Being climate-aware can make simple choices daunting…like where to go for a weekend break. There are so many travel brands out there who call themselves eco-friendly, from hotel groups to tour operators. But it can be difficult to cut through the noise and figure out who might be ‘greenwashing’ and who is genuinely working on a solution that is great for both the environment and the guest. Our sustainability writer, Rachael Lindsay, tells us that Cynefin Retreats is the real deal.
Despite marching for an hour along the rural Welsh-English border to reach Cynefin Retreats, my weariness is replaced by excitement as I discover my spacious, luxe pod in the heart of the woodland.
With a large living space and bedroom, each pod has been designed with nature in mind. Built from local timber as part of a scheme designed to support forest resilience, glass windows stretch from floor to ceiling on one side, giving the illusion that you are dining, relaxing and sleeping in the very heart of the countryside.
The wooden bird towel hooks and a spare pair of binoculars delight me but my favourite feature is the hot tub. Nestled in the corner of the cedarwood decking, I linger for too long in its bubbly depths, watching the steam rise into the cool night air against the stars.
Toasting marshmallows on our open fire in front of the pod takes me back to my experiences of camping as a child. Except now I don’t have to dive into a chilly tent when the fire dies down. Instead I head for my sumptuous soft bed, my eyes drifting closed whilst trying to read the next chapter of my book.
It has rained in the night, giving the world behind the curtains that dewy look of spring despite the autumnal colours. The glass doors ache to be opened and I tuck into breakfast with hot coffee on the veranda whilst making a plan for a walk into the nearby literary town of Hay-on-Wye.
Meandering through the woodland at Cynefin Retreats, I come across wildflowers and meadow plants. Bird, owl and bat boxes create a haven for local wildlife and guests are encouraged to spot hedgehogs, Canadian geese and buzzards flying overhead.
Our walk into Hay-on-Wye for a browse of its famous second-hand bookshops and a hearty pub lunch is quite the adventure as we cross streams and muddy fields. We pick up some food to cook up a storm for our evening meal in the warmth of our pod’s kitchen. Feeling rather like I am on a film set, I watch the sunset and stoke our log fire by turns whilst our supper stew simmers.
It is clear that the design of Cynefin Retreats is about bringing guests closer to nature. Yet less glamourous features show its owners’ dedication to the environment. Electricity is from a green supplier, the soaps are natural and locally made, each pod is extremely energy efficient and bins for guests’ raw vegetable waste feed the woodland plants and trees.
From construction through to suppliers and land management, Cynefin Retreats is the best example I have come across of truly sustainable eco-tourism. As well as the right credentials, it gave me a sense of tranquillity and restoration that only a few days living in nature can provide.
If you need a retreat and want to see one of the best examples of eco-tourism that #TeamCoco has come across, book your luxe-pod at www.cynefinretreats.com.