Updated: Nov 16, 2021
With climate change and sustainability being top of the news at the moment I thought that it'd be the ideal time to take a look at OUR business and see how we measure up.
Cadair View Lodge Office + Admin
As many of you may know Cadair View Lodge HQ isn't in Trawsfynydd but on the island of Anglesey - 46.5 miles away. That might sound quite unsustainable - all of that travelling! With the wonders of modern technology I don't actually travel over to Trawsfynydd THAT often - certainly not every week. If something has to be taken over there we weigh up whether it is easier, cheaper and better for the environment for it to be sent by post rather than doing the 93 miles round trip. Things like task lists (arrivals, cleaning schedules, etc.) are emailed and communication between the Office and the "Cabin Crew" is done either by messenger or email.
Over the years our admin has been refined and changed, both to meet the Business' needs and also to reflect changes in technology.
Payments: We used to take payment by cheque, which had to be posted to us and we then had to take to the Bank (or post to the Bank). Then we went on to take card payments over the phone. These were processed via a desktop card machine. Rolls and rolls of till rolls later, we moved on. Now we accept online payments (guests mostly inputting their own card details into a secure portal) and bank transfer. Both paperless and mile free.
Records: Having worked with computers since the late 1970s, when it came to Cadair View Lodge records I wanted to have them digitally so we invested in our first CRM (customer relationship management) system. This told us WHO, WHEN and WHY - recording all enquiries and bookings. However taking a "belt and braces" approach we also printed out details of every booking. We printed and posted all booking confirmations and arrival instructions to guests back then too. This system was "backed-up" every week onto numerous CDs.
Now our records are held "in the cloud" on an equivalent online system and, except in very rare circumstances, booking confirmations and arrival instructions are sent to guests by email. This has save quite a few trees!
A similar thing has happened to our accounts. The endless sheets of printed paper, receipts and bank statements that we used to keep are now held digitally with both us and our accountant being able to see them online.
Our Physical Office
Cadair View Lodge HQ... the cubbyhole where I spend my days! Well it's a bit more than a cubbyhole. My Office overlooks the garden in Anglesey. I can hear the birds, the horses trotting down the lane (and the tractors). In the Summer, I can open the door into the garden. We have 32 solar panels on a south facing roof which, on a bright day, is more than enough to power my PC, desktop screen, WiFi hub and charge my phone (excess gets sent to the National Grid). During the winter months the office is kept at a workable temperature by a small electric heater (under my desk) but I'm usually wrapped up with a fleecy blanket around my legs and (on the coldest of days) a hot water bottle near by to keep my hands toasty. We've been told that as we live close to sources of wind and solar electricity we are more likely to actually get that sustainably generated power physically through our wires.
The Office is mostly lit by daylight but as the days get shorter (and sometimes grayer) I just need an LED desk light so that I can find my pen!
Our Office furniture came from IKEA in the 1990s! It has moved several times but does the job perfectly well still. Not planning to replace it anytime soon.
Our computer equipment is a little elderly (I cringe at the price of a new laptop) but with the help of our local IT angels, does all that we need it to do safely and securely - especially now that we don't have to maintain a large, hungry database on site. As I said earlier, we don't print anywhere near as much as we used to have to do so the printer (plus ink and paper) need replacing far less often.
When Cadair View Lodge began trading (2003) things were very different. The internet was quite well established but social media didn't (or hardly) exist. We were "slaves" to Vistaprint. We printed leaflets, promotional cards and business cards by the thousand (I still have some in the Office). We gave them out. We left them in prominent places. We sent them to other companies. Again, times have changed. Our marketing is now done online via our website, social media and newsletters.
It has recently been highlighted that we are all storing too many photos online - which has an impact on the environment. We are making an effort to clear out our online photos and documents that we no longer need (or that are duplicates). It's far too easy to take (and store) half a dozen photos when there is only one decent one or to video something that doesn't need to be kept (I usually video the readings on cabin electricity meters - useless once the reading has been submitted). We are also clearing out physical documents and leaflets from our Office. I'm a dreadful paper hoarder... just in case, but I'm making an effort to recycle as much paper as possible from our filing.
Cadair View Lodge were the first company locally to leave Welcome Packs for their guests. At first they were literally baskets with goodies in.
Things changed and we had to be able to leave things for external cleaners to put into cabins. At this point, to make sure that guests received their items in the best possible condition, we moved on to using plastic bags (we tried paper sacks but they ended up crumpled and looking a mess). This wasn't ideal as we were trying to reduce single use plastic bags.
From here we moved to small cardboard boxes that had tea bags, coffee sticks, sponges cloths and bin bags in them and things like washing-up liquid and loo cleaner was replenished by the cleaners as needed. The cleaners bought fresh items from the shops to put into cabins (these were often bought 10-11 miles away in Dolgellau). We found that more and more often guests weren't using (or taking home) the fresh items and they were being thrown away. This may've been because they'd brought their own items or maybe because they wanted a vegan, gluton free, lactose free item instead.
