This family-run art boutique hotel in Swaffham, Norfolk, was the winner of last year's Considerate Hotelier Environmentally Responsible Hotel of the Year Award. The hotel, jointly owned by chef Vanessa Scott, has proved that going green needn't alienate guests or compromise services.
For example, during 1995-96, the hotel's toiletries bill was £1,080, using 25ml luxury products. The waste that resulted filled two black bin liners filled with little-used hand soaps and two more bin liners filled with plastic bottles. Occupancy was running at 38%.
In the subsequent year, when the hotel changed to using Body Shop 1,000ml refillable pump dispensers, the cost dropped to £180 and the number of plastic bottles being sent to landfill was reduced by 97%. No soap bars went to landfill. All in all, the policy has been a success. The toiletries bill for 2005 was £175, with all soap products bought in five-litre containers. Average occupancy was 88%.
"The environmental policy is as important as our sales drive," says Scott. She adds that occupancy is running at 92%, "proof that the care and commitment nurtured by environmental consideration achieves bookings".
The hotel has dramatically reduced the amount of waste it sends to landfill. Year-on-year, the hotel produces only half a bin of "landfill" waste per week - equating to just 2% of total waste. Everything else is recycled.
For instance, it has saved £340.94 per quarter through avoiding commercial waste collection and instead recycling wherever possible. This is a total of £1,363 a year, a saving of £20,456 over the 15 years the hotel has been open.
In 1997, total waste was just less than 10,000 tonnes. To 2005, it was progressively reduced year-on-year to less than 5,000 tonnes (total before recycling) through a reduction of waste at source.
This has been achieved by:
- Asking suppliers to reuse plastic trays for transferring produce.
- Using reusable cloth bags for daily shopping.
- Not buying from national companies, and giving back cardboard and polystyrene to those which package their products in this way.
- About 100kg a week of restaurant scraps and vegetarian organic kitchen waste are produced. This is now either composted or fed with local organic meal to the 20 hens that supply the kitchen with eggs and the grounds with compost. The south-facing walls of the grounds have been planted with plum, peach and nectarine trees enriched by the composting system.