When iconic coastal hotel Watergate Bay decided to launch a new bath and body product range, the first thing was to research the most environmental way it could be done. Alex Fisher talks to land&water founder Pix Ashworth about her journey of discovery

I am walking along the Cornish coastal path above the expanse of sand that is Watergate Bay. Below a storm is brewing. The wind is getting stronger and whipping salty sea spray into the air. Just a moment ago the sun was shining, dancing off the waves and warming my shoulders. Now a dark cloud has emerged on the horizon, and it’s heading in this direction. Little splatters of rain land on my hot cheeks. My friend glances at me as he unties his sweatshirt from his waist and pulls it over his head. Thunder rolls. The cloud, now directly above, seems to part, spilling its contents. We make a run for the hotel. Hailstones sting as they hit my skin, raindrops explode on our clothes. We start to giggle, making it harder to breathe, and harder to run. By the time we enter the hotel lobby we are both dripping with water and crying with laughter.

When Pix Ashworth – wife and partner of Will Ashworth, owner of Watergate Bay hotel – says that the hotel is all about the location, the natural playground, and that they feel a duty to look after it, I understand what she means. For me, being here on the Cornish coast is all about being out in the elements. When you have a wonderful, warm space to come back to and the exhilaration of the environment makes you feel so alive, what does it matter if you get drenched? It makes sense that the aim here is for the business to be as eco-friendly as possible. Having already switched to 100% renewable electricity, installed an ultraviolet filtration system for the pool to reduce chlorine usage and created a scheme to recycle 100% of food waste using an anaerobic digester, Pix wanted to reassess the products the hotel uses, too. Hotels provide toiletries for guests: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and when you have as many rooms as there are here, this could potentially generate a lot of waste. The logical solution was to create a range for the hotel, but how to do that while ensuring ‘everything about it resonated with what we hold dear at Watergate Bay,’ as Pix puts it – the lifestyle, the environment and ‘being as environmentally-aware as possible.’

Two years of research followed. ‘I started off by saying that I was going to find the right answer, doing this in the most environmentally sensitive way,’ says Pix, ‘but what I soon learnt was that there was no single “right” answer. There were lots of different options, each with their own positives and negatives. It’s not straightforward – you have to choose what is right for you.

‘To begin with I looked into the biodegradable, plant-based plastics that are on the market. However, what I found was that it’s not always easy to trace the provenance of crops grown for this purpose, as sometimes forests might be cleared to plant them’.

The other issue with plant-based plastics is that they are not all degradable in the ways you might expect them to be. ‘I learnt so much,’ explains Pix. ‘There are so many different things to consider. In the end, for us, reusing plastic made sense; we wanted a material that already existed and to recycle plastic waste. We also decided to use glass, as you can recycle this an infinite number of times and the infrastructure to do this is already very good.’

Having settled on the eco-friendly packaging for the toiletries, Pix wanted the product range to evoke the essence of the Watergate Bay Hotel, which is intrinsically entwined with the natural world. Inspired by her experiences of being on the beach, she wanted the fragrances to reflect two positives. ‘When I’m on the beach here I feel both invigoration and exhilaration, but also calm. There is a tension between the two that I really wanted to see if we could capture,’ she explains.

Working with leading apothecarist and perfumer Richard Howard, she settled on natural fragrances such as citrus, lime, mint and ginger to bring invigoration, with woody base tones from cedarwood and clove to bring a sense of calm and comfort. Added to this, there are also some more unusual ingredients, derived from native species, such as hydrosalinol, which comes from samphire. ‘There are chords of scents and every note has its role to play,’ say Pix. ‘There is an emotional response to smell, which hits you first, before the mind thinks. Underneath the invigoration is a calm. Being in nature gives you a simple, uncomplicated happiness, a calmness – how it should be – and this is what I hope we have been able to translate.’

The resulting heady bouquet that infuses all of the products, from the delicious orange, lavender and linden bath salts, to the mandarin and mint room diffuser, does somehow transport me right back to that day on the beach, walking the coast path with my friend – the gentle sun, the salty breeze, yes, but also the rain and the hailstones and the running and the laughter. How exactly Pix and Richard have managed to do this is a mystery to me, but undoubtedly, it’s something to do with the huge amount of thought, love and care that went into the creation process.

To order Land and Water products, in 100% post-consumer waste recycled bottles, go to land-and-water.co.uk. Prices start at £15.

Treat yourself

If you would like to try the full Watergate Bay experience and stay in the hotel, it is currently running a two-night December getaway offer (once reopened), including breakfast and dinner at the Living Space and Zacrys. Prices from £200pp, based on two sharing (01637 860543, watergatebay.co.uk).