Then Covid struck! We wanted to still leave our welcome packs, because our guests told us that they appreciated them. BUT we had to make them Covid secure. We came up with the idea of sealing everything into a cardboard box. Each guest would have items just for them and they were encouraged to take the box (made FSC certified cardboard) and any unused items home (or to recycle). Because the box needed to be sealed up (and the contents untouched) at least 72 hours before guests received it we had to think about the fresh items. Having spoken to Iwan who owns Siop Glyndwr in Trawsfynydd village we came up with the idea of giving guests a voucher. The value of the voucher would be enough to cover the fresh items that we'd always supplied BUT could be used against anything in the shop. This also solved the issue of guests getting things that they actually wanted and not wasting items. Whether it's almond milk or gin guests can buy something that they need (or want).
We try to make the contents of our welcome packs as sustainable as possible but it is a juggling act between cost, practicality and sustainability. We've swapped bottles of hand wash for bars of soap. OK, they're still wrapped in plastic (helps to stop the teabags smelling of soap) but we're saving on the plastic bottle AND a pump dispenser. Also we changed the plastic bags (for tea, coffee, sugar sachets) for paper, old fashioned sweet shop style ones . Bin bags have to be practical (neither us nor you want your rubbish leaking on the way to the bin) and the best (only) way with them is black plastic. It's something that we'll keep looking at.
Cadair View Lodge managed properties are now cleaned and the laundry is done by a very local team - based in Trawsfynydd village. This is in contrast to some other local management companies who rent their laundry from (and send it to be washed by) a company 25 miles away. By using a local team we not only provide employment for local people (who buy their supplies and spend their earnings locally) but also cut out the huge carbon footprint of a wagon travelling backwards and forwards several times a week and of cleaners travelling miles and miles in large cars or vans.
Cadair View Lodge Managed Properties
Those of you who have stayed in our log cabins will know all about their construction. They ARE made from wooden logs! Not from breeze blocks faced with wood and they're not caravans with cladding on the outside. They were built in the 1970s and have been lovingly maintained every since. With the right care who knows how long they'll last, whereas caravans are often "thrown off" sites after 10 years or so and are made with lots of plastics.
Over recent years the cabin maintenance practices have changed. The cabins used to be painted every year with a paint which didn't allow the wood to breath. This would have to be scraped off (some owners used paint strippers) or burnt off and re-done. Not only costly in time and physical energy but also very bad for the environment. Now most cabins have been stripped back to the bare wood (for the last time) and a stain has been used to preserve them. Not only does this look better and allow the wood to breath, it also means that the wood is less likely to rot under the paint and have to be replaced. The stain obviously does need redoing periodically but it lasts several years and doesn't need the chemicals or burner to strip it back.
All of the cabins are heated by electric heaters. Many of the owners have been upgrading their heating systems from old storage heaters to more modern, more efficient storage and ceramic heaters. Owners have also been insulating their cabins to keep them warmer AND to keep the electricity bills down. Some of the cabins also have remotely controlled heating which the owners can turn on and off as needed. It was always an issue over winter months as to how much the cabins needed to be heated. With owners watching the temperatures they can switch it on when the temperature drops.
We know that some of our guests forget to switch on-demand heaters off when they leave their cabins and so some of our owners now also use timer switches on these heaters. This means that on-demand heaters are switched on for maybe 2 hours. They then switch themselves off and cabin occupants can, if needed, switch them back on for another 2 hours.
For cosy evenings guests are encouraged to "cosy up" with throws and hot water bottles.
Old "tank type" water heaters in the cabins have also been changed for much more efficient "on demand" ones. Some cabins do have a small hot water tank but these are of a modern, efficient design.
We used to leave cabins ready for guests' arrival with lights on and music playing. We decided that this wasn't a sustainable practice and so we stopped doing it. Our team also make sure that TVs (and other devices) haven't been left on standby by guests leaving.
Our owners have largely embraced LED bulbs and outside lights are operated by PIR sensors, meaning that they only come on when needed.
We ask guests to recycle as much as they can when they stay and their are bins at the refuse area for guests to separate their waste.
At the moment there are no electric car charging points at the cabins but we believe that there will be communal ones (for use by all Village visitors) available soon.
This building isn't under our control. It belongs to Trawsfynydd community.
As far as recycling goes I think that the building can have a gold star for itself. I believe that it's been an employment office, a hotel and more in its time. It's now a heritage centre downstairs and accommodation upstairs.
The building is heated (and the hot water supplied) by and oil fired boiler. Whilst we want our guests to be comfortable we try to make sure that the heating is only on when the building is occupied.
The lighting in the hallways in the building are operated on a PIR system meaning that only lights that are needed are being used.
We ask that guests recycle as much as possible when they stay and, of course, lots of the guests at Llys Ednowain arrive by very sustainable, eco-friendly means... they cycle to us or walk (we're on 2 long distance footpaths)!
Do you have any suggestions for other things that we can look at to make ourselves more sustainable? We'd love to hear suggestions (not sales pitches). As we don't own the properties we can put ideas forward BUT can't make owners implement them.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
See our website at www.CadairViewLodge.co.uk
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