QALIA Standard & Criteria Indicators


100 criteria to benefit the planet, people and prosperity

Specifically tailored to be implemented within luxury vacation rentals, the QALIA standard includes 100 criteria under Four Pillars and three levels of recognition. The applicable indicators vary by level of certification, their applicability based on local legal requirements as well as other structural factors. The QALIA standard is reviewed once a year to incorporate new practices.

The criteria are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and consider the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Industry Standard as well as the Travalyst framework for accommodation.

We have used our 20 years of experience in operating and marketing stand-alone luxury properties to precisely tailor the criteria and make them rewarding and achievable. As such, QALIA considers all aspects of a property infrastructure, operations and the guest experience.

For more details, click each arrow in the table to open the relevant criteria list, or download our criteria overview and certification policy.

For mobile users, please download:

our criteria overview

and certification policy.

Pillar I:

Pillar II
Community &
Cultural Heritage

Pillar III:
Ethical Business

Pillar IV:
Guests Well-Being & Experiences

Discover our Criteria for each Pillar (click on arrows)

Pillar I: Environmental Stewardship

Ref.CriteriaCompliance IndicatorRequired EssentialsRequired AdvancedRequired ExcellenceOptionalSDGs
I.1Electric car charging stationsOffer charging stations for electric cars or provide a list of nearby charging stations (when available in the destination)   7
I.2Renewable energy usageContract with an electricity supplier that provides renewable sources of energy, being solar, wind, and other sources (when available in the destination)   7
I.3Energy-efficient air conditioningBedrooms with stand-alone A/C have energy-saving switches, such as motion sensors or temperature admin control   7
I.4Efficient heating systemsUse the most efficient stand-alone heaters and/or smart thermostats and/or inverter systems   7
I.5Energy-efficient appliancesUse energy-efficient appliances with EU A/B/C rating, US Energy Star, or international equivalent   7
I.6Smart lighting systemUse a smart lighting system to reduce energy consumption at night and/or when rooms are unoccupied   7
I.7Windows with heat-reducing featuresInstall double-glazed windows or sun protection screens (including awnings) to reduce heat exposure or transfer. Excluding properties without temperature control systems (e.g., AC or heaters)   13
I.8Hybrid or electric vehiclesUse hybrid or electric vehicles for property operations and/or guests services   13
I.9Renewable backup power systemPower backup system uses renewable energy, replacing fuel-powered generators   7
I.10Comprehensive use of insulation materialUse comprehensive insulation material to support temperature control systems and reduce energy consumption    7
I.11Integration of heat pumps for heating or coolingIntegrate heat pumps (air, water, or ground source)   7
I.12Swimming pool cover for energy conservationUse a pool cover to reduce evaporation and improve temperature control, thereby reducing the energy required to heat the swimming pool   7
I.13Use a variable-flow swimming pool pumpUse a variable flow pump for the pool to reduce energy consumption   7
I.14LED lightingLED lighting constitutes 80% of the property’s lighting   7
I.15Climate-conscious email marketing softwareUse a sustainable email marketing software (e.g.,,   9
I.16Eco-friendly web hostingUse eco-friendly web hosting that is using renewable energy to power its servers   9
I.17Greywater recyclingRecycle grey water mechanically when available in the destination (e.g., via a government-approved treatment system), or using a natural process for safe release in the ground   6
I.18Refillable bathroom amenitiesUse refillable bulk dispensers for bathroom amenities, replacing single-use plastic containers   12
I.19Reusable drinkware for outdoor useUse reusable plastic/acrylic cups for outdoor use, replacing single-use plastic glasses   12
I.20Recycling awareness for guestsHave a recycling plan in place for at least three waste types (glass, paper, plastic, organic)   12
I.21Reducing single-use packagingThe property has a plan in place to reduce or eliminate all single-use packaging (plastic, paper, cardboard) from its supply chain and guest experience or has a strict recycling plan in place   12
I.22Waste separation and instructions for employees and/or service providersProvide instructions on how to separate and handle waste, readily available to employees or service providers in an understandable and simple format in their own language   12
I.23Water-efficient showersUse water-efficient showers, such as smart showers or low-flow shower heads and connectors   6
I.24Smart irrigation system for gardenUse a smart irrigating system for the garden, such as drip systems, rain sensors, or timers   6
I.25Rainwater harvesting for garden irrigationCollect rainwater to support garden watering during dryer seasons   6
I.26Towel re-use programme for guestsOffer a towel re-use programme to guests when regular cleaning/towel change services are provided   12
I.27Less frequent linen change option for guestsProvide guests with the option of a less frequent linen change when regular cleaning/linen change services are provided   12
I.28Water-efficient toiletsUse water-efficient toilets, such as low-flow toilets or dual-flush toilets   6
I.29Embracing wildlife harmonyEnsure that wild animals are not displayed, interacted with, or kept captive unless abiding by local and global wildlife protection laws   15
I.30Recycling green wasteUtilize garden refuse as compost, refraining from burning it, on or off-site   12
I.31Nurturing native beautyEstablish green spaces adorned with 80% native and endemic plant species and/or plants adapted and non-invasive to the environment   15
I.32Pesticide-free gardeningAbstain from using chemical pesticides and fertilizers unless there’s no available organic or natural alternative in the destination   12
I.33Champions of local biodiversityActively engage in initiatives to safeguard local biodiversity and wildlife preservation   15
QALIA Framework V2.1 January 2024

