Red hot eco-hotel The Scarlet rocksBy Stuart White
March 22, 2010
Smitten STUART WHITE has added The Scarlet in stunning Cornwall to his shortlist of favourite hotels
Everybody says Cornwall is the best place to go on holiday, “if you get the weather”. Always the emphasis on the weather which we all know is unreliable, at best. The Scarlet, however, has re-written the rulebook and blown away the rain clouds.
It is open year-round for a start and is a destination hotel in its own right. You don’t have to leave, although Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant at Watergate Bay is only two miles along the rugged coastal path. Pretty fishing town Padstow, to the north, is a short drive. The renowned coastline is one of the greatest attractions to the sleepy South West, where the pace of life eases you into holiday mode as soon as you see the sea.
The red road I was following lead straight to Mawgan Porth, a tiny pass-through with a surf shop, pub, bright blue house on the cliff and a cracking beach. It is a full mile long when the tide is out and trapped between the rocks. Overlooking everything now is The Scarlet.
The vision for the brand new boutique eco-hotel, which opened late last year, was simple – “a place to eat, dream and play in peace”.
For the record, it is now in my top three places to stay – along with Capofaro in Sicily and The Betsy in Miami Beach – and brilliant.
It is distinctly Cornwall, yet Grand Designs cool and modern. The exterior of the new-build hotel bends and curves to optimise the view from each of the 37 exciting bedrooms, which range from just right to indulgent over five different levels in the cliff side.
Don’t be fooled, eco-chic does not mean going without here. The hotel has a sustainability plan and can name 101 ways in which it is doing its bit for its superior environment next to the Atlantic.
For example, the insulation from the old Tredragon Hotel, which it replaced, was carefully dismantled and is now used to keep monkeys warm at a near-by sanctuary.
There’s a grey water harvesting leaflet to read up on, and discounts for those who arrive by foot, bike, bus or rail. I probably shouldn’t say that Newquay Airport is just a 10 minute drive away.
Team Scarlet, run by sisters, are strict believers in the ‘cherish our world philosophy’, and even potential employees were marched down to the sandy beach to pick litter.
“It was an X Factor style recruitment day,” admitted one of the chosen heroes. “They wanted staff with a can-do attitude. To work as a team.”
Other tasks, like creating art out of beach materials, helped assemble the squad, who really stood out as being friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about where they work.
The hotel is open year-round, not seasonal, and all employees are either from Cornwall or have willingly relocated on full-time contracts. Things like this make a difference.
I must now talk about the food. Head chef Ben Tunnicliffe aims “to put a big fat juicy smile on your face and warm feeling in your belly”.
Honest food, with Michelin presentation and always seasonal flavours. So in-season the menu changes daily – he simply rings up his producers in the morning to see what’s fresh. How can anybody not like the sound of that?
Running parallel to the upmarket restaurant, I had beef and monkfish, my wife had pork belly and red mullet, there is an ‘anytime anywhere’ menu to order from at will – soups, salads, light meals and traditional cream tea. Picnic hampers for explorers can also be arranged. Everything is designed to be the way you want it, when you want it.
Jamie’s Fifteen is the perfect alternative if you did want a change of scenery, either for lunch after a fairly tough coastal walk or dinner. It looks out over surfy Watergate Bay and, like The Scarlet, is class.
Before dinner you must take drinks in the outdoor log-fired seaweed hot tub back at base.
Plonked right in the front of the hotel, try and book in the sunset slot and order some fizz for an unforgettable holiday experience. More than likely it will be the first thing you tell people about back home and well worth £35 per couple.
The outdoor chemical-free pool filtered by reeds was freezing in February so I stayed indoors and did a few lengths, and relaxed in the sauna. I also had a massage.
The Ayurvedic spa has a great long list of treatment ‘journeys’ tailor-made to get you back to peak condition. It worked, and writing this is making me want to go back right now. I love Miss Scarlet, she is red hot.
Stuart stayed at The Scarlet Hotel, Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall TR8 4DQ. Prices start from £180 per night to the end of April, including breakfast. For more information and best deals visit scarlethotel.co.uk or call 01637 861800.
Fifteen Cornwall is wholly owned by the registered charity, The Cornwall Foundation of Promise, which supports and inspires disadvantaged young people in Cornwall. All restaurant profits from Fifteen Cornwall go straight to the charity to run the training programme for young chefs. Visit fifteencornwall.co.uk or call 01637 861000 for more information.