A unique Northumberland holiday destination has been named the most sustainable in the country.
Laverock Law, near Holy Island, scooped Visit England’s Gold Award for Sustainability after its owners impressed judges with their meticulous attention to detail and passion for the local area.
The group of holiday cottages are the brainchild of Harvest and Dave Harris-Jones, who run the business with their two children, Rowan, 14, and Poppy, 12.
In 2011 they set about turning their dream of running a sustainable, environmentally-friendly holiday business in Northumberland into reality.
The group of four cottages and ‘shepherd’s hut’ were renovated from the ground up by the family, and place guests at the heart of the local countryside and wildlife.
Every aspect of the business, from the biomass boiler, to supporting and promoting local businesses, is taken into consideration, which is why they won the award.
The couple managed to get their venture up and running with a holiday let mortgage from The Cumberland, appreciating the support and advice they also received along the way from their lending manager Rachael Cross
Harvest, 39, who was a teacher in Cumbria prior to the venture, was delighted with the win, after travelling to Bath this month to collect the award.
She gave some sage advice to others looking to get into the industry: “You need to go into business with your eyes wide open, but make sure you stick to what you believe in.
“You need to have a passion for people, and providing an amazing experience, allowing people to relax or explore the area. Be ambitious and stick to your principles, but resist the temptation to spend beyond your means.
“We aim to have a good impact on the local area, as well as being a lovely place to stay. We pay staff more than the minimum wage, support local businesses and produce, and try to show guests the local hidden gems.
“Working with The Cumberland, who Dave has banked with for over 30 years, was an ethical decision, but the personal service we have received has been fantastic.”
A family business
The couple were keen to stress how everyone in the family plays a key part in the business, with Rowan taking pictures for his small greetings card business, and Poppy collecting eggs and baking for guests.
Rachael Cross, senior business lending manager for Cumberland Business, praised the innovative couple, and their determination to run a more sustainable tourism venture.
Mrs Cross said: “It’s a big challenge for anybody to set up a tourism business, especially one that focuses so carefully on sustainability and the local environment.
“We are really proud to have been able to assist them in purchasing the property and turning it into something the local area can really shout about.
“Although this is the first hospitality business Harvest and Dave have run, they both had relevant previous experience and the passion to make a sustainable business successful.”
Now in its 29th year, the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence is firmly established as representing the highest accolade in English tourism.
Judges specifically highlighted the attention to detail paid to every business decision at Laverock Law, how well it acted as a base to explore the local area, whilst making a positive impact on the local environment.
Dave, 51, drew upon his previous experience as an environmental consultant in setting up the business.
He added: “All the cottages were semi derelict and lacked love, we knew that this was going to be a large undertaking, but we were up for the challenge. It offered the perfect base to explore this beautiful area of Northumberland.
“We have done the majority of the renovations ourselves which now have become three beautiful holiday cottages for people to build memories in.”