Words by Lowenna Merritt
Blending luxury with eco-consciousness, the Scarlet Hotel is expanding its commitments to the environment.
The luxury hotel experience has traditionally revolved around lavish treatment, and this so often comes in the form of single use items, from a constant stream of fresh robes and slippers to a plenitude of plastic packaged toiletries.
Cornwall’s beautiful Scarlet hotel, situated amongst the clifftop landscape of Mawgan Porth, does things a little differently. As a luxury ‘eco hotel’, the Scarlet disengages with the idea that to indulge you must over consume, that luxury means excess. Its ethos, ‘Cherish the World’, finds the perfect blend of luxury and sustainability, enhancing the ways that the hotel’s stunning features and amenities can harmonise with the surrounding environment – a panorama of ocean, meadows and cliffs, that immerses visitors in nature, enriching the environmentally connected experience.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Scarlet has added to its eco-promises, revealing 111 ways in which it is sustainable. We delve into some of the hotel team’s innovative ideas.
The Scarlet was carefully designed to synchronise with its surrounding environ-ment, its shape sitting snugly within the coastal landscape. Its impressive sea thrift roofing, a Cornish plant which blankets the top of the building, not only helps to regulate heating and cooling of the hotel but attracts insects and butterflies.
The gardens complement the clifftop and are designed to encourage biodiversity, through bee friendly planting and bat holes to the landscaped sand dunes designed as nooks for visitors to soak up the views, in which grasses, flowers and even rabbits have made themselves at home.
Stepping inside, the Scarlet is adorned with locally designed and sourced furniture, recyclable carpets and materials, and stunning locally created artwork, which is also available to buy. A high use of recyclable materials has gone into the very construction of the hotel, whilst the walls are painted with Johnstone’s ‘Ecological Solutions’, ensuring the building is sustainable to its core. The hotel cleverly conserves energy and water, with the layout maximising sea views alongside natural light and warmth.
The Scarlet ensures that sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort. Each of the luxurious rooms features organic towels, robes and bedding. Each guest is gifted their very own pair of slippers innovatively made from recycled plastic bottles, and encouraged to take these home to wear again.
Toiletries include naturally and ethically sourced Oula soap, shampoo and lotions, made locally in St Ives, and Cornish bath salts. The Scarlet opts for larger, refillable bottles, cutting down on miniature bottle waste, and every guest is offered a Fair Trade bag to take their remaining soap home. Even the toilet roll is made from entirely recycled materials, sugar-cane room tissues are entirely biodegradable, and toilets are flushed with rainwater.
The team have minimised energy draining in-room appliances such as the traditional mini-fridge, opting for a room service in which guests can order freshly made drinks and snacks upon request.
Even the dog treats are hand baked in Cornwall from entirely natural ingredients – every tiny detail lets guests enjoy a truly luxurious experience which doesn’t infringe on the environment.
Serene and sustainable comfort
The Scarlet’s renowned holistic, Ayurveda inspired spa is where the real environmental magic happens. They rely on the ‘power of touch’ and use only the most skilled therapists as opposed to fancy gadgets and tools to create the ultimate blissful experience. Focusing on holistic wellbeing, spa visitors are encouraged to reconnect with their senses and embrace a spiritual experience. Guests can indulge in rich mineral mud treatments in the rhassoul, bathing rituals in the hammam and soul cleansing meditation overlooking the ocean in the relaxation area.
The divine spa boasts a natural swimming pool, using a living reed bed as a filtration system to eradicate the need for chemicals and create an invigorating freshwater experience. Accompanying this are two bubble-free outdoor hot tubs, minimising the use of energy as guests can gaze out to the horizon and soak up the sound of the waves crashing below. The serenity of the spa grounds visitors and connects them to nature.
The environmental care put into the bedrooms expands to the spa equipment – scrub mitts, eye pillow covers, and footrest covers are all upcycled from no longer used throws and sarongs. Sustainability cleverly becomes part of the spa experience here as guests are indulged in natural treatments. This is all topped off with two hot tubs and a sauna, and the result is a haven of sustainable serenity.
An emphasis on simplicity and flavour
Food and Drink
At the Scarlet’s restaurant and bar, the emphasis is on simplicity and flavour. The delicious menu changes daily to make the most of local and seasonal produce, whilst handmade bread, cakes and biscuits are made on site. Fine dining does not have to be harmful to the environment; the team of chefs make use of what is fresh and local to Cornwall. And with an abundance of fresh fish, vegetables and nearby dairy farms, why wouldn’t they?
This expands to their range of carefully and sustainably sourced wines, ales and spirits, which are mostly local and always the highest quality. Never straying outside of Europe for their wines, the team cut down on air miles whilst still bringing exquisite bottles to the table. Enjoy locally sourced fish with seasonal vegetables and a crisp Cornish made wine, and perhaps later that night, an ethically produced tequila (or two).
Connecting with the Surrounding Environment
Part of the Scarlet’s ethos isn’t simply instilling these changes to their own business, it is encouraging others to do the same. The hotel’s commitment to the environment reaches out beyond its walls and instils positive change within the community. Being the 1,000th member to join the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism project (CoasT), the team are now ambassadors for this scheme and share what they do with others. Running a community fund designed to support the local natural environment alongside people living in the area, they offer guests the opportunity to support charities such as Surfers Against Sewage and CoasT, with a £5 donation per booking.
For sustainability to be impactful, it must become an integral part of the community as a whole. Providing guests the opportunity to become part of the change adds an additional feel-good element to their visit, knowing that they are contributing to environmental change.
Guests are also encouraged to embrace this attitude throughout their stay. Car free activities are promoted, with up to date bus and train timetables always on hand, alongside information on local walks and attractions.
There are also plenty of opportunities for guest education. The spacious guest library offers plenty of room in which to relax and read, featuring books on the environment, Cornwall’s local area and sustainable living. The friendly reception team are available for any queries on sustainability too.
To indulge is integral to the Scarlet experience, but in a way that’s sustainable and environmentally kind. It is about embracing the landscape, immersing yourself in nature and truly relaxing whilst leaving no trace and having minimal impact.
The Scarlet prides itself on breaking the traditions of the luxury hotel experience. It proves that sustainability can be integrated into the industry and promises to reflect and work on any mistakes. This eco-friendly sanctuary has paved the way for hotels around the UK, and it’s fair to say that more and more hotels are following suit, making environmentally friendly luxury the new norm.
Visits to places such as the Scarlet rejuvenate the body and mind, reconnect you with your senses and embrace a sense of inner peace, proving that doing so does not have to cost the Earth.