Even the sky isn't the limit as the tiny island with a big green heart gets Britain's highest restaurant sustainability score
The tiny channel island of Sark is hitting the global sustainable tourism headlines ("where is Sark" is now searched on Google 500,000+ times a month) for a bunch of very good reasons.
First, last January the inhabitants of Sark, the smallest of the four main Channel Islands, celebrated a unique addition to their list of attractions, one they hope will bring many more visitors in the cold, dark winter season, Sark has been declared the first "dark sky island" in the world.
The award was in recognition of the exceptional blackness of the night sky that makes for spectacular stargazing on the island. On a cloud-free night, countless stars and hurtling meteors are visible against a backdrop of the Milky Way that reaches across the sky from one horizon to the other.
The award by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) a US-based organisation devoted to preserving the darkest and most beautiful night skies on Earth, follows more than a year of work with the island's 600-strong community to ensure as little light as possible spills upwards into the sky, where it can blot out starlight.
"You get spectacular views from lots of places in the UK, but there are few very special sites that are world class in terms of how dark they are," said Steve Owens, an astronomer who led Sark's application to the IDA.
Add to this the spectacular views on the island…and the astonishingly good local accommodation, food and drink. For all of which, Sark is getting award after award.
All the hotels, a pub and a dedicated tourism office within the Sark Island Hotels group have also been praised highly by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
Aval du Creux and La Moinerie Hotel - the No1 TripAdvisor hotel in Sark - and Dixcart Bay Hotel got Green Tourism Gold badges , while Hotel Petit Champ and the Bel Air Inn pub got silver.
In June, Hotel Petit Champ was crowned Small Accommodation Provider of 2012 at the Considerate Hotel of the Year Awards who said it was "most inspirational in terms of its green journey, without all the trappings and resources of big business".
Sark Island Hotels' market gardens, which supply all its hotels with fresh seasonal produce on a demand-led basis to reduce waste, was also crowned Considerate Local Green Supplier of the Year 2012.
And, to cap it all Dixcart Bay, the oldest hotel in Sark, has achieved this year's highest scores in Britain from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
The hotel has shown "dedication to sustainability and a commitment to running restaurants responsibly", said The SRA, who awarded the Dixcart 88%. And in awarding it 87%,
Hendrik Lessing, green ambassador for Sark Island Hotels - and shortlisted alongside chef Raymond Blanc at the 2012 Foodservice Footprint awards - said: "We are extremely proud of the results we've achieved. The Dixcart scored 88% from the Sustainable Restaurant Association and 87% from the Green Tourism Business Scheme and shows just how far we've come in less than a year.
"We are fully aware of the current environmental issues that are affecting the world at this point in time and are fully committed to reducing our carbon footprint by protecting and sustaining local, national and global environments in whatever way we can."
Why all these awards? Because of a massive amount of commitment, enthusuiasm and hard work:
Dixcart Bay 'Green File' contains over 80 eco initiatives it adheres to. The team talks in food metres, not food miles, because Sark is a car-free island and logistics can be done by tractor, by bicycle or on foot.
Mark Linehan, managing director of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, said: "Dixcart Bay has shown what's possible with dedication and commitment to running restaurants responsibly.
"From their very close attention to sourcing the best local, seasonal and organic produce, through to their establishment of a very effective waste management system, the team at Dixcart deserve enormous praise for their efforts in achieving the highest rating of 2012 - so far. They have set a target for others to aim at."
Dixcart Bay Hotel, which recently re-opened after a period of refurbishment, joins La Moinerie Hotel, Aval du Creux and Hotel Petit Champ in Sark in holding three stars from The SRA.
Onwards and upwards? In the words of Green Tourism: "Sark will clearly shortly become a beacon green destination in its own right."
Obviously the sky's not the limit!
THIS YEAR'S SUSTAINABLE TOURISM MASTERCLASS FOCUSES ON FOOD