Coworth Park is a luxury hotel that is part of the Dorchester Collection, a hotel group with hotels in the UK, Europe and the United States. Coworth Park is not just a luxury hotel, it is the only UK hotel with its own polo fields. The hotel recently expanded their equestrian offers to equestrians of all ages and various disciplines. The stables at the estate are run in an eco-conscious way.
We were lucky to steal some of Bonnie Savin, the equestrian manager’s time to talk us through the various ways the stables reduce their environmental impact.
“Coworth Park provides a good illustration of how we are building responsible behaviour into our operations from the outset. This commitment is evident in Coworth Park’s design, which makes it one of the most environmentally-advanced hotels of its kind.For example, to reduce energy consumption there is a biomass boiler within an underground energy centre, which is fuelled by burning willow grown on the estate – a first for a UK hotel. The willow, with a three-year growth cycle, ensures that the hotel is able to produce its own carbon-neutral fuel supply while cooling for the hotel is provided by underground pipes known as ‘slinkys’ within the hotel grounds. These are significantly more efficient than conventional air-cooled or water-cooled chilled water systems.
Solar glazing is used in the main hotel and converted stable block and all rain and surface water is recycled by draining into the lake for re-use for irrigation.
The Spa at Coworth Park was constructed from predominantly out of timber structures with carbon-negative lime hemp spine and external walls; it is a green and sustainable building that emerges from the existing hillside to provide an eco-luxury spa with low energy requirements.”
Guests are invited to enjoy the ultimate luxury that Coworth Park has to offer, whilst at the same time be confident that they are helping to look after the planet in many ways.
What does the eco-conscious operation implies for the daily care of horses at Coworth?
Use of miscanthus bedding rather than traditional straw or shavings for many reasons, one of its biggest benefits is that it decomposes quickly. We have a muck heap on site to stack muck and bedding to begin the break down.
Miscanthus is a low maintenance crop only being disturbed when harvested. This gives a fantastic habitat for wildlife giving them cover and also allowing them to forage for food in a natural environment with no chemicals or fertilizer being applied to the soil or crop. As a deep rooted crop Miscanthus uses ground water more efficiently and is not susceptible to dry weather like other crops, it also feeds on nutrients locked deep in the ground and absorbs the carbon from the soil and air making it carbon neutral, a big plus in our modern climate. The low maintenance of the crop makes it even more eco-friendly with no machinery needed all year round maintaining it.
We also offer automatic water drinkers to prevent wasted water and rubber matting to minimise bedding required in the stables.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in running a sustainable stable?
Adapting to different bedding and working with it, as they all vary and it takes time to see which fit in the stable both from a comfort and a business point of view.
What kind of feedback have you had from other equestrians? Do you feel they are interested in sustainability?
We certainly have a lot of interest generally both from those around horses and others. It generates a very positive reaction.
If I wanted to transform my stables into a more sustainable stable, what would be the first thing you would change in general?
Water drinkers – great way to save time and money as well as minimizing the wasted water
Do you feed your horses organically grown food?
Our feed comes from Dodson & Horrell who ensure that the vitamins used are not gelatine coated and this enables particular feeds to have The Vegetarian Society Approval.
This together with their policy of using only natural ingredients whenever possible, it can be used with confidence in all situations including for horses that are being kept on organic farms.
Coworth Park is a 70-room luxury country house hotel and spa set in 240 acres of picturesque Berkshire parkland just 45 minutes from central London and 20 minutes from Heathrow airport. Its location, unrivalled in the UK for the ease and convenience of its transport links, is also enhanced by its own helipad. The estate includes an award-winning eco-luxury Spa with indoor pool and three restaurants including the Spatisserie, relaxed dining in The Barn and fine-dining at Restaurant Coworth Park. It is the only UK hotel to feature its own polo fields, which are managed by Guards Polo Club, offering a full programme of polo tournaments. The hotel also offers an exceptional equestrian centre, current facilities include stabling for 30 horses together with self-contained accommodation for grooms.
photo-credits: Coworth Park