It’s no joke: A vegan walks into a hotel room…. and there’s a moose head over the bar and a leather chair in the lobby.
The bed has a leather headboard and a wool throw, and the in-room dining menu and mini-bar is a minefield of animal body parts and their bodily fluids.
Now, animal lovers can literally rest easy in two newly-created vegan guest rooms in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. Debuting in this month, beds are outfitted entirely in vegan linen with no feather pillows or duvets; there is no leather, wools, or silk used in the room, anywhere.
In the bathroom, vegan toiletries await; and a vegan minibar — much wine and beer making involves egg or fish products — and a vegan in-room dining menu add up to a cruelty free stay.
“We’re seeing a notable rise in veganism’s popularity,” Michael Koth, Emirates Palace’s general manager told the Post. “Supermarkets are well-stocked with plant-based products, international airlines offer vegan meal options, and even luxury car brands are debuting leather-free interiors. Veganism is omnipresent in our daily life and continues to drive societal changes. So why not offer a vegan luxury hotel experience?”
A bonus of offering vegan rooms, he said, “is the suitability for hyper allergenic guests and their very particular health requirements.
“The biggest learning curve for us is the level of detail in consideration and orchestration of the vegan guest’s journey,” he added.
For vegan travelers, this is a welcome shift from putting up, but not shutting up.
“I have a level of acceptance when I travel, but I use that to accelerate my own activism,” said Lizz Truitt, marketing and communications director for the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, NY, which opened Gray Barn, a vegan inn, in April 2019.
“Interest is very high,” said Truitt of guest bookings. “We are usually at about 70% occupancy every month and the proceeds fund our animal rescue work. A stay here is an act of giving.”
Vegans and carnivores are welcome, but she added, “guests at the Gray Barn follow vegan rules whether they are vegan or not.”
In 2019, England’s Hilton London Bankside opened its first vegan suite with soft bamboo rugs on bamboo flooring, non-feather bedding, a vegan in-room dining menu, and a hand-embroidered headboard covered in leather-lookalike Piñatex, made from pineapple fiber. In the bathroom, Prija, a luxurious vegan aromatherapy hotel toiletries range, means guests feel pampered.
Everything, even down to housekeeping’s cleaning products, is vegan.
“I met a client in Washington DC who is passionate about plant-based living. He asked, ‘Why not create a vegan room?’” said James Clarke, the hotel’s general manager. “We want to be inclusive of all of our guest’s choices. So, we partnered with the Vegan Society in the UK. I learned a lot about what this lifestyle choice entails. That was three years ago and the room has gone from success to success.”
So why hasn’t the hotel added more vegan rooms?
“Mr. Pandemic came on and shut us down,” Clarke said. “We are just crawling out of it now. When world travel starts up again, I have no doubt we will do more.”
Alex Ferri, CEO and founder of PalmaÏa – The House of AÏA, a sustainability focused beachfront resort on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, thinks the pandemic caused many people to change how they live.
“Sustainability and health is becoming a big driver in travelers opting for a plant-based stay,” said Ferri. “All of our rooms are plant-based, and we furnished them without feather or leather. We don’t refer to them as vegan, more as sustainable. Most people who book don’t realize the room is cruelty-free.”
But he add that there are gray areas when it comes to creating a fully vegan hotel.
Ferri feels strongly about supporting local Mayan bee keepers, but overall, he sees plant-based or even veganism as the sensible way forward: “For humans, non-humans, and the planet, this makes sense.”