Sustainability in the countryside

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* Performing 25% better than EarthCheck’s Regional Average benchmark.

The EarthCheck Silver Certified Whatley Manor is a multi-award winning 5-star country house hotel located on the edge of the Cotswolds, one of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful regions. The hotel offers guests a unique and luxurious stay, including Michelin-starred dining, a relaxing and rejuvenating spa experience and a chance to connect with a beautiful garden. The property is committed to responsible luxury and seeks to operate sustainably and ethically. 


Whatley Manor is a privately owned family business and runs under the direction of its General Manager, Sue Williams. With the support and commitment of the hotel owners, Sue has guided the hotel to be one of the first UK boutique luxury hotels to tackle climate change issues. Whatley Manor has undertaken a complete review of every aspect of its operation. They have set sustainability goals and implemented robust plans to meet those goals.

Whatley Manor is a valued member of a global group of tourism operators who dare to make a difference - Stewart Moore, CEO and Founder, EarthCheck

The journey

A meeting with the founder of ItMustbeNow in 2019 became the catalyst for change at Whatley Manor. As one of the UK’s most respected hoteliers, Sue, realised instantly the implications and impact that the hotel was having on the environment and the importance of implementing immediate change. 

Whatley Manor subsequently undertook an impact assessment of the business and then connected with EarthCheck in mid-2019 for an EarthCheck Evaluate assessment, which accredited the property with four (4) Earths. 

When Whatley commenced their journey in 2019, Sue was one of only a handful of hoteliers responding to the urgency of change. It was quite a journey to change how the business operated and fully commit to becoming a luxury country house hotel with meaningful, sustainable credentials. The team also had to consider how they would operate sustainably within a 150-year-old building and what innovations could be leveraged to transform it into a low-carbon, sustainable operation.

Crucial to Sue and the owners was that the transition and commitment to operating sustainably were independently audited by a credible and reputable organisation aligned with the travel and tourism sector. After upgrading from the EarthCheck Evaluate program to the EarthCheck Certified program in 2021, the hotel received the coveted EarthCheck Silver distinction in October 2022.  

Whatley has been recognised by several industry awarding bodies since 2019 including:


"We are delighted to be the first UK countryside luxury hotel to have achieved the Silver accreditation awarded by EarthCheck. This serves as a solid testament to the sustainability initiatives we have deployed at Whatley since 2019. We are committed to continuing this challenging yet meaningful and exciting journey. We hope to achieve our net zero carbon emission goal for Scope 1&2 by 2028 and Scope 3 by 2035. To avoid catastrophic climate change, the world needs to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Today, we are already at 1.1 °C and feeling the effects, meaning that the window for achieving our target and avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change is rapidly closing. The very environmental values and cultural assets that attract visitors to destinations need to be protected and responsibly managed. The tourism industry and its operators are key to creating this change."

Whatley Manor’s Strategic Approach

Vision: To be an environmentally responsible hotel, restaurant and spa; to help achieve a cleaner, safer and healthier world for ourselves, our families and for future generations.

Pledge: To achieve net-zero emissions for scope 1 & 2 by 2028 ad scope 3 by 2035 or sooner.

Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals: We are committed to ensuring that as a business we contribute where we can to each of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals however we have identified 6 key goals that we can focus on more fully as a business and so contribute to in the most positive way. 

Working with their supply chain

Whatley Manor realised early on that to deliver on their sustainability commitments, they had to bring their suppliers along the journey. A hotel operation is reliant on many providers of goods and services. Whatley Manor believes that it is essential that all of the suppliers they engage with must understand their journey and be aligned to sustainable principles.

The hotel reviews their supplier relationships regularly to ensure that they work with the best possible service providers. Their suppliers must remain committed to their sustainability goals and keep their values aligned with Whatley Manor.

