Could a carbon-neutral hot air balloon hotel become a reality?

Could a carbon-neutral hot air balloon hotel become a reality?

The Future Hospitality Summit Sustainable Hospitality Award winners hope so

Cornell University impressed the jury at the Future Hospitality Summit’s Sustainability Hospitality Challenge Finals with Nimbus, a luxury hospitality concept comprising carbon-neutral portable hotel rooms attached to hot air balloons. 

The sky-high rooms are designed to deliver guests to the most remote destinations across Neom, the futuristic city-in-the-making located in Saudi Arabia. 

The Sustainable Hospitality Challenge is a Hotelschool The Hague initiative that aims to enhance the evolution of sustainable hospitality and nurture talent on a global scale.

Students presented concepts under the theme ‘Remote’, which was inspired by the principal sponsor Neom in northwest Saudi Arabia, a development that aims to define a new model for sustainable living. 

According to the jury, Nimbus illustrates the level of ingenuity, sustainability and out-of-the box thinking that the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge stands for. 

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Commenting on their win, Cornell University’s Devashish Sharma, Eddy Kohlmann, Eden Brachot and Uddhav Prasad said: “We feel so honoured and excited to be here at the finals representing Cornell University and our hospitality concept. We have made incredible progress with our concept during our SHC journey, we have worked together with various coaches, received feedback from industry experts, and got the opportunity to present during this event. We believe it is great to think about sustainability, but now is the time to put sustainability into practice.”  

Speaking about the project’s viability, Marriott International COO Middle East Sandeep Walia said: “Today’s presentations were brilliant, engaging, and all teams were in sync with what they were presenting. Listening to these fresh ideas, being in the traditional hotel industry, makes you think outside of the box. Some of these definitely have a realistic angle.”


NEOM Hotel Development strategy director and member of the jury, Colin Abercrombie added: "The innovative, sustainable future of hospitality is being created right here. The Sustainability Hospitality Challenge offers a unique setting for students to connect with their peers and the industry’s leading figures, with a shared goal of making a difference that will not only benefit the sector but hopefully the world as well. 

"It was a pleasure to be a part of the judging process, and I look forward to welcoming the team of Cornell University during their trip to Neom and working together to further develop their winning proposal.”

The winning team received a prize package from Neom, including a fully paid trip to the smart city and the opportunity to expand on their concept. As part of its commitment to fostering industry talent, Neom also offered the winning team internship programmes within its sustainability department, while hotel industry leaders Marriott, Radisson, Wyndham and Accor offered mentorship sessions and the chance to meet their respective group CEOs.

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