Top 50 Boutique Hotels

Sustainability in hotels

By Charli Tomney | 22/04/2022

Sustainability is a rising concern for the hospitality industry with increasing pressure to reduce carbon footprints, source local products and make conscious efforts to make a change on your environmental impact. We sat down with Kevin Brooke, general manager of Heckfield Place, where sustainability is at the heart of everything they do.

Joining the team in December 2021, Brooke has fully immersed himself in Heckfield’s powerful ethos and ‘do good’ philosophy. Previously working across the world including the US, Caribbean and Asia, Brooke has always felt embodying the hotel’s environment and culture is of the utmost importance.

He said: “What drew me to Heckfield was how everything is underpinned by sustainability and trying to create a very workable ecosystem that we can operate in a very sustainable way.”

For Heckfield, the sustainability focus starts from its owner, Doctor Gerald Chan, who is passionate about the environment, and this is fed through to every aspect of the workings within the boutique hotel.

With 438 acres of land to work with, Heckfield has taken full advantage of the gorgeous landscape it is nestled in by nurturing and replenishing the environment. In-house arborists, wildlife specialists and groundskeepers ensure the estate is in top condition all year round.

Most notable is the on site farm and biodynamic market garden that grows organic produce for the kitchens, which are run by one of Britain’s most respected and acclaimed chefs, Skye Gyngell. ‘Farm-to-table’ truly comes to life in the dining rooms of Heckfield with luscious seasonal products grown in-house and used across all dishes. The aim of the farm is to create a self-fulfilling source of produce that increases the quality of the soil with each crop instead of depleting it like traditional mass farming methods.

Brooke recognises it’s not a simple switch for hotels to become sustainable and not necessarily the most financially viable decision, with Heckfield being carefully evolved even before the hotel opened. However, there are small adjustments that can have a large impact.

Brooke said: “There's not one single element that makes us environmentally friendly or sustainable. It's just a mindset. It's how we do things, our carbon footprint, and how we impact the planet.

“The most prominent aspect at this point is the amount of waste that goes on. It can be as simple as just turning off the lights when you leave a room and looking in more detail at your supply chain, where you're buying things from: are they responsibly sourced? Are they sourced in a sustainable way?”

Brooke suggests that sustainability efforts at your venue could be kick-started in any area of the business by passing down your message to the whole team and energy suppliers, and includes reducing single-use products, choosing local suppliers, and composting food waste – which can substantially reduce landfill waste.

He added: “Our bar team goes foraging in the in the woodlands and come back with all kinds of things to use in the cordials and cocktails.

“We have wonderful organic, completely natural products that we use in the spa with all of the products coming from the estate.”

Not only can guests at the hotel enjoy the treats that come from the in-house gardens and farm, but products are also available to purchase like fresh milk, butter, bread and cheese.

Heckfield’s focus for the future is to share its knowledge outside of the team to engage the wider community on these important issues, whether that be through celebrity guest speakers, creating an educational academy or the launch of its new wellness spa.

He added: “Heckfield becomes more and more a place of exchange of ideas and debate on a very broad level on a very wide-ranging international level.

“We’re evolving as a business and that will continue in years to come, whether it’s the hotel offering, the estate, the farm or the assembly programme.”