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The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu: Beautifully Balancing Tradition and Luxury (4)

By  William Wang (CRI Online)

14:57, September 24, 2012

Complimentary grass slippers are made locally. (CRIENGLISH.com/William Wang)

"We look at energy consumption in a range of ways," Spear continued. "It's not just building; it's how you operate and how you practice. On a Meta level, we look at the energy used per guest. And so our aim is to reduce the amount of energy used per guest in our restaurant and in our lodgings per guest night."

But doing things "right" isn't always easy. Spear at first opted against providing slippers in rooms, considering them as either wasteful or unsanitary, not anticipating the complaints that Asian guests would lodge. The ingenious solution was to hire a local woman to make traditional grass slippers to be taken away by guests as souvenirs or (if left behind) to be chopped up and added to The Schoolhouse's compost pile.

In the context of being situated in a village, Spear noted that sustainability is about sustaining the local community. A touch of uncharacteristic pride comes out as Spear details the impact that The Schoolhouse has had on the local community, claiming to now be its largest employer.

The restaurant has been a key part of The Schoolhouse's growth, having made a name for itself as part of Beijing's Slow Food movement where local and natural ingredients are prioritized over anything prepackaged. High quality western (and some Chinese) food is lovingly created using ingredients that often come from neighbours' farms. For those who are unable to stay in the Schoolhouse overnight, it's worth talking a ten minute walk down the road to enjoy a special meal in a special place.

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