Finding my Balance: Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman is the founder of Bouteco, a social enterprise that profiles design-led hotels with outstanding eco credentials.

Why did you launch Bouteco?

I’d been a journalist for almost 25 years, 12 of which I spent editing the boutique hotel guide, Mr & Mrs Smith. During those years I grew increasingly uncomfortable reviewing hotels that weren’t aware of their impact on the environment. As time went by this focus became more acute. At the same time people began asking my advice on which hotels were genuinely paying it forwards versus those that were merely paying lip service to sustainability.  

What is the idea behind Bouteco?

Many boutique hotels struggle to survive and those brave enough to strive for ‘the triple bottom line’ by adopting business models that work for people, planet and profits deserve to be championed. Consumers need to know what outstanding looks like so they can make more informed decisions. 

So we ask the right questions: How energy efficient are they? What water-saving strategies do they have in place? Are most of their team hired locally? Do they have an ethical supply chain when it comes to procurement? It may sound boring but when you start looking at back-of-house practices, some hotels are truly inspiring! 

Is there an aspect of sustainability that you are most passionate about?

My personal goal is to focus more upon improving education — in every way. We recently made a documentary about an extraordinary charity that’s hosting boarding houses for girls in the High Atlas Mountains — Education for All. A project that was set up in partnership with a Bouteco-beloved hotel, Kasbah du Toubkal.

This all sounds like hard work. When did work last feel like a proper rest? 

I love being in green, green hills. This year I had the most wonderful dose of countryside at Casa la Siesta in Spain, just south of Cadiz, a charming cortijo. Driving here from Jerez past Andalucia’s pueblos blancos was like seeing the many travel articles I’ve read or edited about this swathe of southern Spain come true…

More restful still was my trip to Romania this summer with ‘Slow Cyclist.’ Peddling our way through Transylvania by day, through Carpathian Mountain scenery of wildflowers and terraced vineyards pausing in pretty centuries-old pastel-painted Saxon villages passing only horse-drawn carts on the road… 

How do you get a good night’s sleep when you’re always on the move?

Getting a good night’s sleep has always been the bane of my life and over the years I’ve come to realise that it is the biggest influence on my health; how I look and how I feel. 

In my twenties, I’d drink coffee all day and down Red Bull vodkas at night to cheat the ZZZ’s. How times have changed… I’m now focused on getting the rest my body needs to switch off and recharge completely. Jetlag does affect me, so I pack accordingly and when I get home my bedroom in the heart of London is my sanctuary.

I spend on high-quality 100% organic cotton bedding (I love Rise & Fall) and high-quality mattresses (Eve make excellent affordable beds) and shut up my devices at 9pm each night (who knew working on your laptop late is like drinking two double espressos at bedtime!?) 

What other tips would you give those seeking to get some proper rest?

My mum brought me up to eat a balanced diet. Protein and green vegetables at dinner time and an old-fashioned book at bedtime all help balance me. 

All women, especially in middle age need regular exercise to keep the hormones in check and build strength to mitigate against the increased threat of osteoporosis. I get my HIT at The Clock in Notting Hill. The gym’s 15-minute formula hails from nutritionist and trainer Zana Morris. It’s a truism but exercise and restful sleep go hand in hand but if I miss a few weeks the trouble begins. My back starts to ache and I feel blue. 

Health is wealth – invest in it wisely!

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