We are proud to welcome one of our newest members to the Sustainable Tourism community, Elmhirst’s Resort. Located a short distance from Toronto, the resort has found creative and practical solutions to make their business more sustainable, including ‘sustainability kits’ for guests, a composting program and a biomass heating system. Read on to learn about how Elmhirst’s Resorts has achieved Sustainable Tourism GOLD certification.
Tell us a bit about your business. What makes you different?
Elmhirst’s Resort offers an authentic cottage resort retreat on the north shore of Rice Lake, Ontario, 90 minutes east of Toronto. Open year-round, the resort has a collection of 30 housekeeping cottages, two restaurants, full service Spa, fitness centre and pools, conference and wedding facilities, boat rentals and docking, runway and air service. The 240-acre resort is a mixture of waterfront, working farmland, gardens, woodlands and natural landscapes. As a fifth generation family run business, Elmhirst’s is unique in its location, setting, farm to table offerings and local down to earth experience that they offer their guests.
Why is sustainability important to you/your business?
The Elmhirst Family, who operate the resort and live onsite, are the fifth generation of Elmhirst’s to operate the farm, and are thankful for what has been passed down to them. For the deep roots of tradition it has provided, and for the connection to place and community that has been entrusted to our care.
The property is the cornerstone of the Elmhirst’s Resort experience, and they are committed to preserving it. Toward that end, they pride themselves on environmental sustainability. In every aspect of the operation, the Elmhirst’s family and staff strive to use resources respectfully and are always looking for new ways to ensure the land’s continued majesty.
The Sustainability Team – Photo contributed by Elmhirst’s Resort
Why did you join Sustainable Tourism?
“Sustainability has always been an important part of the way Elmhirst’s Resort conducts its business activities. The Sustainable Tourism Certification validated much of the work we have done so far but also highlighted some important next steps. Applying a clearer focus to measuring key energy, environment and social impacts, setting goals to sustain consistent improvement, and getting everyone involved on both sides of our guest relationships will amplify the work we have done already. The changes caused by the unprecedented challenges of 2020 create an opportunity to look at Elmhirst’s Resort in new ways and implement new solutions” said Greg Elmhirst, General Manager.
What sustainability related projects, policies or initiatives do you most want travelers to know about?
Energy and Waste Reduction: We have implemented a large volume composting program to make better use of commercial kitchen compost and other organic materials from the farm, gardens and trees. This will improve the humus on our working farm.
Guest Engagement: We are producing a sustainability video encouraging better waste handling, energy and water use that will be easily accessed in each guest accommodation unit via QR code. Guests will also be offered a “Sustainability Kit” prior to check in to reduce use of disposable containers and other environmentally harmful products. For implementation on June 1, 2021.
Roof Solar Panels – Photo contributed by Elmhirst’s Resort
What are some goals and/or actions you plan to take in the future to further increase the sustainability of your business?
In an effort to demonstrate continual improvement in their sustainability performance, Elmhirst’s is committed to an action plan for moving forward. Some of the sustainability action-plan items that Elmhirst’s has undertaken include:
- A Commitment to achieve optimal efficiency in consumption of water and energy inputs with reduction of waste outputs. This includes reviewing data and setting goals, updating procedures and monthly monitoring to ensure goals are being met.
- To implement a sustainable purchasing action plan, which includes creating a sustainability questionnaire for current and future suppliers, revising current RFP forms, and reporting on monthly purchasing with a sustainability grading level.
- To increase stakeholder engagement in the sustainability action plan by involving staff, travel trade tour operators and guests to engage in sustainable practices in their operations and when staying at Elmhirst’s
- Implementing a Sustainability Code of Conduct for all Elmhirst’s Resort team members