Palé Hall was built in 1870 and is a grade 2* listed building, widely acknowledged as one of Wales’s most important buildings.
She is a grand old dame of a building and was designed without reference to expense, built in a time when the term carbon neutral was not a consideration. She has single glazing, high ceilings, big doors and takes a lot of keeping warm. We are nevertheless committed to doing our best. Many of our initiatives, taken by themselves, are small but they all add up.
We are fortunate to be in an almost unique situation. We bought Palé Hall in 2015 complete with an outdated and unsafe hydro-electricity plant. This was installed in 1919 and first produced electricity in 1920. The system produced DC electricity; in other words, the wrong kind of electricity, DC being neither safe nor acceptable for a feed-in tariff. Fortunately, the bones of the system were still in place, including a quarry holding the head of water together with nearly a mile of pipework, inspection houses, overflow chambers and a plant house. The old Gilkes turbine is part of the listing and of historical importance, so this needed to be retained. Working around it a new system was designed, installing a new turbine, meter house, new consumer units – the switches to enable us to feed in to the grid – and new fusing systems. The project cost £350,000 and took nearly two years to complete. We produced our first ‘free’ electricity in late May 2017 and the total electricity production to date has been 640mW hours, meaning that we are cash positive to the tune of £110,000 per annum. We are looking at a three-year payback.
Taken over the whole year we now produce more electricity than we use at the hotel. Our next development for this year will be to remove one of the oil central heating boilers and replace it with an electric boiler. Once this is done, all of our hot water, lighting, most of the heating and much of the cooking will be powered from our hydro system.
Free electric vehicle charging
It’s good to share our good fortune. We have recently installed electric vehicle charging points in our car park for both our guests and members of the public to use. We provide this as a free service, with our hydro supplying the electricity; in effect, running the cars on water.
Palé has its own spring-fed water supply. We purify and bottle our own table and room water, both sparking and still, using re-useable bottles.
We have also recently changed our toiletries supplier. We have been working with Cole & Co., a company based in Beaumaris, who make beautiful organic products. We have changed to toughened glass bottles so that we can re-use them. We are asking our guests to be part of the solution to waste from hotels by leaving the bottles behind so that we can re-use them.
There is still much to be done. We are far from perfect but, step by small step, we aim to continue our efforts to use energy more efficiently.
Last week our Sunday lunch was full. To be sure of a table please do book in advance. It’s also the Menai Food Festival this weekend. Adam and Sam will be there at 11am on Saturday representing Palé Hall.
Have a wonderful weekend.