Pictured: sisters Deborah Wakefield, Emma Stratton and Rebecca Whittington of the Scarlet and Bedruthan hotels
Sisters Deborah Wakefield, Emma Stratton and Rebecca Whittington reinvented the luxury West Country hotel experience when they set up the Scarlet, a cool, pared down eco hotel that makes the most of its incredible clifftop location over Mawgan Porth beach. Middle sister Emma shares their Cornwall with Country Calling.
Cornwall is in your blood with your grandparents and then your parents running the much loved Bedruthan hotel in Mawgan Porth. Where were your favourite secret Cornish places as children? And now as adults?
Our father would take us swimming off the cliffs around Mawgan Porth and occasionally Tolcarne in Newquay. We would climb down cliffs, jump into deep areas of water and it gave me a life long love of adrenaline inducing sports. As adults I take my own three boys for adventures wild swimming and kayaking around tiny coves on the North and South coasts (as long as the weather is calm) to watch the birds. Occasionally we see dolphins and porpoises. When they play around the kayaks and then suddenly disappear it feels like magic.
The Scarlet environmentally conscious sleek hotel for grown ups has a very different feel to the Bedruthan. What was the inspiration behind setting it up?
As three sisters with our families, dogs, chickens, living happy everyday chaos, we wanted to create somewhere we could escape to with our husbands and remember why we married them. It is easy to forget to give time and space to each other so to be able to escape to spend time together very simply, sharing laughter and watching the sea, is so important for your soul. We also wanted to prove that an environmentally sensitive hotel can feel deeply luxurious and restorative.
Food is a highlight at the Scarlet, perfectly described by chef Tom Hunter as 'modern food with soul.' What are your favourite Cornish foods to eat?
At home we are almost self sufficient during brief periods in the summer – we catch mackerel from the kayaks, have new potatoes and raspberries from the garden and endless pancakes from all the eggs our hens lay (when we can find them – they love laying in the hedges) so it would have to be simple meals like this. Eating at Scarlet is definitely a treat though as Tom and his team cook fish sublimely – much better than I do…. Fish cookery courses next!
How would you spend a perfect West Country weekend?
Well we built our dream escape in the Scarlet so we do try to steal away for a night or two each year and come back feeling restored. Otherwise I love visiting some of Cornwall’s inspiring gardens and the outside theatre productions – we are excited as this year we have some open air theatre performances at Bedruthan from Miracle and Illyria Theatre companies – I can’t wait.
Where's the best place for a campfire beach party?
Any beach in Cornwall where your friends are – just remember to bring your own firewood – soggy, salt-laden drift wood creates a load of smoke and on when it is dry, it provides habitat for some of our wonderful coastal insects.
Which is your favourite Cornish view? And pub?
Watching the bats fly as the sun sets – you can see this anywhere in Cornwall. The King’s Head at Ruan Lanihorne because the welcome you get is great.
And finally please would you share with us a hidden gem?
Be the last person on the beach – any beach and in this bubble of solitude just sit or stroll and think about the transience of life and what you can do to make a difference to our world. All hidden within you until you have time to think - Precious stuff indeed.