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ECO WARRIORS: Hotels investing in sustainability and seeing it pay off

INHABIT 2019

The hotels championing sustainable practices as more than just a promotional exercise. We take a look at the properties putting their money where their mouth is and making big investments in initiatives, innovations and operational changes to make business greener.

Palé Hall, Wales

Sustainable and environmentally responsible; these are central principles that guide Palé Hall’s values, business and operational practice.

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Raising environmental awareness and impact reduction initiatives inform the hotel’s day to day operations at every level. All heads of department are vigilant to new products, emerging techniques and innovations that might contribute to this goal.

The hotel has a clean, completely carbon-neutral source of electricity, produced from its own, on-site hydro-electric generating plant.

Dating back to the late 19th century, the house was restored by owners Alan and Angela to its former glory in 2016.  In January 2019, Debbie Coppadona was appointed general manager.

Earlier this year, Palé Hall was awarded a Michelin Green Star in recognition to its commitment to sustainable practices.

Can you detail the ‘green’ developments you’ve made at the hotel over the last 24 months and how they work?

General manager Debbie Cappadona says: “The major one is the addition of an electric boiler, making our oil boiler redundant. The electric boiler is then powered by the hydroelectric turbine, making us 100% efficient.

The localised sourcing of products and the distance they travel from has been heavily considered when ordering, reducing our carbon footprint. Garnish in drinks are either sourced from the garden or very localised. The waste is dehydrated and used. Spirits for the bar are bought in bulk 5 litre containers to reduce the amount of glass used. These are then giving back to the suppliers to refill, ensuring no waste. Bamboo straws have been introduced, no more plastic.

Nespresso has a sustainability programme – they collect and recycle all used coffee pods and we have rolled out electrical car charging points; they’re free of charge to guests and the public.

What were the biggest driving forces behind these changes?

Awareness of the importance of responsible and sustainable practices. It’s something we and the owners are very mindful of. Also, an accountability and desire to align with Relais & Chateaux sustainability commitment to UNWTO goals.

What have been some of the challenges of the new sustainable developments?

The initial introduction of a new system was a big undertaking, as was making sure all staff became aware of changes.

Which new sustainability initiatives have given you /or will give you the biggest return on investment?

Definitely the electric boiler, for reasons outlined above.

How did you decide which areas needed sustainability improvements or more efficient ways of working?

By making close observations of the processes used in that area/department so we could see what was being wasted and what could be done better. 

Can you explain the sustainable features in:

Bedrooms: In-house laundry reducing carbon footprint; All the amenities are in cardboard packaging, making them 100% recyclable; Toiletries are organic and locally sourced; All the power used within rooms comes from Pale Halls own hydroelectric generator.

Restaurant / kitchen: Bottled water comes from Pale Hall’s own natural spring, and the glass bottles are sanitised in house; Bamboo straws; Team uniforms are now made from recyclable products; Local soured products across the board wherever possible; Napkins and table cloths are washed in-house; Gardeners cultivate and grow vegetables and micro herbs for the kitchen; Kitchen return waste for the gardens for composting.

Have you noticed a change in how interested guests are in the sustainability credentials of the hotel?

Guests really love to hear about the hydroelectric generator and the self-sustainability of the hotel.  And those that book via Relais & Chateaux have come to expect a certain level of credentials in sustainability given the focus of the brand.

What sustainability initiatives are you working on for the next 12 months?

We are reviewing to see where there are suppliers that an enable us to get more Green/Reusable products throughout the hotel. It’s a big and ongoing priority for all of us at Pale Hall.

Inhabit Hotels, London

Inhabit Hotels made its London debut in the summer of 2019, in Southwark Street. The new hotel opened across six Georgian townhouses in Paddington and promoted an ethos with wellbeing at its core.

The hotel is free of single-use plastics and partners with social enterprises such as Globechain, an online reuse platform connecting businesses, charities and people to enable reuse of unwanted and surplus items; Kalinko, a brand of ethically crafted textiles and homewares produced in Burma; and Goldfinger Factory, a sustainable design and build social enterprise.

Inhabit is going through the process to certify as a B Corporation going beyond product- or service-level certification. B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. The B Impact Assessment evaluates how your company’s operations and business model impact your workers, community, environment, and customers. Positive impact is supported by transparency and accountability requirements.

Inhabit is committed to sustainable business practices and has achieved Green Key certification.

What sustainable practices have you rolled out over the last 12 months?

LED light bulbs come as standard; we recycle responsibly with help from GlobeChain; we change towels and linen every other day unless otherwise requested; seasonal, organic produce is used in our Yeotown Kitchen; we minimise plastic as much as possible and our suppliers refuse to use single-use plastic; Who Gives A Crap? Loo roll is stocked in our public bathrooms; our water is soured with help from Belu, which donates 100% of its profits to WaterAid; our Goldfinger furniture features recycled and reclaimed materials; we avoid all synthetics chemicals when it comes to our hotel’s environment. As a hotel business, we strive to recycle, repurpose, and reuse wherever and whenever we can. Sustainability continues to be a driving force, informing all that we do.

We are trailing for sustainability with our dry cleaners, laundry and with our guests. We use cleaning products that have superior environmental credentials. We monitor our food waste.

We reduce use of Plastic and promote KeepCups; guests can borrow or buy from reception. We use Ren cosmetic products, with no miniatures, just refillable bottles.

