Elizabeth Mistry reports on the sustainable success achieved by Roger and Emma Stevens
When Roger Stevens was head chef at London's Waldorf hotel, he never imagined that 30 years later he would be fielding calls from all over the world from organisations wanting to call on his expertise as a pioneer of sustainable tourism in Powys, mid Wales.
But having won the Considerate Hoteliers Association's (CHA) award for Best Green Marketing Initiative, the business run by Roger and his wife Emma is now held up as a model of sustainable operation.
Judges praised Lasswade - a two-AA-rosette restaurant with rooms in Llanwrtyd Wells which has previously won CHA awards for Best Green Small Accommodation Provider and Best Sustainable Food Champion - for its newest project, Welsh Road Trips.
The prize-winning venture is, says Roger Stevens, "very much a tri-partnership with two nearby accommodation providers - the Old Vicarage in Dolfor and the Westview guesthouse in Llowes near Hay-on-Wye - both of which also have Gold status with the Green Tourism Business Scheme."
Welsh Road Trips aims to attract visitors to Powys by offering not only accommodation and good food, but help with touring itineraries for guests whether they arrive with their own vehicles or via public transport. As an added incentive, guests arriving with electric cars or bikes receive a discount on accommodation and free access to one of the electric vehicle (EV) charging points now located at each property.
"We are not rivals because each of us offers something unique," explained Stevens.
"I believe we are the first to offer something like this in Wales, if not the UK."
Stevens has also won support from charity Zero Carbon World which has chosen Lasswade to help roll out 100 more charging stations across Wales.
How to charge up your business
Businesses looking to follow Lasswade's example can apply for one of the 1,000 free electric vehicle (EV) charging stations currently on offer to the UK hospitality and leisure sector courtesy of charity Zero Carbon World.
After donating 100 charging stations to Lasswade's Roger Stevens, who will work with interested parties to spearhead take-up in Wales, Zero Carbon World is inviting online applications for the remaining 900 available to hotels, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions elsewhere in the UK.
Anywhere where a customer might be expected to spend three or four hours (for a top-up charge) such as a restaurant or overnight (for a full charge that would give a range of 30 to 200 miles depending on the type of EV) could be a potential candidate.
The charity has already partnered with several branded properties including the Radisson Blu in Edinburgh and the Marriott in Slough, but founder Kevin Sharpe hopes to see most applications come from "smaller businesses which might ordinarily find the initial purchase cost (up to £1,000) a challenge."
Successful operators will still need to invest about £200 to £300 to cover installation costs. Maintenance is minimal, says Sharpe, who adds that the units can also be easily upgraded if EV charging technology evolves in the next few years.
Tips for installing an Electric vehicle charging station
â- Speak to someone who has already done it, to help decide if it is right for your business and how you will recoup the cost. Some properties offer it as a free service to overnight guests, others charge usage "at cost".
â- Look around and make sure you are within reach of potential network partners. There is no use being too far from another electric vehicle (EV) station as no one will be able to reach you, so it won't bring new business from EV users.
â- Work with a trusted electrical specialist to ensure installation complies with current regulations.
â- If finance is an issue, talk to your local authority which may have access to special funds for EV infrastructure development or be able to put you in touch with other potential like-minded partners.