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Sustainable luxury: from an oxymoron to a tautology – the case of the Indian luxury hospitality industry

Sonia Bharwani (VFS Global Academy, Mumbai, India)
David Mathews (Trident Bandra Kurla, Mumbai, India)

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 4 April 2023

Issue publication date: 23 May 2023




In the context of heightened awareness and understanding of responsible tourism, it has become increasingly imperative for luxury hotels to introspect on the impact of their operations on environmental and social sustainability. This study aims at examining the prevalence and growth of sustainability practices in the Indian luxury hotel segment as it increasingly competes on a global platform.


The research approach adopted in this paper is qualitative and emic. Primary data is gathered for the study through semi-structured interviews with select luxury hotel general managers from four hotel chains of Indian origin – ITC Luxury Hotels, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Taj Hotels and Palaces and The Leela – to gain an insight into sustainability initiatives adopted in the Indian hospitality industry. Secondary research data regarding the eco-friendly, green measures implemented in these hotels is collected primarily from the websites of the respective hotel chains and supplemented by review of academic literature, media articles, industry reports and company press releases.


The findings of the study reveal that Indian luxury hotel brands are increasingly adopting green products and integrating innovative sustainability practices in their day-to-day operations. However, several of these initiatives are in the non-customer-facing domains such as the engineering and back-of-the-house operations. Very few Indian hotel chains are building these sustainability initiatives into their core philosophy and embedding it in the front-line customer service experience at their properties to reinforce the green image of the hotels.


The paper also proposes the 6Cs Framework of Sustainability that can be utilised to categorise the green sustainable practices adopted in responsible hotels in a simplistic manner under six broad verticals. Practitioners, researchers and educationists in the hospitality industry would find the implications of this study useful in the context of a post-pandemic world where sustainability is influencing consumer choices across industries in today’s eco-conscious and enlightened business and marketing environment.



Bharwani, S. and Mathews, D. (2023), "Sustainable luxury: from an oxymoron to a tautology – the case of the Indian luxury hospitality industry", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 231-248.



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