voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley

Creating a one-of-a-kind boutique accommodation experience

When it comes to travel, how much of your decision on where to eat, drink and sleep are based around the environmental footprint you leave behind?

It’s a heavy question and one that you're most likely on board with in theory, but who has the time to actually research this?! Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a hotel that had the environment and sustainability at the core of their business.

Well that hotel exists and it's located right here in the Hunter Valley.

Set on 70 acres of prime Hunter Valley real estate, voco Kirkton Park is all about providing a bespoke accommodation and dining experience, from arrival, to check-out. What sets the experience apart is voco Kirkton Park's desire to engage guests in the initiatives they’ve taken to become carbon neutral.

Caleb Morris, Director of Sales and Marketing at voco Kirkton Park says, “this focus on playing locally with food, cocktails and wine, growing our own produce and minimising our carbon footprint wherever possible was a practical, common-sense decision for the hotel. It has real meaning and relevance for us given our location and so far, our guests have been responding really positively to the initiatives we’ve put in place.”

This commitment, or passion, for sustainability and local fare doesn’t just extend to Locavore, the very appropriately named restaurant [locavore meaning someone who predominantly eats locally grown produce]. That’s just where it starts. Their “little” kitchen garden currently supplements around 30% of produce for the restaurant and bar, a figure they aim to increase to 60-80%. They also introduced monthly Long Lunches, a celebration of local food and wine, as well as a long list of other environmentally-minded improvements. 

“Some of the hallmark things we have established are no longer offering plastic straws, using recycled PET for the bedding and moving from offering single-use toiletries to the larger bottles of Aveda products in the rooms” says Caleb. “We also use recycled water across the estate made up of rain and treated water, there is a chicken pen which we collect the eggs from and we also have pigs on the estate who assist with our food waste.”

What’s really impressive is voco’s 370 panel solar farm, installed at the end of last year, which produces enough electricity to power the entire estate during the day. The next step towards becoming self-sufficient will involve finding a suitable means of storing the electricity generated to enable night-time use. 

And, the piece de resistance? voco’s ‘Trees for Bees’ program – a simple, and very effective system enabling conference guests to minimise their carbon footprint by planting trees. ‘Trees for Bees’ has two purposes one being to tangiblise the idea of carbon emission reduction and two being to assist with the longevity of their onsite bee colony by increasing the number of native Australian flowering plants on the estate.

“The idea of carbon offsetting has been popular since the airlines introduced it as an option for flyers, but I think people struggle with understanding how businesses spend that money to benefit the environment”. “We’ve had really great engagement so far with ‘Trees for Bees’ and this is partly due to its simplicity, the program is genuine and our guests can see the real, tangible benefits”.

So how does it work exactly? Carbon emissions calculations can be tricky with total emissions gauged based on a number of factors such as; conference/event attendees, cars utilised, flights and room nights. An energy credit is then applied (thanks to the solar farm) and a final carbon emissions figure arrived at. From here, you partner with Carbon Neutral, buying into their planted tree program which determines the number of trees required for the event to become carbon neutral.

voco Kirkton Park do all the tree planting side of things, they'll even add your companies name giving it that nice personal touch.

“We’re really proud to be the first hotel within IHG to make sustainability a key business objective and we’re also the first hotel to partner with Carbon Neutral. It’s definitely a goal of ours to show how sustainable business practices can be achieved in a way that’s significant and cost-effective for the hotel and our guests. It’s about shifting that mindset, one step at a time with the hope that what we’re doing will go mainstream.