This ever-evolving process is managed strategically:

  • We work with suppliers to reduce or reuse packaging
  • Every process in the business has been reviewed to enable us to use materials that are as sustainable as possible.
  • We constantly review our suppliers to ensure we are using the most environmentally friendly products and services available to us
  • All our suppliers must sign a code of conduct including modern slavery act
  • We keep in touch with suppliers and audit them to ensure they maintain their sustainability journey and stay aligned to our values

In 2019 Whatley Manor removed single-use plastics completely from guest bedrooms and public areas – this was our first key achievement.

Whatley Manor supports its supplier network and partner companies on their journey toward sustainability by sharing campaigns and best practice initiatives. This includes inviting their suppliers to a workshop day to share their vision, voice challenges, work on solutions and celebrate success. Subject matter experts and those who have achieved success are invited to speak and provide additional insight and learnings on the day.

Commitment to community

Supporting their community has always been important to Whatley Manor. The hotel is part of a rural community and has always been a key local employer and supporter of local services. They also prioritise the support of industry initiatives and charitable organisations helping past and current employees.

Whatley Manor’s community engagement has become increasingly important to them as part of their sustainability commitment. In their local region, there is a strong appetite for learning more about sustainable living practices. There is also an evolving commitment to climate action and the education of the wider community. Whatley Manor is well placed as a business and employer to support this local activity and share its knowledge and learnings.

Whatley Manor have supported:

  • Earth Day Litter Pickup
  • Climate Action open days locally
  • Apple Day events
  • Hosted local sustainability groups events – community gatherings to share local knowledge, best practice and general information
  • Collaborate with Malmesbury Against Plastic
Walking the talk

Sue will be the first to admit that there was a lot to learn when she embarked on this journey in 2019. Such was her commitment to Whatley Manor and the journey the business was undertaking. She enrolled in the Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership’s first Business and Climate Change: Towards Net Zero Emissions course; she was the only hotelier amongst the initial 290 candidates. The insights gained empowered Sue to reset the hotel’s goals and refine its focus and ambition of becoming a leading environmentally responsible hotel operation. Since then, the key targets of net-zero carbon emission for scope 1 & 2 by 2028 and scope 3 by 2035 underpin every aspect of the operation.

Key resources and engagement initiatives include:

  • Knowledge and passion shared by Sue
  • Full time Sustainability Officer – sharing best practice across the business
  • Part Time Supply chain Officer – reviewing the supply chain
  • Green induction program for all new employees
  • On-going green training for team members
  • Supplier audits and code of conduct


Whatley has also made some enhancements that they hope will reduce the time to achieve their goals:

  • October 2022, introduction of Biogas which will remove 502 tonnes of CO2 per year
  • Waste carrier certified zero to landfill
  • Certified Green Electricity 


The future

Whatley Manor’s journey continues. Since 2019 the hotel’s sustainability goals have evolved as the world changes, there have been some critical curve balls in this time, but Whatley Manor’s owners, Sue and her team, remain committed to preserving the planet and delivering a luxury guest experience in a meaningful way.

Today sustainability lives at Whatley Manor. The whole team is committed to being responsible for their actions as a business and as individuals to ensure they meet their goals.

The business has been recognised nationally as a leader in sustainability in the luxury country house sector in the UK. Sue has also become an industry leader and is passionate about encouraging hoteliers to do more or, at the very least, begin their own journey.

For Whatley Manor, there is still more that can be done, and their partnership with EarthCheck helps them to identify the gaps and improve year on year with new initiatives. The hotel will continue to work towards its key goals. It will constantly evolve its operation to minimise its impact on the planet, reduce its emissions and work with others to foster a thriving sustainability community.

As part of their journey, Whatley Manor wants to build their reputation as a destination for the conscious traveller, to demonstrate that consideration of people and place is possible in the environs of a luxury hotel experience.

Whatley Manor considers it essential to continue to lead and educate the travel and tourism industry and to be an example for others, which shows a business can achieve success whilst also achieving a positive outcome for the planet.

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