One of Birmingham’s oldest hotels is saving thousands of pounds a year – thanks to running its very own water-supply.
The Macdonald Burlington in New Street has developed a unique cottage industry pumping water up from an underground well dating back to the hotel’s origins in 1873.
The environmentally-friendly water is provided from a source which also supplies nearby businesses in the heart of Birmingham, including Waterstones, Starbucks and others.
And the hotel, well known to previous generations of visitors and Birmingham drinkers as the Midland, also lays on complimentary bottles of water for guests as a by-product of its unique water source.
Derek McDonagh, Midlands managing director for Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, said: “The history of this hotel is vast. There are underground tunnels, which are still there, built to connect to the railway station. The tunnels were used to bring mail from Colmore Row as there used to be mail sorting offices up there.
“We were the link between Colmore Row and the railway station. The tunnels were blocked off a few years ago by health and safety. There are three storeys below the hotel, and there used to be Turkish baths down there.
“Birmingham is built on a lake, it used to get all its water from boreholes.
“It’s an environmentally-friendly system – we bottle the water and provide it complimentary in all bedrooms.
“The well saves us thousands of pounds a year, you are talking about supplies to showers, baths, toilets etc. We also supply Waterstones and Starbucks and some of the shops in between and they pay a fee for the maintenance to Hortons.
“The hotel dates back to 1873 and was originally owned by the Horton family, who still own it today.
“A lot of people say to me ‘I remember it being the Midland Hotel, we used to drink in the bar downstairs.’
“So many people remember it from years gone by. In the 90s it changed to the Burlington.”
Mr McDonagh said the Burlington was cashing in on the growth of the city centre over the last decade.
“We are extremely busy. When I arrived, the new Bull Ring was just opening in 2003.
“I came in at the end of 2002, I remember the Christmas markets when it was just a few stalls.
“The city centre has been transformed. This is a major event city and for that, you have to have quality hotels.
“Business peaked in 2006-07, we had gone through the recession from 2008 to 2012, there was a tightening up of the market.
“Birmingham is very much a corporate-driven city, people come here because of major conferences at the NEC and ICC, they come and spend money in the city.
“It was boom-time from 2005 to 2007. We are becoming more about a leisure destination than we were before, rivalling London with the quality of our restaurants and we’ve been put on the map with the opening of the Bull Ring and the Mailbox.
“Since 2012, we have been increasing numbers in double percentage figures. 2014 was an excellent year and 2015 is shaping up to be the same, and that is being driven by the corporate market.”