By Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel (www.burghisland.com)
Next week it is National Marine Week, an annual celebration of the UK’s relationship with the wild ocean and unique sea life that surrounds our island.
As Wildlife Trusts across the country host sea-themed events, from rock pooling to seashore safaris, National Marine Week presents the perfect opportunity for UK hospitality businesses to consider what they can do to support the marine environment, which is such a crucial resource for their business.
For many guests, the attraction of a coastal hotel comes from the allure of dining on some of the finest seafood in the world. People come from all over the globe to experience the UK’s seafood coast, watching experienced chefs transform local produce into unforgettable mouth-watering dishes.
Coastal hotels have a responsibility to work collaboratively with local fishermen and help support the fishing industry which is so important to many coastal communities right across the UK. Cultivating relationships with fisheries can help sustain local businesses and bring vital income to thousands, while simultaneously providing generations of guests with an incredible taste of the local catch.
At Burgh Island, we work closely with the local food suppliers and fishermen to ensure that 80% of the ingredients used in our kitchens are sourced from within a 30 miles radius of the island. Not only does this provide a valuable income to local fishermen but it helps Burgh Island reach its wider sustainability goals – placing us as one of the leading eco-hotels in the region.
Staying wild at heart and connecting with nature
The UK’s iconic seafood coast is certainly not the only way to connect with nature and the ocean during a getaway. Providing guests with opportunities for a nautical adventure is a great way to stay wild at heart and learn more about sea life and the ocean.
At Burgh Island, for instance, sustainable shark-tagging trips provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can help researchers monitor to keep track of local shark populations that might be impacted by affected by climate change.
For many, when they think about the sea, they think about water sports, conjuring immediately jump to visions of wetsuits, bodyboards, surfing and supping. For a hotel to enhance its coastal connection and appeal, then facilitating water activities that have minimal impact on the ocean is a must.
Wild swimming is a trend that is fast taking off in the UK. According to Outdoor Swimmer magazine’s annual report, searches for the term increased by 94% between 2019 and 2020.
Despite being an initial shock to the system, cold water swimming has proven physical and mental health benefits. One study found that cold-water immersion can boost dopamine levels by 530%. Another reported that open-water swimming can be used effectively to treat some cases of depression.
Burgh Island is already a popular destination for swimmers, with our iconic Mermaid Pool being recognised as one of the most glorious ocean pools in Europe. Encouraging guests to immerse themselves in everything the ocean has to offer is a great way to keep them coming back time and time again.
It’s no secret that being near the ocean can be very calming. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Coastal Zone management reported that people who have ocean views from their home report feeling calmer than those who do not.
Placing the sea at the centre of a guest’s experience throughout their stay can help to build a sense of escapism and transport guests into a relaxing and restful state of mind.
We encompass this at Burgh Island, every day, when we are cut off from the mainland at high tide each day. To reach our private tidal island, guests have the opportunity to ride the iconic third-generation hydraulic sea-tractor, designed in 1969 by Robert Jackson CBE in exchange for a case of champagne. It’s the only one of its kind in the world, providing guests with an unforgettable marine adventure before they have even reached the lobby.
We plan to convert our sea-tractor to an electric vehicle in the coming years, cementing our commitment to doing all we can to be as sustainable as possible.
This National Marine Week, I encourage all hoteliers to reflect upon their connections to the ocean and our natural habitat and consider what they can do to support local businesses who rely on the ocean. It’s also a great opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of our world and understand the importance of taking sustainability measures to protect it.