Ecotourism Policy

Environmental Policy

At Gregans Castle Hotel we take the potential negative effects on the environment that the activities of our business can cause very seriously.

In line with this we will continually strive to improve our environmental practices in a range of areas including energy and water useage. We will also continue to develop a number of ecotourism experiences for our customers to enjoy.

We are members of The Green Hospitality Programme which is the only Irish developed environmental certification standard for the hospitality sector.  The GreenHospitality.ie Eco-label and Awards are recognised both nationally and internationally as standards that allow members achieve good environmental performance and allow visitors to choose “Greener” hospitality businesses knowing that defined criteria are being implemented and monitored. During 2018 we are working towards full certification.

We are founding members of The Burren Ecotourism Network. Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people” – The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

It is B.E.N’s long-term vision that the Burren will be a premier, internationally-recognised ecotourism region, ensuring the future economic and social growth and sustainable development of its communities, environment and heritage. B.E.N. aims to become a recognisable network of enterprises in the Burren, all of whom have achieved independent accreditation, demonstrate ecotourism ‘best practice’, positively discriminate in each other’s favour, provide ‘one voice’ representation on issues impacting the Burren (where appropriate) and inspire conservation activism.

B.E.N. has three specific aims:

• The development of a self-sustaining ecotourism network of accredited Burren businesses with a Burren ecotourism brand

• The promotion of the Burren as an accredited ecotourism destination.

• The provision of continued training, mentoring and accreditation in ecotourism for businesses interested in joining the network.

Owner Simon Haden is the holder of a Certificate in Ecotourism which was awarded by Sligo Institute of Technology.

The following are actions have taken by us and continue to be taken to minimize our footprint on the environment.

• Since May 2000 we have purchased all our electricity from Airtricity. This electricity is generated in Ireland from wind energy.

• All food waste and waste office paper is collected for composting.

• All garden waste is composted and then reused in the garden.

• Cardboard packaging, newspapers, magazines, glass, cans, plastic bottles and used light bulbs and batteries are all returned to our suppliers or collected for recycling. We are committed to further reducing waste to landfill.

• All of our heating and hot water is generated by new and efficient combi condensing gas and oil boilers. We have replaced all radiator valves with thermostatic versions over the past 12 months.

• All heating, hot water, refrigeration and electrical equipment is serviced and maintained annually.

• When replacing electrical equipment only “A” rated appliances are purchased.

• We have an energy useage monitoring system. We are gradually replacing light bulbs used in the hotel with low energy led and halogen versions.

• We use timber trimmed from our own trees for firewood.

• We bottle our own water from our own private mountain spring for use in our bedrooms and restaurant. All glass bottles are reused. The same mountain spring supplies the hotel.

• We use an onsite natural reed and willow bed treatment system which purifies all wastewater generated by the hotel.

• We have established a herb garden for use by our kitchen.

• Each year we carry out a cleanup of litter from The Corkscrew Hill.

• As much as possible of our food is sourced from local producers thereby reducing food miles (the distance that food must travel to get from farm to fork). Products such as meat, fresh fish, smoked fish, salads, eggs and cheeses are mostly from the locality. As much produce as possible is sourced from small artisan producers. Our kitchen team also forage in the immediate area.

• Over the past 30 years our tree planting has created a new habitat for birds and other wildlife. Native Irish red squirrels have moved into our garden as well as other wildlife.

• We do not use weed killers or other harmful chemicals in our gardens.

• When redecorating the hotel, we use when possible natural pigment paints and natural fabrics.

• We provide high quality chemical free natural bath products in our guest bathrooms.

• We are currently transitioning to chemical free cleaning products.

• We send e-invoices were possible to reduce the amount of paper that we use and also re-use paper at the front desk and offices.

• We support environmentally sustainable tourism by encouraging guests to walk or cycle while staying at the hotel. We have free bicycles for guest's use, have walking maps available at reception and book a local walking guide for walks on The Burren. We host many small walking and cycling groups at the hotel and sell our own walking packages.

• We have 3 electric car charging points (provided by the ESB and Tesla) for use by hotel guests.

• We are Gold Business Members of The Burrenbeo Trust. The trust engages with local and visiting communities, old and young, to generate a sense of informed pride in their heritage and landscape. They promote the Burren as the ultimate learning landscape as a means of future sustainable management of the region. They also develop and share knowledge of best practice in active community stewardship, place-based and community-based learning.

