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One of the main criteria of this important award is that the winner has displayed a long-term commitment to environmental practices. More importantly, it needs to show that its green policy is driving it on to become even more sustainable.
Well, that's certainly true of Red Hotels. The company's two Cornish hotels, the four-star, 101-bedroom Bedruthan Steps and the 37-bedroom Scarlet, are shining examples of sustainable business in practice, all overseen by a designated environmental manager.
The family-owned Bedruthan steps has been open for 50 years and offers children's activity clubs, restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa and conference centre. In the early days, its emphasis on fresh, local produce and sustainable living were ground-breaking. The smaller Scarlet was opened in 2009 and further demonstrates that luxury hotels need not be unsustainable.
Past winner and judge Vanessa Scott of Strattons Hotel said: "They are probably the first independents to have employed a cracking good environmental manager and it is the cherry on the cake. Having visited their hotels myself I would like to say that they really live up to their pledge that luxury doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure."
The judges were bowled over by how hard the owners worked at being sustainable and profitable. At Bedruthan, energy is monitored three times a week and carbon footprint calculations are made every month. The new technologies installed and the development of staff training mean the footprint has been reduced by 9.8% from 2008 to 2010. Bearing in mind the company was already sustainable, this reveals their indefatigable drive to constantly improve.
Similarly, at the Scarlet, solar panels, a biomass boiler, a natural ventilation system and an air-to-air heat exchanger have all been installed. Its clever building management system reveals that its carbon footprint is 82% lower than that of a standard building of similar size.
And both hotels have Ecotricity energy, which means 100% of electricity is generated by renewable sources.
This level of attention follows through in water management, waste management, recycling, sustainable purchasing and supporting the local community - the company even runs regular beach clean-ups of Mawgan Porth beach. Further afield, the managers make presentations at events and seminars, providing guest lectures at Cornwall College and Exeter University.
As for staff, the environmental manager helps to train them in each hotel's sustainable practices and in areas relevant to their department - for instance, spa therapists learn about sustainable products. For those who want it, there's also the opportunity for more specialised training.
The judges were left in no doubt that these hotels are as green as you get. But perhaps the quirkiest indication of their success is that some 72% of guests at Bedruthan Steps and 80% at Scarlet said in a survey that they had been inspired by the environmental measures and would make changes at home.
ShortlistedBattlesteads, Wark on Tyne, Hexham
â- Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel, London
â- Red Hotels - Bedruthan Steps Hotel and the Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
â- The Cavendish London
The JudgesJane Carlton Smith, director, Responsible Hospitality Partnership
David Clarke, managing director, CDIS-KARM
Mike Hanson, head of sustainability & environmental management, BaxterStorey
Mark Lovett, health, safety and sustainability manager, apetito
Vanessa Scott, director, Strattons Hotel