The Hotelier Edit: Swinton Estate, winner of AA Sustainable Award 2022
The Independent Hotel Show collaborated with our partner, AA Media and interviewed Swinton Estate, a private estate in North Yorkshire, England, owned by the Cunliffe-Lister family since the 1880s. It is a 20,000-acre estate with a variety of activities and attractions, including a hotel, spa, golf course, and glamping. The estate is also committed to sustainability, and was awarded the AA Sustainability Award in 2022. Some of the ways in which the estate is sustainable include using renewable energy, recycling waste, and reducing water consumption.
Can you tell us a little about the history of Swinton Estate?
The Swinton Estate dates back to the late 1600s and has been in the ownership of the Cunliffe-Lister family since the 1880s. The 4th Earl of Swinton and the Countess of Swinton, Mark and Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, are responsible for the running of Swinton Estate. Alongside the running of the rural 20,000-acre Estate, Mark and Felicity converted Swinton Park, originally a Georgian Country House, into a hotel in 2001. Since then, there have been the additions of Swinton Cookery School (2003), Swinton Birds of Prey (2006), Swinton Bivouac glamping site and café (2012) and the Country Club (2017).
What does great customer experience look like at Swinton Estate and what makes it unique?
We pride ourselves on being ‘Uniquely Swinton’, with guests welcomed into the family home as a base to experience unique experiences on the 20,000-acre Estate. From a garden tour with Dame Susan Cunliffe-Lister, cream tea with a falconry display or yoga in the Spa Garden; through to remote, intimate experiences - private dining in a moorland bothy hut, celebration at the Deer House surrounded by the Estate’s herd of fallow deer, or a picnic on a private Island.
What do you think defines an independent hotel?
Offering a unique experience for guests, and unparalleled welcome, service and a sense of an opulent ‘home from home’.
How are you approaching the issue of sustainability?
At Swinton, we are constantly working with our natural landscape. Our philosophy is sustainable management which recognises that people are part of nature, and that the countryside is at its best when we contribute in harmony.
As an Estate, we accept that we have a part to play in the ordering of nature, but it is as stewards over a lifetime and not as spoilers or plunderers. We are continually looking at ways to develop a greater understanding of a farmed landscape, where we can work with the nature to manage its richness and where we recognise the ecosystems upon which we are all depending.
Over the next five, ten and twenty years we will be delivering an ambitious plan which will see Swinton recognised for and remaining at the forefront of strategic environment policies.
We recognise the importance of our natural capital and as we seek to understand more, we will continue to improve.
Swinton Park Hotel became one of the first hotels in the UK to have all its heating and hot water powered by a carbon-neutral biomass boiler, installed in 2006. The hotel now has two biomass boilers, one that provides heating and hot water for our Cookery School, Country Club and Swinton Park Hotel. The other is based as Swinton Bivouac, our glamping site.
How do you approach creating your menus and sourcing food and drink suppliers?
We pride ourselves on being ‘Estate to Plate’. The four-acre Walled Garden grows fruits, vegetables and herbs, where chefs pick fresh, seasonal ingredients for the day’s menu. The wider 20,000-acre Estate delivers grouse, pheasant, pork, venison and trout – with next to zero food miles. Where we can’t source from the Estate, we use quality, local suppliers to limit food miles.
Ruth Hansom, Executive Head Chef in Samuel’s Restaurant at Swinton Park Hotel, is creating fabulous Epicurean Tasting Menus, showcasing Estate and local, seasonal produce.
Our drink suppliers are as local as possible, with eco-credentials in line with our own.
Are there any innovative products or services you have implemented in your establishment that you would recommend to other hoteliers?
Ground source heating, carbon off setting and genuine, locally sourced produce on menus.
The 2023 AA Hospitality Awards are taking place on Monday 25 September.
To find out more, visit the AA Hospitality Awards site.