Zero In On Sustainability

by Mahak Mannan | Published 6 months ago

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With sustainability on the rise in the industry, Zero Gravity, one of the leading beach clubs in the region is prioritising its responsibility towards the environment, whether that be through beach cleanups, doing away with plastic or rethinking waste management strategies. We caught up with the general manager, Peter Skudutis on their efforts to drive an environmentally conscious business.

Situated on the beach side of Dubai’s sprawling coast line, Zero Gravity’s general manager PeterSkudutis says the venue is nothing short of a hotel operation, with respect to the size and volume that it handles. The beach club serves an average of 850 guests per day and that number goes up to 2500 over the weekends.

ZG Beach shot 2

“Zero gravity is like a hotel without the rooms,” Skudutis explains. “We have a stewarding department, housekeeping, finance, and security, the only thing we are missing is the rooms department. It is a business that has evolved so much, we started off as a beachfront restaurant, with very limited menu and staff, while today we can have up to 8000 guests over the weekend for our music festivals.”

One thing that Zero Gravity has consciously looked at over the past few months is trying to reduce their impact on the environment, according to the
general manager. “We are looking at our business model to see where change can be made in order to benefit the environment,” the general
manager says.

“We have worked out things that we change immediately, like straws and replaced them with paper alternatives. There was also a large amount of water consumption from plastic bottles by our staff, when we do our big beach festivals, we have up to 700 people running it and each of them is drinking bottles of water throughout the day. We replaced that with reusable bottles and also installed water filling stations around the venue.

“Additionally, we have looked at ways to provide free water to our guests, however, if someone wants bottled water, we charge for that.

“An important focus for us is the educational part, we found that there is so much we can do that we dint know we could, in the past. We first educate ourselves, our colleagues, and teams, on small changes we can do to reduce our impact on the environment and also educate the public. Through this we hope that people take positive decisions towards the environment too. Hopefully, with us setting such a benchmark in Dubai other venues will follow suit.”

One of the most popular initiatives that Zero Gravity does on a regular basis is the We Love Our Beach clean-up campaigns.

“We started the beach clean-up over a year ago and midway through 2018 we opened that up to the public because we had a responsibility being a venue located on the beach to keep our beach and water clean,” Skudutis says.

“We had a great response to our campaign, a lot of companies wanted to get involved like EmiratesNBD, we had regular customers come in to be a part of it, a lot of tourists who travel to Dubai on holiday and were looking to do something positive joined us too. We have seen quite a substantial growth in people joining us for our beach clean-up. We also have divers coming in, so while we do the beach cleaning, they clean the water around the area.

“We are very lucky in Dubai that we have got clean beaches throughout the city. What we do find though is a lot of smaller items like cigarette butts and bottles on the beach along with fishing debris. These are little things that people do not understand impact the environment, but they do.”

we love our beach 1

The venue has also looked at its laundry service and waste management system to further make a different on their carbon footprint.

“We have changed the process of our laundry, all of our staff uniforms and towels used to come wrapped in plastic. We have agreed with our laundry supplier that they can provide us with a dedicated truck that we monitor regularly, which can transport our laundry without being covered in plastic,” he says.

“We have new racks for our staff uniforms to be hung properly that don’t require to be individually covered in plastic. We are still in the process of learning, so we are always looking at aspects that we can change.

“Bringing about this change encourages us to look for alternatives in the market, which means we constantly look for suppliers that can provide us with alternatives which is interesting because there are a lot of things that are still not available in this market but if people like us are going out and asking for them, then there will be a better chance for it being available.

“We also work with a company called Dgrade. We give them all our plastic bottles which they recycle to make thread for clothing, uniforms, and beach bags. It is very positive to see that in recent times there have been some major changes in the industry with respect to being eco-friendly.

The trend of omitting plastic straws was wonderful, but we would like to see more and that is one of the reasons behind our beach campaigns, to encourage others to take similar routes.

“We also believe in the education side of it for which we dedicate specific spots on our social media purely for environmental care because it really does come down to individuals and how we behave.”

THE MARKET

Zero Gravity has several industry firsts to its name, from music festivals to introducing a successful Saturday brunch, according to the general manager.

Peter - potrait photo

“The first thing that Zero Gravity led the way for was doing large scale music festivals on Thursday and Friday, once we started doing it, the market followed. The second thing was our ladies day, where Tuesday day time in Dubai was seen as a challenging period because everyone is at work, people are busy, and tourists are in the malls. We started it as a one off, where we did an activation for International Women’s Day and it rained out, so we postponed it to a week later and had a very positive response. This then led to a regularly weekly event for us, that really changed the way people looked at midweek business.

“Another impossible day was Saturday, when we hold our Supernatural brunch. This started as a deep house musical event which turned out great and we were happy with the results. We then really looked at a value package that provided people with the ultimate day out on a set amount of money. Beach, pool, food, and beverages at a set price, that is where Supernatural was born and within a matter of weeks we were seeing unprecedented numbers come through. Getting those numbers on a Saturday is not easy feat but it continues to date. We were able to make it work and now we are seeing the market follow suit, and it did in a way that the exact pricing and offering is being carbon copied, we see this as a real compliment to what we do.”

However, the current market comes with its challenges according to Skudutis. “Zero Gravity has been successful in creating value for people but what we are seeing now are unsustainable offers being poured into the market on peak nights. There are places offering free shisha, food, and beverages on the weekend, the next thing we know is they would be handing money out for people to come. These are things we do not agree with and I don’t think it is the right path to take,” he says.

“Majority of our footfall is driven through entertainment and DJ’s and in recent times we have seen an incredible increase in the cost of bringing international artists, several thousand per cent increases. This is driven by the high demand across the world and locally it is being driven by an unsustainable pattern. Nonetheless, we still grew our revenue and profits in 2018 because we know the trends in the market. Every day We ask ourselves if we are doing the best we can in order to give guests a great experience for them to come back to us and that is what has driven our success over the years.”









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