Ecotourism Policy

Environmentally Sustainable Practices

Gregans Castle Hotel is committed to reducing its environmental impact through the better efficiencies in the use of energy and the minimisation of waste, packaging and water useage. A full list is available in our Environmental Policy below. 

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 Trust; An Taisce; Birdwatch Ireland and Leave No Trace. We are also a supporter and sponsor of The Burren in Bloom Festival held in Ballyvaughan each May. 

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 a copy of The Burren Code which seeks to help protect 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. 

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.

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 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. 

List of Burren EcoTourism Network Members:

The Burren Centre
Burren Fine Wine & Food
Burren Ecotours
Burren Smokehouse
Clare Rock Hostel
Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience
Father Ted's House (website coming soon)
Kilfenora Hostel
The Roadside Tavern

In July 2009 as part of ongoing EcoTourism training owner Simon Haden received a Certificate in Ecotourism which was awarded by Sligo Institute of Technology.

The following are actions we have already taken to minimize our footprint on the environment.

• Since May 2000 we have purchased all our electricity from Airtricity. This electricity is generated from windmills located on the west coast of Ireland.
• All food waste and waste office paper is composted (some is collected and some is composted in our own vermi-composter).
• 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 for recycling. In the past five years we have reduced waste to landfill by 66%.
• Most of our heating and hot water is generated by super-efficient combi condensing gas boilers.
• 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, halogen and fluorescent versions.
• We use timber trimmed from our own trees for firewood.
• We use a natural puraflo peat moss treatment system which purifies all wastewater generated by the hotel.
• Our water supply is sourced from a spring on the Corkscrew Hill. We also harvest rainwater for use in the hotel.
• 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). For example lamb is supplied directly by local Burren farmers. Other products such as smoked fish, salads, eggs and cheeses are from the locality. As much produce as possible is sourced from small artisan producers.
• In 2005 we planted 250 new trees. Over the past 30 years we have created new habitat for birds and other wildlife. Recently, native Irish red squirrels have moved into our garden.
• 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 have minimized the use cleaning products and use environmentally sensitive products where possible.
• 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, 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. 
• In 2012 we were one of the first hotels in Ireland to install an electric car charging point (thanks to ESB Ecars).
• We are members of Slow Food Clare, The Burrenbeo Trust and Leave No Trace.
• 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:
• If you feel that you can reuse your towels please hang them back on the bathroom rail.
• 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 contact reception.
• Place glass and plastic bottles, used batteries and newspapers and magazines beside your dustbin. These will be collected by Housekeeping.
• We have provided you with a copy of The Burren Code. Please read this and inform yourself about the Burren and why it's so important to protect and respect it. We have further information available at Reception.
• We welcome any questions or suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Reception.

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