Considerate Hotel Award goes to...

Green champions show it pays to consider the environment

By Elizabeth Mistry on 27 May 2011 in News

A small rural hotel has beaten off competition from a number of established names to take top prize at the UK’s 2011 Considerate Hotel Awards, reports Elizabeth Mistry
 
Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant, in Wark-on-Tyne near Hexham in Northumberland only opened five years ago but was named ‘Best All Rounder” and commended by judges for the “element of fun that they have injected into their endeavours and their obvious enthusiasm for what they do and have achieved”.
 
Owned and run by Richard and Dee Slade, the 18th century inn – and its owners – have undergone an amazing overhaul since they acquired it in 2005.
 
“We bought it because we could see it had vast potential,” said Richard, who previously managed the Magnesia Bank, a locally renowned gastropub on Tyneside.
 
He admits that Battlesteads’ growing reputation as an example of how to run a hotel in a sustainable manner initially came about through necessity rather than his own enthusiasm for the environment. 
 
“We weren’t hippies but we have undergone a conversion - though we try not to force it (the sustainability side of things) down peoples’ throat.
 
“When we bought the place we didn’t realise that the electricity supply wasn’t up to it. We are at the end of a line and we were told by the electricity company that we couldn’t have any more power.
 
“We had horrible blackouts in the middle of breakfast because so many people were using the electric showers at once – sometimes I had to cook by candlelight.”
 
So the Slades started investigating alternative energy sources – and soon discovered that there was a lot more they could do in terms of making their business environmentally friendly.
 
The 17-bed hotel – one of the first in the country to install a carbon neutral biomass boiler -  now employs a ‘green champion’. 
Staff grow fruit and vegetables for the kitchen, run by chef Eddie Shilton in two polytunnels and the hotel's garden which Richard Slade says is inspired by the grounds at Raymond Blanc’s world famous hotel Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons (which was also on the shortlist for the top prize along with London's Metropolitan and the Green House in Bournemouth).  The rest of the food comes from within a strict 25–mile radius.
 
And clearly visitors are voting with their feet with an estimated 10-15% of first time guests saying they chose the hotel because of its eco credentials.  “Once people have seen the place they are blown away by what we’ve done.”
 
“We also have lots of other hotels – including a big name property asking us how we do things – and we are always happy to work with people.
 
The hotel plans to build more bedrooms and a chemical-free pool with a green roof are underway.
 
Other winners at this year’s awards included pioneering hotel Strattons in Norfolk which won the ‘Considerate Sustainable Food Award’ and Lasswade Country House and Restaurant at Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales – whose co-owner Roger Stevens is a former chef at London’s Waldorf Hotel - which scooped the ‘Considerate Small Accommodation Provider of the Year’. 
  
 
Would you choose a hotel because of its green or sustainable ethos?  Leave a comment on this story.

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