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Introducing the Green Travel List 2011

Posted by Richard Hammond at 03:49 on Saturday 05 November 2011

Tregulland's old stone barn and 15th century cottages are effectively off-grid for power. Photo: Richard HammondTregulland's old stone barn and 15th century cottages are effectively off-grid for power. Photo: Richard HammondLast weekend I stayed at Tregulland, a new luxury self-catering property for groups in North Cornwall that bills itself as “the thinking person’s holiday retreat”.

Tregulland's old stone barn and 15th century cottages are effectively off-grid for heating and water: a huge biomass boiler heats all the buildings, as well as the freshwater indoor pool, steam room and outdoor hot tub. The rooms have large rainfall showers (supplied by Tregulland’s own borehole), huge comfy beds with views of the valley below, and the start-of-the-art kitchen, sitting room and dining areas are decorated with contemporary art by a British designer. It’s a stylish place and once the owner has installed solar panels for electricity, as he intends to do before the tariff changes in April, it’ll be as green as UK property comes. 

Along with Trelowarren Cottages and the Scarlet Hotel, Tregulland is typical of a new breed of upmarket accommodation in Cornwall that have put green sensibilities at the heart of their operations. You’re just as likely to see them listed among rankings of the world’s hottest boutique hotels as you are in round-ups of a more earthy, ethical nature. No surprise, then, that they aren’t cheap; a week at Tregulland’s cottages for up to 10 people costs from £3,600 (though there’s currently a 25% discount for bookings taken before Christmas). 

Fortunately, it’s not just properties at the top end of the market that are taking the green message on board and running with it. The Green Tourism Business Scheme has now certified over 2,500 sustainable places to stay throughout the UK and Ireland, many of which are small, family-run B&Bs, guesthouses and self-catering cottages. The scheme requires businesses to provide details on over 160 criteria, ranging from how they minimize their draw on energy to whether they encourage their guests to use local transport. One of its gold award winners, not far from Tregulland, is Little White Alice, a collection of six stylish self-catering cottages where a wind turbine produces most of the electricity, ground-source heat pumps provide under-floor heating, and solar panels heat the water. Its biggest USP in summer is a sleek, natural swimming pool where you can take a dip surrounded by swallows and wild herbs. A cottage at Little White Alice costs from £220 for a week for two people. 

What these eco-minded holidays have in common is that their green innovations and adaptations make for a more enjoyable visitor experience. It’s far nicer to swim in a natural, freshwater pool cleaned by filtration plants than by synthesised chemicals, far cosier to be warmed by the cosy glow of a wood-chip boiler than gas central heating, and far more satisfying to eat fish for dinner fresh from local shores rather than something shipped in from across the world. 

For this reason, we asked you to submit your recommendations for sustainable travel experiences around the world that you have particularly enjoyed over the past year, and which you would like to see given recognition in the 2011 Green Travel List. We received hundreds of nominations and, from those, our expert panel selected 25 experiences that we feel best demonstrate innovation in the way they make use of new technologies, in marketing, business models, pricing and product design.

These cover a diverse range of companies, from places to stay to transport initiatives, festivals, adventure trips and conservation holidays. All are pushing the boundaries of what green travel means, and repackaging their sustainable credentials for a new generation of more savvy – and green-minded – travellers.

>> See the Full Green Travel List, published today in the Guardian, 5 November 2011.

Tregulland's 12x 5m pool is the first indoor freshwater swimming pool in the country.Tregulland's 12x 5m pool is the first indoor freshwater swimming pool in the country.

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