YHA Pen-y-Pass has come first place in the Hostelling International 2013 Sustainability Fund, landing an impressive 40% of the total votes and winning £25,000 to put towards its pioneering biomass boiler project.
Pen-y-Pass is known as the Snowdon base camp due to its convenient position right at the foot of the impressive Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Since Victorian times, Pen-y-Pass, which sits 1,000ft above sea level, has hosted would-be conquerors of this epic mountain.
As well as the chance to ascend Snowdon, Pen-y-Pass offers hostellers and school groups the chance to experience the dramatic beauty of Snowdonia National Park as well as local attractions such as the Welsh Slate Museum and Caernarfon Castle.
The hostel is set to reopen after refurbishment in March 2014 – there will be 27 bedrooms, 16 of which will be en-suite, as well as a licenced restaurant and education facilities for the local community. Pen-y-Pass currently welcomes thousands of disadvantaged young people every year who visit to take part in the educational and leisurely activities held by the hostel – YHA England and Wales believe all children should have the opportunity to experience learning away from the classroom, showing that hostels can have a beneficial impact on the local community and are not, as the stereotype goes, purely for backpackers!
When the biomass boiler project is finished, Pen-y-Pass will be awarded the Green Dragon Environmental Standard for its achievements – a prestigious award recognising effective environmental management. The boiler, which will run on wood pellets from sustainable sources, will reduce carbon emissions by a staggering 86% as well as significantly reducing the cost of heating the hostel; Pen-y-Pass’s heating oil costs were previously the highest in the YHA England and Wales network.
Matthew Teasdale, manager of Pen-y-Pass, was thrilled with their HI Sustainability Fund win. He said: “Pen-y-Pass is a fantastic, truly unique location over 1,000ft above sea level and our customers love to stay with us.
“Our old, dilapidated heating and hot water systems were a regular source of wonder for our customers, with a lack of controls meaning the hostel was often fully heated in the height of summer!
“The state-of-the-art new boiler system will ensure that tens of thousands more customers in the coming years can stay in and experience the heart of Snowdonia whilst leaving a much smaller carbon footprint than at present – everyone’s a winner!”
Here at Hostelling International we hope to one day achieve a worldwide network of sustainable hostels – tourism will never be completely eco-friendly but competitions like the HI Sustainability Fund are an important way of helping our hostels around the world to achieve this shared vision and leave as little impact on the environment as possible while still retaining that unforgettable HI hostel experience which draws people back again and again.
Caroline White, chief executive of YHA England and Wales, is keen to pursue further development in hostels in the England and Wales network: “We’re continuing to invest in our hostels to make sure they continue to offer the great welcome and friendly stay of which we are rightly proud.
“We want to make sure that we continue to have world class hostels in fantastic locations and to make sure that as many people as possible know about what a great time they can have when they stay with us.”