Inhabit hosts workshops for all staff members to understand the hotel’s commitment to wellness and wider wellness for the world.

Are you launching any new eco initiatives upon reopening?

Our eco-conscience has shaped Inhabit’s design, philosophy and daily operations.

We support local enterprises that share our passion for wellness and commitment to sustainability. Our hotel showcases our community partners in its build and operations. Even our furniture, food, water, retail as well as programming are community driven.

We have partnered with IQAir – A Swiss based company that helps clean air zone in our public areas. The high-performance air filtration system uses leakage-free HEPA filtration to filter unwanted airborne pollution including viruses, bacteria as well as diesel soot and general traffic pollution out of the air.

Have you invested in ‘greener’ ways of working since 2019?

We commit to monitoring water consumption and building partnerships with companies that promote products to help us bring down the water consumption as a hotel.

We have green activities in the hotel, outdoor programming such as our mindful walks, cycling, we encourage our guests, tourists and locals staying with us to workout in the outdoors.

Inhabit’s neighbourhood guide encourages guests to engage with like-minded, sustainable businesses. eg: GoBoat, Goldfinger Factory.

We partnered with Con-serv during lockdown and we were tracking energy usage that we would see where there were energy leakages and this insight enabled us to make changes to our practices.

What future sustainable developments will you look towards in the future?

We are continuously monitoring our environmental performance and setting sound environmental objectives.

Sharing environmental awareness with guests and encouraging them to participate in our eco efforts and green activities such as nature walks in Hyde Park OR Tokyo Bikes excursions.

Any you seeing any kind of ROI or financial advantages to new sustainable initiatives?

Of course, and initiatives are in place to reduce carbon footprint and working towards making operations eco-friendlier in the future. Our central BMS system is top of the range controlling everything from room temperatures, lights and water-use.

A central air conditioning system monitors the efficiency of the air-con to ensure that no energy is wasted, and it only kicks in automatically once a guest has checked in.

LED bulbs, of course, come as standard. They’re 80% more efficient in terms of energy used than traditional lighting: this reduces the power required and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. Occupancy sensors ensure that no energy is wasted, and everyone has light when they need it.

High quality water filtration stations are dotted around the hotel, on each floor. We are partnering with Belu which donates 100% of its profits to WaterAid. Sparkling and still bottled water is served in glass bottles, removing the need for any imported water or plastic containers.

There is an economic payback for installing water filtration machines, especially if guests are charged for water. In our case, we have a charitable donation arrangement with Belu and guests are not charged.

Newhall Mains, Scotland

Newhall Mains is a careful re-invention of the traditional ‘Mains’ building – a Scottish term historically used to refer to the main buildings of a farm or working estate. The family-run property which, until recently, was classified ‘at risk’, has been restored into a series of cottages and guest suites.

Over the past three years the property has been recreated with great emphasis placed on preserving the integrity, beauty and intrinsic character of the original buildings built well over 200 years ago. With ample interior living space, including five individually themed cottages and four double bedroom suites, Newhall Mains can accommodate up to 28 persons.

Can you detail the ‘green’ developments you’ve made at the hotel ahead of reopening:

Euan Ramsay at Newhall Mains says: “Over the past 12 months we have massively ramped up our tree planting schedule to help sequester any carbon produced on site. This spring we planted over 100 saplings helping offset the entirety of our annual Co2 output.

On the infrastructure front, we have installed a fleet of electric automowers to cut our lawns. The battery-powered robotic lawnmowers work throughout the night, from 10pm to 10am, and are quiet enough to mow lawns without disturbing anyone. Our overall running costs have dropped dramatically and we no longer need to use traditional petrol lawnmowers.

What were the biggest driving forces behind these changes?

Situated on a working farm, we really wanted to ensure that our operation had a practical and forward thinking approach to sustainability. Having developed the project from the ground up we knew that it was going to be much easier to instigate the required processes from the start than try and retrofit a 200 year old building.

What have been some of the challenges of the new sustainable developments?

Getting up to speed with new technology, understanding the service requirements and crucially phasing out any old habits.

Which new sustainability initiatives have given you /or will give you the biggest return on investment?

To ensure we manage our energy consumption in the most considered way, we have installed the most efficient form of central heating available. As a property based in the North of Scotland, it has allowed us to minimise our heat wastage throughout the winter months.

Can you explain the sustainable features in:

Bedrooms: Our lighting system is centrally controlled and 100% LED. All our carpets are made from 100% recycled fibres and the rugs in our our bedrooms are made from the wool of our own Jacob sheep.

Restaurant / kitchen: Our menu champions nutrient rich produce with the majority of our food coming from within a 60 mile radius. We prefer where possible to offer our own home made products and produce our own honey, apple juice & eggs.

As far as possible, our kitchen deliveries are sent plastic free and any cardboard delivery boxes are either recycled or returned to the supplier for future use.

What sustainability initiatives are you working on for the next 12 months?

We are really keen to start making headway towards achieving biodynamic status. Over the next 12 months we would like to improve our overall recycling goals and build a number of compost bays so that food waste can be reused elsewhere as a secondary product.

To read more, catch up on the May edition of Boutique Hotelier, free to read online HERE

Tags : Inhabit hotelsPale Hallsustainabilitytourism
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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