during such a challenging year with this substantial vote of confidence for our standards, by our peers on the world stage.”

In 2009 Skål International entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations to align with the Environmental Programme of the global organisation. saying it is, “a powerful force in the travel and tourism industry to initiate change and encourage the conservation of the environment in order to promote tourism and travel.”

The intention of the world awards in sustainable tourism, says Skål International, “is to maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them.”

The Rees Hotel, an independent, stylish, luxury property has consistently been internationally recognised and awarded for excellence including receiving New Zealand Tourism’s top Qualmark 5 Star Hotel & Gold Business Tourism Sustainability Award in 2018, 2019 extended to 2020 and ‘Best NZ Hotel’ three years running  (2017 /18/19), in the annual Australasian HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence, along with awards for service, for its fine dining restaurant True South, for creativity and execution by executive chef Corey Hume and for its wine list.

The hotel is a leader in community service and sustainability initiatives, constantly striving to maintain and further develop the high standards it has set in the New Zealand hospitality industry.