• For many years we have lobbied local and central Government on planning and conservation matters which relate to The Burren.

You can play your part:

• Towels left hanging in the bathroom will be left for you to reuse, others will be changed.

• Please try not to run water unnecessarily and inform a member of staff if you notice any leaks.

• Please turn off all lights and electrical equipment when leaving your room.

• Please close the windows if the heat is on in your room. To regulate heating turn the radiator valve anti-clockwise for on and clockwise for off. Please contact reception if assistance required.

• Place glass and plastic bottles, used batteries, newspapers and magazines in the bedroom dustbin. These will be collected by Housekeeping for recycling. Please use the bathroom dustbin for other waste.

• We have provided you with some information on The Burren. Please read this and inform yourself about the Burren and why it's so important to protect and respect it.

• We welcome any questions or suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Reception.

Environmentally Sustainable Practices

Gregans Castle Hotel is committed to reducing its environmental impact through better efficiencies in the use of energy and the minimisation of waste, packaging and water useage.

Natural Area Focus

Gregans Castle Hotel sells packages/experiences to its guests that encourage interaction with the natural environment of the Burren through walking, birdwatching, botany and education.

We encourage our guests to leave the car behind and explore the area.

Interpretation and Education

Gregans Castle Hotel provides its guests with literature (books, leaflets etc.) and maps on the local area. We are always happy to give further information and make recommendations based on sound local knowledge.

Contributing to Conservation

We are members of the following organisations: The Burren Ecotourism Network, The Burrenbeo TrustBirdwatch Ireland and Leave no Trace.

Each year we organise a litter clean-up of The Corkscrew Hill which is a very popular tourist viewing point.

Hotel guests are provided with information on The Burren which assists them in helping to protect and respect the landscape including the limestone pavement, plants and built heritage of this irreplaceable ‘fertile rock’.

Benefiting Local Communities

We work actively with other local business whether through informal referrals or through formal partnerships (such as through The Burren Ecotourism Network). We employ as many local personnel as possible and purchase as many quality local products and services as is possible. We also contribute to local fundraising activities, for example the Ballyvaughan Tidy Towns Committee, The Galway Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Clare Haven, The Peter McVerry Trust, Domestic Violence Response, The Irish Blue Cross and Second Chance Animal Rescue, 

Visitor Feedback

Visitor feedback is important in helping us maintain and improve our products and services, including our environmental practices. All guests are given a Customer Feedback Form and are encouraged to complete it.

Responsible Marketing

We use web-based marketing activities as much as possible and have a strict policy of not using mailshots. We keep in contact with regular customers through the use of e-zines. Recycled paper and card are used in the printing of brochures and leaflets.

Cultural Respect and Awareness

Staff at the hotel are encouraged to be respectful of the culture of visiting guests. Equally, guests are encouraged to be respectful and aware of local culture and sensitivities. Guests are encouraged to interact locally in pubs, or through traditional music and dancing or local events such as sporting activities.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace Ireland is a network of organisations and individuals with an interest in promoting the responsible recreational use of the outdoors. As increasing numbers of people seek the beauty and exhilaration of outdoor recreation, our collective mark on the environment and its natural processes, increases. Litter, disturbance to vegetation, water pollution, wildlife, livestock and other people are all indicators of the need to develop a national ethic that protects both natural and cultural heritage. Techniques designed to minimise the social and environmental impacts to these areas are incorporated into the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Education Programme.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace:

At the heart of Leave No Trace are seven principles for reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities. These are:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

2. Be Considerate of Others

3. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife

4. Travel and Camp on Durable Ground

5. Leave What You Find

6. Dispose of Waste Properly

7. Minimise the Effects of Fire

Leave No Trace Ireland promotes and inspires responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. The programme strives to build awareness, appreciation and respect for Ireland's natural and cultural heritage and is dedicated to creating a nationally recognised and accepted outdoor ethic that promotes personal responsibility.

It encourages all outdoor enthusiasts (e.g. walkers, mountain bikers, canoeists, orienteerers, horse riders) to do their part to maintain those lands used by the public for the benefit of the environment and for future generations.

Practicing a Leave No Trace ethic is simple. Make it hard for others to see or hear you and LEAVE NO TRACE of your visit.

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