Fairmont St Andrews makes quite an impression. Set in more than 500 acres of striking coastal grounds, it’s a grand, imposing presence with sweeping clifftop views out to sea. Guests can explore the resort’s idyllic setting with a range of outdoor activities, including – because this is St Andrews, after all – a game on one of the hotel’s two championship golf courses. Meanwhile, indoors is every bit as impactful: spacious, contemporary rooms; a light, expansive dining area; and a luxurious, state-of-the-art spa. It’s hard not to be impressed.
But how does a five-star hotel like this ensure it’s making the right kind of impact? The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts group is a pioneer of responsible tourism, having led the way on sustainable hospitality for the past three decades. Easing the environmental impact of its properties is a priority, and the hotel at St Andrews is no exception. When nature gives you a spot as beautiful as this one, it’s only right to look after it.
In an effort to reduce the hotel’s consumption of single-use plastic, Fairmont St Andrews recently replaced disposable water bottles in its 212 guest rooms with reusable glass versions. This move alone saves more than 55,000 plastic bottles a year, and plans are afoot to introduce drinking fountains throughout the resort. The fountains – installed in partnership with Scottish Water – will offer free refills to ramblers, whether they’re staying at the resort or merely passing by.
The hotel’s commitment to promoting sustainability was strengthened in 2018, when it established an on-property beehive capable of housing more than 20,000 of the bees we all know are so vital to our planet’s ecosystem. A large portion of previously manicured lawns were returned to native grasses and wildflowers to create the ideal habitat for the burgeoning bee population, and the European honey bee is already thriving on site. In fact, the Fairmont bees are expected to produce around 4kg of delicious honey in their first harvest this year.
Positive efforts like these embody Fairmont’s principle that hotels should be at the very heart of their communities. Reducing the environmental footprint of a resort is one thing, but actively contributing to the local community in a practical and constructive way creates even more profound benefits for the area.
One such community contribution at Fairmont St Andrews is the resort’s three-year Junior Hotelier apprenticeship scheme, which welcomed its first intake of 10 eager young locals last year. They’ll experience every aspect of the industry, from kitchen to finance, and will be offered full qualifications and certifications in all areas of the hospitality education system, making the programme Scotland’s most comprehensive hotelier scheme of its kind. Developing local talent is such a focus for the hotel that it is currently working with Skills Development Scotland to roll out the apprenticeship nationwide.
But it isn’t just the locals who benefit from this unique approach. The priority of every luxury hotel is the comfort and enjoyment of its guests, and for Fairmont, playing a meaningful part in Scottish life means giving visitors more. Fairmont St Andrews can offer its guests world-class golf courses and indulgent spa treatments, but it can also offer them an authentic connection to their destination, introducing them to the true character of this historic corner of Scotland.
Guests are invited to meet local hawks Murray and Dougal, who are brought onto hotel grounds by expert Steve Brazendale, also known as “The Scottish Countryman”. There’s also the option to go fly-fishing for both rainbow and brown trout, which will then be cooked and served in the St Andrews Bar & Grill. And for those who don’t wish to catch their own, Fairmont’s emphasis on strong relationships with local suppliers means that all scallops on the hotel’s menus are hand-dived from the west coast of Scotland and all lobsters are caught in the bay at the front of the resort.
In fact, the ingredients of every meal, from the hotel’s lauded “Scottish breakfasts” to sophisticated afternoon teas, are either grown on site or sourced locally, with an emphasis on seasonality wherever possible. Nearby farms and family butchers provide high-quality Scottish meat, while jam is made by Trotter’s, a business run by two brothers just along the coast in Leven. This is a resort that truly supports – and is supported by – its neighbours.
Perhaps that’s why guests return again and again, seeking unforgettable moments and unique experiences created at the heart of a real-life community. Perhaps it’s also why staff are so proud of the hotel; why Fairmont St Andrews is more than just a place of work for them.
Concierge Mauireen Derby Quinn reckons so. “I think it’s the spirit of Fairmont St Andrews,” she says. “There is something inside here that makes everyone happy to come to work every day.”