Green Tourism…personal reflections on summer 2010
Leigh Tymms: 12/12/2010
The cold weather well and truly here. Seems like a good time to reflect back on the summer. One that showed me that sustainability is becoming more and more of mainstream a concern in the UK and green tourism is a commercially viable step to take.
I wanted to share some of the ‘sustainability highlights’ of my 2010 summer with you.
Cycling Hadrians wall:
Every year, my father and I challenge ourselves to something new and adventurous. This year was no different, we embarked on cycling along the central and most historical section of Hadrian’s wall. We had booked to stay in the Battlesteads hotel one night. The reason I booked this particular establishment (over 11miles away from I had originally intended to book in Hexam) was that they offered a great selection of local produce in the restaurant, they had a Green Tourism Business Scheme gold award and they were actively differentiating themselves using their environmental efforts. This would catch the interest of any green marketer.
Now this is an independent establishment who are big on innovation. A biomass boiler system is located in the rear court yard as a powerhouse for the hotel. This is fuelled with wood offcuts from a firm located within a mile of the premises, in an effort to remain as sustainable as possible. Many of the technologies throughout the building were also testament to these efforts.
The bar and restaurant were no different. A long, ornate bar, is filled with pumps for the primarily the small local micro brewers. On the menu, the delicious seasonal food was largely sourced from local suppliers, who were carefully managed to ensure they could cope with the demand for peak periods, whilst ensuring the highest quality. Some of the food, including herbs and select fruits were actually from within the grounds of the hotel itself – you can’t get much more local than that. The general luxurious feel experience reiterated to me how sustainable sourcing and a ‘green’ effort can really help support a message of exceptional quality – which I would suggest was a primary driver for their clientele.
Communication of environmental and sustainability messages were also carefully managed at the hotel. An environmental charter formed part of the hotel welcome pack. Public notice boards communicated the efforts of taking place within the site and also identified local wildlife to look out for. Binoculars are available in the conservatory, which was used for breakfast and drinks, pointed towards many bird feeders in the grounds, on which a large, diverse collection of birds congregated.
I have since spoke to the owner of Battlesteads and he informs me they actually went on to win Pub of the year for Britain 2010, as well as awards for environmental achievement. Congratulations.
Less than a month after the cycle ride, I was away again, this time down in Padstow with my girlfriend.
I love camping and being in the outdoors, so we agreed to do this for half the week, then stay at one of Rick Steins hotels for the rest of the week. Padstow Touring Park is a holder of the David Bellamy conservation award, which was reflected in local sourcing, it’s attitudes to environmental management and public information about the local species of wildlife and conditions of beaches in the area.
Whilst we were in Padstow, initiatives based around local sourcing of food were particularly common. We had the pleasure of eating at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, where the knowledgeable waitress was keenly telling us, without prompting, about how all the different aspects of our meals were from local suppliers, right down to the individual leaves in the salads. The meals was delicious, the view over Watergate bay was amazing – it comes highly recommended.
The other culinary treat was a visit to Rick Steins Seafood Restaurant. My girlfriend had lobster as part of the tasting menu. I had heard about the sustainable approach to Lobster farming in Padstow before we went away but the National Lobster Hatchery located nearby told me much more. The policy agreed with the Padstow fishermen seems to be that if a pregnant lobster is caught, it is taken to the centre, where the baby lobster are reared to a size at which they stand a realistic chance of survival in the wild, at which point they are released. Ultimately this is environmentally positive in conserving the numbers of lobster but is good sustainable business sense for Padstow, as seafood is continues to be high on the menu.
The Eden Project, nearby to Padstow, is somewhere I had been previously but on return, I never fail to be impressed by their attitude to business and the way that they combine their environmental objectives with running a vast tourist attraction, where everyone has a great time.
On this trip a couple of things struck me about the spreading influence of the Eden project. The first was that they have initiated a project to tap into the deep geothermal energy of the UK. As the tectonic activity is favourably close to the surface of the earth in Cornwall, deep geothermal energy is an exciting possibility that could efficiently provide energy for many of the local communities. The second point of interest was that they have launched the greentalent.org and the realcoolfutures.com initiatives (check out these websites – they have some really interesting case studies). They are really bringing the sustainability message home in a fun, down to earth and engaging way, as a serious choice for the younger generation to build their futures around.
Well done to all the organisations featured in this article. It’s great that you are contributing to a better world and demonstrating real innovation. I look forward to seeing what I find next summer!
Remarq support organisations in their sustainability efforts and communications. This includes helping to meet criteria such as that set by the green tourism business scheme. Call us today for more information.