Why Green Tourism?
News reports recently have reported that global tourism accounts for 8% of all green house emissions on the planet, which when I read it was quite a shock! With all the planes, trains and automobiles it takes get someone to Iona I can quite believe the amount of green house gases created. Public transport and lift sharing really are the best options. For its size, the Isle of Iona is home to 3 Gold rated sustainable businesses, both hotels and the Eco-Hostel at the North End of Iona and we subscribe to the Mull and Iona Eco Charter.
So what are we as a hotel doing to limit our impact?
Living on Iona in such a beautiful and pristine environment we feel it is part of our responsibility to contribute to reducing the impact of visitors to our Island. The hotel has been recognized by theGreen Tourism Business Scheme or nearly 20 years for this commitment to becoming a more sustainable business. We have reduced our energy and water use, are continually looking at reducing this further. We have arrangements with suppliers that they collect and re-use delivery crates and boxes. All our green waste is composted for our Organic garden, portion size has been adjusted to avoid waste. We continue to communicate and educate staff and visitors about green issues in small choices that can make a difference.
Our kitchen sources local food not only for amazing freshness and known provenance, but also to ensure producers directly are rewarded for their quality produce, this keeps the local economy viable for people to live in our remote community.
Being located in such a remote place with a historic building it is not easy to make the progress towards energy efficiency that we would like but we continue to make strides. Since buying the hotel many improvements have been made supported by Resource Efficient Scotland loans and Triodos Ethical banking.
Underlying the management ethos is respectful communication and care for all staff, a living wage and an undertaking to create a happy working environment! We hope that your experience of our staff lets you see how much we care about the food and service that we offer.
So what have we done?
We are now 99% double glazed windows, we have insulated and replaced the roof, we are 100% LED lit and all replacement machines are A+. Our largest contribution to reducing our carbon footprint and reducing electricity use has been the installation of air source units for the entrance hall and dining room. Water use all taps have flow restrictors, showers have eco heads and toilets dual flush. We are excited about being part of the Village Heat Network Iona Renewables Group which is an Island led project aiming to make Iona Energy Independent.
This geothermal heating and energy system will now be installed in the winter of 2019. However, the most exciting news this year we can announce is that we have installed a waste treatment plant for the hotel and 4 other houses in the village street which dramatically improves water quality in St Ronans Bay.
So what can I do as a visitor to reduce my impact?
Travel to Iona by public transport. There is some joined up thinking in the timetable but not every ferry connects with a bus across Iona so that needs to be taken into account. See our blog about travelling in winter…but in the Summer Timetables there are more connections. On a Sunday though be aware of only one bus leaving Iona and arriving to Iona on a Sunday!
Getting about on Iona. Iona is walkable for most and bikes can be hired from the Iona Craft shop. You are welcome to bring your own bike too! It is very safe on Iona and we have limited indoor space to keep a couple of bikes but space in the courtyard outside. We can advise on walking routes and keep a few local maps. Come prepared with a full windproof layer as we have windy days year round and waterproof foot wear. We can lend walking poles and golf clubs if needed!
In the hotel Whilst staying, be as warm as possible but turn off all electricals as you go out to enjoy the day, consider if a towel change is needed, ask for smaller portions at meal times if that is needed and we are happy for food to be shared. Enjoy the wildlife spotter guides in the sun lounge and learn about the local species. Watch out for dolphins in the Sound of Iona and the occasional corncrake that may appear on the lawn early and late evening.
Out and About on Iona. Leave no trace! Bring any picnic waste home to the hotel and we can help you recycle. If you are so moved bring home plastic waste that you might find on the beach to keep our beaches looking fabulous. Iona is a working Farm, so please watch you step as you walk, birds nest in the stones and wildflowers are everywhere. Always shut gates, keep dogs on leads and pick up after them!
Food and Drink. Enjoy eating and drinking local and scottish fayre! The Mull & Iona Food Trail is well worth checking out. We refill water bottles and coffee can be taken away in your own cup! We will also do this for takeaway coffee or teas. Bring a set of cutlery and picnic box for those impromptu outdoor snacks.
Shopping. We are blessed with many resident craftspeople who work all winter to create quality items. For 100% 'Handmade on Iona' see Oran Crafts. Iona Wool and greenstone jewellery can be found at the The Iona Craft Shop and Iona Pebbles Arts and Crafts. Aosdana is our resident silversmiths selling Alex Richie celtic designs as well as stunning contemporary jewellery. Sound of Iona tarten designed on Iona is available from the Martyrs bay shop
We are so lucky to live and work on Iona and it is a pleasure to welcome so many visitors from around the world. Any thing we can do to preserve this amazing Island for future generations as a thriving community and a pristine environment is well worth the effort. We hope you enjoy your stay with us!