Breaking Down the Sustainable Hotel: Helping the Community

by josh

Maasai peopleAlthough sustainable hotels are often only scrutinized by their environmental impact, at Global Basecamps, we believe a sustainable hotel should not only be energy efficient and ecologically responsible, but also help sustain its local community.

In this new series of blog posts, we will be investigating what makes a sustainable hotel, from green building techniques and design innovation to conservation efforts and community outreach. Because sustainability is so wide-reaching and complex, we’re breaking down the sustainable hotel into its simpler parts and explaining the criteria for great sustainable hotels.

Knowing what makes a great sustainable hotel will help you choose responsible accommodations for your next adventure!

And because it is so often overlooked when considering sustainability, let’s start the series with community outreach.

Why is community outreach important for sustainability?

Sustainable development and travel is as much about the environment as it is about society and economy. A hotel can hardly be considered sustainable if it does nothing to sustain the lives of the locals around it.

How can hotels help a community?

Really, the only limit to this list is creativity! Here are just a few ways that hotels have helped their local communities in the past—but new ideas are being developed every day.

  • Go local—locally owned hotels are more likely to follow fair trade practices, buy local products, and provide adequate wages to their workers.
  • Alleviate poverty—whether it’s delivering food to the poorest neighborhoods or installing mosquito nets, these hotels take more immediate approaches to improve the living conditions of their communities.
  • Improve infrastructure—hotels that support road building or community water distribution make a lasting impact. The International Ecotourism Society conducts several voluntourism programs to help build infrastructure
  • Encourage involvement—it’s as simple as educating their guests about the community around the hotel, and how guests can support and contribute.
  • Unlock human potential—providing education, teaching job-specific skills, or exclusively employing local residents all help the community reach its full potential. Universal education is a major goal of the United National Millennium Project, an international effort to eradicate poverty.

Innovations in Sustainable Travel: Shinta Mani Siem Reap

Shinta Mani Siem Reap exteriorA prime example of a sustainable hotel that goes above and beyond to help the community is Shinta Mani in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Shinta Mani is a hotel, but also home to its own Institute of Hospitality, where at-risk teens are taken in and given hospitality industry training. Students are given an education in a variety of hotel departments including general management, culinary art, spa therapy, and housekeeping in addition to English lessons. Since 2004, the Institute has graduated 125 students, all of whom have secured future employment, changing their lives and the lives of their families.

Not only is the education free, but students are provided with a weekly stipend, uniforms, meals, and four kilograms of rice for their families. The Institute is jointly funded by hotel operations and private donations (usually from the hotel guests themselves).

Shinta Mani Siem Reap gives back to the community.On top of all that, Shinta Mani spearheads a large number of other community outreach initiatives that focus on installing clean water pumps, giving bicycles, and building brick homes in poor slums of Siem Reap. The hotel management actively encourages hotel guests to become involved and to visit the students of the Institute of Hospitality and hear their personal stories.

We commend the Shinta Mani for their commitment to giving back to their local community in Cambodia.

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says... Breaking Down the


Great article, Josh! It's so true -- you can never underestmate the importance of community involvement! I am planning a summer trip now, and will make sure to check out the policies on sustainability at any hotel I stay at! Keep blogging, and I will keep reading!

says... Great article


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