Pillar II: Community and Cultural Heritage

Ref.CriteriaCompliance IndicatorRequired EssentialsRequired AdvancedRequired ExcellenceOptionalSDGs
II.1Embracing local causesMaintain a list of volunteering opportunities in the destination for Guests and/or staff (when available in destination)   11
II.2Purpose-led towel re-use programOffer a towel re-use program to guests when regular cleaning/towel change services are provided, with savings donated to a charity of their choice   12
II.3Purpose-led linen change frequency programProvide guests with the option of less frequent linen change when regular cleaning/linen change services are provided, with savings donated to a charity of their choice   12
II.4Carbon emission offsetsCompensate a share or the entire annual carbon emissions by purchasing certified carbon offsets   13
II.5Active support to communities and sustainability projectsAllocate a share of revenue back into the community or in local/regional/global sustainability projects, specifying the percentage or yearly revenue and project names   8
II.6Responsible tourism activitiesDo not promote tours or activities involving the use of wild animals, excluding conservation programs   15
II.7Promotion of eco-friendly activitiesIdentify and primarily promote eco-friendly and / or low-footprint activities as well as nearby parks, and nature conservation areas in the destination   13
II.8Eco-friendly transportation optionsWhen the destination has clear bicycle lanes, offer bicycle rental and / or electric bicycle charging stations and / or promote the use of alternative transport means when available in the destination   11
II.9Supporting locally owned and operated businessesProvide guests with tours and activities organized by local guides and businesses   8
II.10Visitor etiquette and local customsProvide guests with information regarding visitors’ etiquette and customs in the destination   11
II.11Cultural informationProvide guests with information on local artisans, heritage, and culture   11
II.12Monitoring guests satisfactionAllow guests the opportunity to review the property, with questions that will include sustainable practices   12
II.13Impact leaderAssign one staff member as the impact leader responsible for measuring and reporting performances and progress   8
II.14Wheelchair accessible or fully PRM-friendlyProvide wheelchair accessibility or be fully suitable for Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM)   11
II.15Sustainable decorationUse plants in pots for decoration, replacing cut and / or plastic flowers and plants   12
II.16Local partnerships & synergiesCooperate with local tourism businesses and / or public offices to increase awareness and create common strategies, plans and practices   8
II.17Eco-friendly cleaningUse 100% natural and / or eco-friendly cleaning products   6
II.18Fairtrade or local coffee, tea, and chocolateSource coffee, tea, and chocolate from fair trade suppliers or local producers, depending on the destinations   8
II.19Non-polluting laundryUse 100% natural and non-polluting washing products (for in-house and / or contracted laundry services)   6
II.20Transparency in food sourcingWhen cooking services or a pre-stocking list are provided, indicate when ingredients are organic and / or homemade and / or locally produced with storytelling about local suppliers such as farmers, fishermen and butchers.   12
II.21Food waste policy and awarenessImplement a food waste policy and staff training as well as provide information to guests to raise awareness   12
II.22Marine life-friendly sun protectionProvide information and suggest alternatives to guests regarding harmful sun protection creams and give guidance on choosing alternative brands in your welcome guide or supply sun creams at the property   14
II.23Sustainable decorationUse a combined minimum of 70% of sustainable and/or locally-made and/or upcycled and/or second-hand and/or planet-friendly items for decoration and soft furnishings   12
II.24Seasonal fruits & vegetablesWhen meals are provided, exclusively offer seasonal fruits & vegetables to guests and provide knowledge and awareness on seasonality   2
II.25Supporting local artistSome of the local artists’ artwork is part of the decoration or is temporarily displayed, with the artists’ bio   11
II.26Chemical-free swimming pool filtersUse non-chemical processes for swimming pool filters (salt, ionic copper, ozone filtering systems)   6
II.27Preservation of local design styleThe property overall design follows the local style to preserve the architectural heritage   11
II.28Local building materialsUse a minimum of 50% of local building materials (country-based accepted), replacing imported materials   12

