Harnessing Geothermal Energy Brings Benefits to Hotels and Environment


While debate on carbon footprints and environmental sustainability are increasingly gaining traction world-wide, the Novotel Rotorua Lakeside has quietly been using an environmentally sustainable source of energy since it opened in 1996.

The hotel uses natural geothermal resources that are, quite literally, beneath their feet. Importantly this means that there is no boiler system, which are usually powered by diesel, petrol, coal or gas and so, there are no harmful artificial gases being discharged into the atmosphere.

“This system of heating is a unique feature of the properties especially when compared to other Accor hotels in New Zealand.  I believe we are the only hotel with this energy source in the Asia Pacific area,” says General Manager, Klaus Gottschalk. “This means we are not heavy users of other, less sustainable types of energy, such as electricity.”

The adjacent property Hotel Ibis Rotorua, opened just over three years ago, also uses the same energy source.

There are three bore holes on the property that provide geothermal fluid from the ground which reaches temperatures of between 110 degrees Celsius and 120 degrees Celsius.  Of the three bores, only two are ever used at any one time, with the third providing back up.

Heat exchangers utilize the geothermal fluid to provide hot water for all domestic use in the hotels, heating all the ‘heating cycles’ of the air-conditioning systems, and heating of the swimming and spa pools in the Royal Spa and Fitness Centre. In addition geothermal water is used for the five geo-thermal plunge pools on site. 

This special form of energy requires specialist skills, skills which Maintenance Manager Norman Deane Turner has developed over the years.  “The previous Chief Engineer passed on his knowledge to me.  He had learned much about geothermal heating systems through working at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which uses hydrotherapy to treat their patients”.   According to Norman a key requirement of using the geothermal energy is to re-inject the used geothermal water back into the bore to maintain the underground water table.

The Novotel Rotorua Lakeside is a member of the Rotorua Sustainable Tourism Charter. The hotel has undertaken a five step process that demonstrates sustainable business practises that contribute to conserving the physical and the socio-cultural environment. The process involved completion of a Preliminary Sustainability Assessment, an on-site visit by an assessor and commitment to a Statement of Intent to undertake certain actions over the next year.

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