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Friday, March 1, 2024

Sustainability pioneers: Stephan Bode from SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA

Green Pearls® regularly introduces personalities promoting sustainable development in tourism. Part twelve of the series “sustainability pioneers” is about Stephan Bode from SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA.

Blame the steak – finding at the stove

Simple and yet important: An organic sirloin steak triggered Stephan Bode’s sustainable career. The steak did not shrink as much as conventional steaks did in the pan, and kept its initial size. The quality convinced him and aroused interest in organic food – hence, the first step towards a more sustainable life and work had been taken. Further steps in his private life followed, such as quitting smoking and working out more. At that time, Stephan Bode had no idea these small changes in his life would lead to his own sustainably managed 4* S hotel including a sustainability officer. However, the change of thinking had begun and paved the way for a green hotel practice step by step.

Green in the Black Forest

In 2013, he became manager of the hotel Rulands Thermenhotel in Bad Herrenalb. Soon, he renamed the hotel in SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA – inspired by the impressive panoramic view of the forests and mountains surrounding Bad Herrenalb. The new name was accompanied by a new, sustainable strategy; a matter of course for Bode, since he had already transformed another company into an eco-friendly conference hotel. His experience gained at the Bio-Seehotel in Zeulenroda in Thuringia helped him at SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA, because he already knew how to convince regional suppliers and farmers of an ecological practice or how to organize climate-neutral events. Enthusiastically, creative combined with pioneering spirit, he and his dedicated team have since implemented various sustainable projects in the hotel, such as a social cooperation with Global Family Charity Resort. Another important step followed in 2017 when he acquired the hotel. At the same time, they agreed to DNK’s (German Sustainability Codex) voluntary self-commitment and signed the WIN Charter of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Thoroughly sustainable

The enthusiasm and enjoyment of implementing sustainable practices daily is transported by Stephan Bode and the SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA. “I care about humans and our natural habitat,” he explains. Ensuing his crucial moment, culinary delights still play an extraordinary role at the hotel: the cuisine of SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA is characterized by Slow Food, regional and organic ingredients, base fasting, zero waste buffets and more. Besides the restaurant, eco-friendly initiatives are a common theme of the concept. The cleaning agents are biodegradable, suppliers guarantee short hauls and little packaging, and their own gardens and raised beds are kept as natural as possible to promote species protection. Moreover, guests can stay completely climate-neutral and decline daily room cleaning.

Black Forest Selfness

At SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA sustainability not only refers to the everyday hotel business, but also to the promotion of health. Together with the adjoining health campus, the hotel’s selfness and health concept offers guests a wide range of treatments for body, mind, and soul: pure relaxation can be found at the generous spa area, nutritional and detox cures, forest bathing, yoga and traditional Chinese medicine are offered alike, accompanied by experts of the health campus providing for a long-lasting mindfulness.

Ambassador for “Meaningful actions”

The sustainable strategy is received well at all levels, underlined by numerous awards and certifications, feedback from guests and employees: over the years, occupancy rate and sales as well as the number of employees have doubled. Bode is driven by his motto “economic growth through ecological, meaningful actions.” He is always looking for opportunities to do good and become better in every respect. That is why motivating and further training his team is particularly important to him.

The team as the key to success

“For many years I have been driven by the desire to create meaningful living and working environments. As a person and entrepreneur, I would like to be involved in inspiring and encouraging employees in their personal development.” Therefore, various programs and initiatives ensure good team work as well as additional sustainability training: for instance, the DVD rental service for employees, which enables them to easily obtain information with the help of various environmental documentaries. Regular team trainings, such as waste separation crash courses or upcycling workshops, inspire employees to recycle. Moreover, new ideas constantly arise from the hotel’s own “eco office,” such as the introduction of a Veggie Day in the canteen.

A look ahead in the future

Stephan Bode, winner of the B.A.U.M. Environmental Award and Spirit at Work Award, has achieved a lot with SCHWARZWALD PANORAMA. However, his own success is not satisfactory. Bode is certain the future of tourism is sustainable: “In general, I wish tourism providers, especially hotels and restaurants, would integrate a sustainable development 100 % into their value chains and understand that the current system won’t work out in the long run. Firstly, they are destroying their own livelihoods and business fundamentals, and secondly, I hope that the frequently quoted ‘hospitality’ will also be understood as ‘being a guest oneself’ on Mother Earth.”

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