Sustainable Travel International


STEP: Luxury Eco-Certification Standard

  • Do you want to implement more sustainable practices, but aren’t sure where to start?
  • Is sustainability a core part of your business? Are you looking for ways to use it as a competitive advantage?
  • Have you considered other sustainable certification program but feel they are not specifically relevant to the luxury market?

We recognize that luxury accommodations face a specific set of sustainability challenges. Developed in partnership with Leading Hotels of the World and Leading Quality Assurance, the STEP: Luxury Eco-Certification Standard was designed with a deep understanding of the high-quality products and services your customers expect.

A demanding and rigorous approach to differentiate industry leaders, STEP provides a valuable statement of a commitment to sustainability that you and your staff can be proud of, while lowering your long-term operating costs through new efficiencies.

The Luxury Eco-Certification Standard features a set of environmental and social criteria that help properties manage their impacts in six key operational areas:

  1. Policy and Documentation
  2. Business Planning, Workplace Practices, and Guest Experience
  3. Energy Conservation
  4. Water Conservation
  5. Waste and Recycling
  6. Community and Ecosystem Impacts


There are a number of sustainable certification programs out there? Why choose STEP?

  • Globally Recognized: The STEP standard is officially recognized and aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC).
  • Incremental Approach: We provide you with the tools necessary to succeed at your own pace, achieving higher levels of certification over time.
  • Management Tools:  The STEP Sustainability Toolkit gives you the management tools you need to assess your operations, identify industry best practices, and emphasize positive returns
  • Participatory and Collaborative: At each level you’ll be asked to gather input from your staff, guests, and community.
  • Triple Bottom Line: The only luxury standard which includes environmental, social and economic best practices to improve your bottom line and increase market strength.
  • Return On Investment: Businesses that integrate aspects of the standard into their management plans realize cost savings through resource efficiencies, lower operating costs, and supply chain optimization.
  • Adaptability: Perfect for newcomers and seasoned sustainability experts, from boutique hotels to upscale resorts.
  • Flexibility: Submit your own criteria for approval if you do good work in areas not already covered by the program.
  • Accessibility:  STEP is an international standard available in multiple languages, and works well for businesses of all sizes, across all sectors of the travel and tourism industry.
  • Advisory Services:  Sustainable Travel International is staffed with global experts in the fields of sustainability planning and eco-certification.
  • Marketing Benefits: Work with the Sustainable Travel International team to develop your online Sustainability Profile, and collaborate to communicate your efforts to current guests, future visitors and the industry at large.


The STEP Process

The STEP: Luxury Eco-Certification Standard was designed exclusively for the luxury sector.

More than just a checklist of best practices, STEP allows you to measure your impacts, identify your priorities and invest in real change.  You’ll develop policies and action plans in areas relevant to your business, guests, and staff.

Successful businesses ramp up their sustainability investments and make incremental progress over time. Our easy 3-step process helps you set goals, track your progress and plan for the long term.

  • Online Access to the
    STEP Sustainability Toolkit & Self-Assessment
    $250-$750/annual fee Sign up now!

    • 1-2 hour Self-Assessment (required for eco-certification)
    • Benchmarking and Performance Tracking Reports
    • Policy and Guidance Templates
    • 20-page Guide to Sustainability Planning & Reporting
    • Yearly renewal fee includes online access and required annual monitoring
  • Apply for STEP: Luxury Accommodation Bronze Certification
    $250-$750/one-time fee Sign up now!

    • Businesses that complete the self-assessment have the opportunity to apply for the Bronze certification via a remote Desk Assessment. (20-40 hours)
    • Applicants demonstrate evidence of compliance with 20 universally accepted (GSTC) baseline best practices for any tourism business operating sustainably. Examples include:
      • Mission Statement
      • Code of Conduct
      • Legal Compliance
      • Environmental Management Policies
      • Desk Assessment Report: Formal review of above documents, with feedback and advice on sustainability management plan by an accredited STEP Assessor
  • Apply for STEP: Luxury Accommodation Silver/Gold/Platinum Certification via an On-Site Assessment
    Fees vary; $400-$1200/day

    • Sustainability management plan addressing additional criteria beyond the baseline efforts
    • 3rd-Party Assessment
      • Accredited STEP assessor comes on site and spends multiple days performing an objective assessment of operations
      • Receive an in-depth assessment report with qualitative feedback on policies and plan, corrective actions and recognition for your efforts


  • “Discerning independent travelers loyal to The Leading Hotels of the World brand, appreciate having sustainable options available to them, along with outstanding service. Our partnership with Sustainable Travel International ensures that we can offer them the choice of responsible luxury at participating member hotels.”
    -Sharon Ullrick, Manager Resort Marketing Leading Hotels of the World

Are you ready
to tell your
Sustainability Story?

Call or email Sustainable Travel International to schedule a consultation:


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