Business Spotlights: Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel & Spa

Business spotlight - Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel & Spa

The hotel and spa making sustainability an important benchmark in everything they do

Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel & Spa was established over 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick Fitzgerald as a means to supplement their farming income. Today, it is an 94-room award-winning four-star hotel employing more than 200 people and championing sustainability. 

While Dick sadly passed away, Mary spearheads the business with the support of her four children – David, Elaina, Conor, Richard, and daughter-in-law Orla who all play a role in the management and development of the resort. The resort is located in Limerick, just outside the picturesque Adare Village. Their commitment to sustainability has seen the hotel earn the Sustainability Champion accolade at the Guaranteed Irish Business Awards 2024. 

Claire Keating, Business Development Specialist at Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel & Spa and previous Director at Zero Waste Alliance, speaks on the importance of sustainability to the resort: “Conor Fitzgerald, one of the family members has been a major driving force behind making the hotel as sustainable as possible whilst helping us to reduce our bills. Our Sustainability Manager, Caoimhim Brosnan has also played an important role in advancing our sustainability mission and is constantly striving for ways to improve what we’re doing so the resort is always at the very top when it comes to innovation and sustainability.” 

Navigating sustainability and challenges along the way

Touching on challenges along the way to integrating business sustainability, Claire shares: “COVID-19 presented a variety of challenges but we took the time to really level up our offering for guests. One of our new initiatives was an outdoor dining space which won Ireland’s best outdoor dining space for two years in a row. It’s a very unique space which includes outdoor food cabins and a tented area. The whole concept behind The Treehouse is that it is zero waste. All packaging is either recyclable or compostable and we do not have any plastic out there. This was something that came solely because of COVID-19 but has proven to be a real success.” 

She adds: “While COVID-19 was a challenging time, we took it as an opportunity to do a lot of work in the hotel from installing solar panels, assessing our heating systems, and ultimately, reevaluating everything.”

Like any business wanting to embrace sustainability, it can be hard to know where to begin or what to prioritise first. With Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, they installed their solar panels first. 

Claire says: “We have 230,000 kilowatts of energy that we generate now from the solar panels, the PV panels, and what we have on the roofs and we have them all over the hotel. They are proving to be excellent in terms of reducing our energy. Following that, we started looking at all our lighting and replacing it with LED energy-efficient bulbs in all of the rooms, lobbies, function rooms, and meeting rooms. We also upgraded our water system and heating system which are proving to be fantastic savings.” 

By installing a state-of-the-art combined heat and power system, the hotel decreased its electricity usage by 46 percent and gas usage by 14 percent over the course of five years, creating more stable ambient temperature throughout the resort. Moreover, the resort has its own well and waste-water treatment plant on-site which means it is entirely self-sufficient. Not to mention, it features state-of-the-art EV chargers that cater for up to 6 vehicles. 

Gaining a competitive edge with state-of-the-art infrastructure and an organic garden

Claire discusses how the sustainability initiatives have given Fitzgerald Woodlands House & Spa a competitive edge: “We are basically generating 65 percent of our own electricity. This is allowing us to make incredible savings but it also gives us a competitive edge for potential customers and even for applying for awards. The attraction on social media from people has also been fantastic. Many of them did not realise how much we have done sustainability-wise in the hotel. As trailblazers in the industry, we’re all about showcasing our vision and sharing the work we have done.” 

A number of years ago, Mary Fitzgerald created an organic garden in the grounds of the hotel to supply the kitchen and bar with the freshest and most natural ingredients possible.  Following that, the Fitzgeralds embarked on a journey to convert the land into a certified organic farm, becoming one of a small handful of hotel properties in Ireland to grow its own certified organic produce. 

Claire explains: “We grow a lot of our fruit, vegetables, and herbs, and incorporate them into our menus in the hotel. This is a great USP as people like to know where the produce is coming from and we can tell them it’s from our garden. Using these ingredients, we make our own apple juice, apple tarts, honey and more. We try to use everything so none of our produce goes to waste.” 

Tackling waste and striving to eliminate single-use plastics

Any food waste is composed and used for Mary’s Organic Garden and the organic farm, both of which are home to trees planted as part of the resort’s carbon offset programme. In addition to growing their own produce, Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel & Spa are very particular about where they purchase other food products such as meat and fish. It is very important to the family that they purchase from ethical and local suppliers. They also cook to order instead of mass-producing food which means not only curbing waste but providing customers with fresher and tastier meals. 

Speaking on their efforts to reduce waste, Claire shares: “We have water refill stations in each of the corridors so guests can refill their water bottles. We’ve even addressed waste in our rooms by eliminating all plastics. Instead of offering a bunch of single-use toiletries, we have some behind the desk if people need them. Nine times out of ten, people bring their own toiletries and these items go to waste.”

The next sustainability goals for the resort are upgrading the pumps in the leisure centre, upgrading the changing rooms, and sourcing a cover for the pool so that it can maintain a constant optimum temperature. Claire gives some advice to other businesses ready to embark on their sustainability journeys: “It’s all about baby steps; concentrate on those small changes that need to be made. Remember, there are so many companies out there currently who are willing to help and offer advice so don’t hesitate to reach out for support.” 


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