Pillar III: Ethical Business Practices

Ref.CriteriaCompliance IndicatorRequired EssentialsRequired AdvancedRequired ExcellenceOptionalSDGs
III.1Fair salaries and benefitsPractice wage parity and offer higher-than-average salaries and benefits to employees   8
III.2Anti-sex trade and human traffickingHave a clear policy, communication, or awareness program on sex trade and human trafficking   16
III.3Transparent communicationAll promotional materials must be truthful, and accurate, and reflect the actual sustainable capabilities and offerings at the property.   12
III.4Compliance with the local labour legislationAdhere to relevant national and local legislation regarding the health and safety of your employee   8
III.5Compliance with local tax requirementsBe fully compliant with local tax requirements with audited accounts removing any financial leakage   17
III.6Employee inclusionPractice employee inclusion, considering factors such as age, race, religion, gender equality and LGBTQ+, when possible in the destination   10
III.7Yearly training on environmental and sustainability issuesProvide yearly training for staff members on environmental and other sustainability issues. The training can be done in-house or with external service providers   4
III.8Responsible practices manifestoCreate and share a responsible plan showing commitment to sustainable practices   12
III.9Awareness of sustainability commitmentsOpenly inform suppliers about sustainability commitments and strongly encourage them to follow the same commitments   12
III.10Green credentials of the supply chainCheck the green credentials of partners/suppliers (depending on destinations and availability of such credentials)   12
III.11Resources/energy consumption recordingMeasure and report resources/energy consumption, either using provided templates or a carbon footprint calculator   12
III.12Reporting sustainability practicesCommunicate and regularly report sustainability practices, actions, and impact to all stakeholders   12
III.13Sustainability chartProminently display a sustainability chart featuring the label to raise awareness among guests and visitors   12
QALIA Framework V2.1 January 2024

Pillar IV: Guests well-being and experiences


Ref.CriteriaCompliance IndicatorRequired EssentialsRequired AdvancedRequired ExcellenceOptionalSDGs
IV.1Organic and local food productsEnsure at least 50% of food products offered during events are organic and/or homemade and/or sourced locally   2
IV.2Sustainable tables and settings decoration for eventsUse tables and settings decoration from sustainable sources   12
IV.3Communication plan for food leftovers from buffetDevelop a communication plan for employees and guests on how to deal with food leftovers when buffet-style food is provided   12
IV.4No Promotion of animal entertainment for eventsExclude the promotion of any entertainment involving the use of animals for events   15
IV.5Reusable cutlery, dishes, and glasses/mugs for eventsUse reusable cutlery, dishes, and glasses/mugs, replacing single-use items (plastic, paper, …)   12
IV.6Single-use plastic bottles for eventsEither do not use single-use plastic bottles or have a strict recycling plan in place   12
IV.7Seasonal and local fruits & vegetables for eventsStrictly offer seasonal and local fruits & vegetables to guests during events through awareness and education (e.g., seasonal chart)   2
IV.8No buffet style meals for eventsStrictly avoid offering buffet-style meals during events to minimize food waste   12
IV.9Carbon footprint offset for eventsThe property or event planner offset the carbon footprint of the event   13
IV.10Connecting guests to wildlifeRaise awareness of the local animal preservation or sanctuaries through guests experiences and activities in natural surroundings   12
IV.11Matching donation option for towel re-use and / or linen changeOffer guests the option to match the donation from the towel re-use and/or linen change program when regular change is provided   12
IV.12Complete digital experienceOffer a complete digital experience, removing printed material (unless legally obliged to have printed material)   12
IV.13Non-plastic straws & stirrersExclusively provide reusable straws and stirrers, replacing single-use plastic ones   12
IV.14Reusable laundry bagsMake available to guests reusable laundry bags made of recyclable material, replacing single-use plastic bags   12
IV.15Reusable bagsProvide reusable shopping and grocery bags to guests, replacing any single use bags of any material (plastic, paper)   12
IV.16Eco-friendly coffee podsUse paper-based, compostable or recyclable espresso machine pods or have a coffee machine with a grinder incorporated, replacing aluminum pods   12
IV.17Eco-friendly drinking waterProvide water for guests in glass bottles, via a drinking water dispenser, or using a tap filter, replacing single-use plastic bottles   12
IV.18Eco-friendly toiletriesOffer at least 3 only eco-friendly toiletries in guest bedrooms and bathrooms   12
IV.19À La Carte MealsOffer “À La Carte” meals (instead of buffet style) to avoid food waste at normal occupancy and when cooking services are provided   12
IV.20Plant-based mealsWhen cooking services are provided, offer in-house vegetarian and/or vegan menu options or share a list of local vegetarian and vegan restaurants   12
IV.21Culinary experiencesOffer a full culinary experience program based on the exclusive use of local and seasonal products prepared by local chefs, cooking classes, and meals at local restaurants and/or provide an experience of shopping at a local farm   8
IV.22Wellness and mindfulness experiencesOffer wellness and mindfulness activities to guests, either on or off the property. This may include classes for meditation, yoga, QI Qong, massages and beauty treatments   3
IV.23Mindfulness equipmentProvide yoga mats, meditation cushions/area, and/or fitness equipment to guests ideally in a dedicated area   3
IV.24Oils & products for massage and treatmentsExclusively use organic and/or natural oils and products that are locally sourced for massage and wellness treatments   12
IV.25Dietary inclusionWhen cooking services are provided, accommodate specific dietary requirements for an entire stay such as plant-based, gluten-free, Ayurveda, Halal, Kocher or share a list of local restaurants catering for these needs   10
IV.26Health retreat programsOffer in-house or outsourced professionally-led health retreat programs (e.g., detox, mindfulness, yoga and fitness retreats) when available in the destination   3
QALIA Framework V2.1 January 2024

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