The finalists have been announced for the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award at the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023.

This award recognises local businesses that are committed to being sustainable, ethical and responsible in how they operate and interact with customers, the wider community and the environment.

Here are the finalists for this year's award.

The Comet: Gladwins Farm Holiday Cottages has cost-saving solar panels and trackers installed on siteGladwins Farm Holiday Cottages has cost-saving solar panels and trackers installed on site (Image: Susie Bradshaw)

Gladwins Farm Holiday Cottages

Gladwins Farm Holiday Cottages is a collection of 13 bespoke, award-winning holiday lets set in the stunning countryside of Nayland on the Suffolk/Essex border.

The family business has been trading for 30 years and currently employs 12 members of staff, with a yearly turnover of £600,000. Up to 80 guests can be housed in the 10 comfortable holiday cottages and three eco-friendly lodges on site, the latter of which were built in the last year.

The team at Gladwins believes that tourism and sustainability can and should go hand-in-hand and strives to apply this ethos to every aspect of the business, from the design of the holiday cottages and the use of onsite renewable energy sources, through to smaller details such as supplying fair trade drinks and using energy efficient lighting. Cost-saving solar panels and trackers were also installed on site 10 years ago.

The judges commended Gladwins’ Green Tourism Gold Award status and “the work required to achieve this standard of accreditation”.

They were impressed with the “commitment” and “continued investment” from the business owners to deliver on their ethical, responsible and sustainable credentials, as well as the business’ links to the community and use of local suppliers where possible.


Hippersons Boatyard

A family-owned microbusiness located on the Norfolk/Suffolk border in Beccles, Hippersons Boatyard offers a unique glamping experience in a range of self catering accommodation as well as dayboat, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and pedal boat hire for guests in its small area of the Broads National Park.

The business has existed since the 1950s, changing ownership and its offering over the years from refrigeration to boat repair, moorings, overnight boats and now, holidays. It has been under its current ownership since 2014.

It has a strong marketing policy that ensures that a variety of markets are targeted throughout the season.

Hippersons is committed to taking care of the environment and has deliberately rewilded areas of the boatyard to create habitats for local wildlife. Since starting this initiative, the site has seen a significant increase in wildlife including insects, otters, birds and even a seal. In 2022, it was awarded the Silver Award from the Green Tourism business scheme, which promotes sustainable tourism across the globe.

The judges were impressed with “the knowledge and passion of the owners” when engaging with responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism, and also praised their cooperation with local businesses and overall involvement in the local community.

The Comet: Retreat East is based on a former dairy farm near Coddenham, SuffolkRetreat East is based on a former dairy farm near Coddenham, Suffolk (Image: Retreat East)

Retreat East

Set on a former dairy farm near Coddenham, Suffolk, Retreat East was launched in 2017 by Dominic Richards and offers stylish accommodation in 21 private barns, 19 of which are dog friendly.

Guests at Retreat East can also relax in the onsite spa, workout in the gym or enjoy tasty food seven days a week in the triple-height Great Barn restaurant, where many ingredients are picked fresh from the organic kitchen garden. There is also a self-catering option for guests.

The business was recently named Romantic Hotel of the Year by The Times and The Sunday Times in their Best Places to Stay 2023 guide.

Retreat East prides itself on its eco-friendly practices, which currently include the use of solar panels, responsibly sourced wood, an onsite well for water and its own sewage plant. The business works with local suppliers and uses plant-based cleaning and aromatherapy products. A rewilding programme for the former agricultural land is also well underway.

The judges said that “Retreat East has a real focus on providing ethical, responsible and sustainable practices throughout the business” and also commended the support the business provides to local community groups, as well as the work it has undertaken with the local catering college.

The winners of the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 will be announced at a black-tie event held at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, Ipswich, Suffolk on Thursday, March 16.

To view the full East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 finalists supplement, please click here.