Retreat East in Suffolk has been named winner of the Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable  Tourism Award at the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023.

Nestled in 35 acres on a former dairy farm near Coddenham, Suffolk, Retreat East is a luxury retreat comprising 21 private barns, 19 of which are dog friendly, on-site facilities and a restaurant.

The business was launched in 2017 by Dominic Richards who restored and reimagined the original farm buildings as sustainably and luxuriously as possible.

Guests at Retreat East can also enjoy access to a spa, gym and the triple-height Great Barn restaurant, where many ingredients are picked fresh from the organic kitchen garden.

The business employs a number of eco-friendly practices, including the use of responsibly sourced wood, reclaimed bricks and sheep’s wool for insulation, as well as solar panels, an on-site well for water and its own sewage plant. An extensive rewilding project is also being carried out on the site’s former agricultural land.

The judges said that “Retreat East exemplifies a business that has thought about its impact on the environment and developed an operational approach that is clearly based on ethical, responsible and sustainable practices”.

In the restaurant, the use of produce from Retreat East’s own garden allows the chef to “inspire and create a great and varied menu with seasonality at the heart” and combining this with produce sourced from local producers ensures what the judges called “a truly local approach”.

“The team and the owners have worked so hard to ensure Retreat East is a place of eco-escapism,” said Leyton Williams, commercial director at Retreat East. “Our vision and focus have always had sustainability and the environment in mind, so it’s absolutely brilliant to be recognised for our contribution towards this in the East of England. I want to say thank you to our team, who have helped create an extraordinary place for our guests.”


The finalists

Silver - Gladwins Farm Holiday Cottages

Gladwins Farm Holiday Cottages is a collection of 13 bespoke holiday lets in Nayland on the Suffolk/Essex border.

From the design of the holiday cottages themselves to the use of on-site renewable energy sources such as solar panels and trackers, sustainability is a key focus of the business.

The judges called Gladwins “the perfect destination for customers seeking a peaceful and relaxing holiday” and said it “has gone to great lengths to ensure it embraces the values of being an ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism provider”.

Bronze - Hippersons Boatyard

Hippersons Boatyard in Beccles, Suffolk offers a range of selfcatering accommodation as well as dayboat, canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard and pedal boat hire.

Hippersons has deliberately rewilded areas of the boatyard to create habitats for local wildlife. In 2022, it was awarded the Silver Award from the Green Tourism business scheme.

The judges called Hippersons a “a fine example of how a tourism business can be run in an ethical, responsible and sustainable manner” and said that the owners show a “tangible passion and enthusiasm for the subject”.