Monday, September 27, 2021


Southeast Asian hotels up the sustainability ante
May 2021 1267

From feeding rescued elephants and recycling used cooking oil to designing eco-friendly key cards and giving $10,000 away to deserving projects, these hotels are leading the sustainability cause in their region.



The Anam has rolled out an eco-friendly key card, made of wood sourced from sustainably managed forests, that its guests use to access their rooms, suites and villas. The Anam is one of the first luxury resorts in Vietnam to replace polyvinyl chloride (PVC) key cards with the water-resistant wooden key cards, certified by international non-profit forest management organisation Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

“The wooden key cards are non-toxic and biodegrade easily, they look much more high-end than the old plastic cards, and the chip inside is stronger; you only have to hold the wooden key card near the door for the door to open whereas with the old plastic cards you had to actually touch the door with the card to open the door,” said the resort’s acting general manager Peter Ye. The wooden key cards are the latest of many efforts by the resort to reduce the use of plastic and single-use plastic. The Anam has previously replaced plastic water bottles with recyclable glass bottles, plastic straws with rice straws, plastic bags with bamboo bags and more. Such efforts are part of the resort’s wider efforts to be environmentally friendly, including regular beach clean-ups, recycling laundry water to maintain its lush gardens and using solar power.



Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh has a partnership with Naga Earth, a local NGO which collects used cooking oil from hotels and restaurants in Cambodia and recycles it into clean burning diesel fuel (biodiesel) as well as a glycerin by-product that is used to produce an environmentally friendly soap. The biodiesel and eco soap is subsequently distributed to underprivileged communities, including local mechanics, around Cambodia.

Since the hotel opened in January 2021, the Hyatt has donated more than 200 liters of used cooking oil to Naga Earth. “It’s an interesting solution to air pollution as biodiesel fuel is less contaminating than petroleum diesel and it’s a renewable energy source. It also helps prevent street vendors from using used cooking oil, which can make people sick,” said Herman Kemp, general manager of Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh. In partnership with Eco-Soap Bank, the hotel also collects used soap from the property’s 247 guestrooms for redistribution to populations in need in Asia and Africa.

After the soap is sanitised and upcycled by a team of Cambodian women, the clean new bars are sent to vulnerable communities in Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Lebanon, Rwanda, Kenya, Eswatini, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and South Africa.



The first Meliá resort to open in Thailand has provided land for a community farm to help feed elephants rescued from exploitation activities. Located 200 metres from Meliá Koh Samui on the north-eastern tip of Koh Samui island, the 250 square metre farm supports 200 banana trees, as well as such additional elephant fodder as napier and sweet grass.

The formation of the farm was spurred by news that ethical elephant sanctuary Samui Elephant Haven was struggling to feed its herd of 21 elephants in the wake of a dramatic downturn in tourist numbers to the island due to the global pandemic.

“These magnificent animals need to eat 10 per cent of their body weight in food daily, which is up to 400kg per elephant,” said the resort’s general manager, Ernesto Osuna. “With the sanctuary trying to survive on only 5 per cent of the funding necessary, its herd has been getting only a fraction of its normal food intake.” The sanctuary opened in 2018 as a safe harbor for elephants that had been put to work on tourist treks, as show animals and in the logging industry.

To educate guests about the plight of rescued elephants and encourage them to visit and support the sanctuary, Meliá Koh Samui has unveiled an elephant mascot Coco to provide information about the Haven and as a host for educational activities about the elephants at the resort's kids club 'Kidsdom'.



One of Vietnam’s greenest resorts, Laguna Lang Co, is urging sustainability projects around the nation to take advantage of a new eco grant scheme it has helped to develop. The expansive integrated resort in Central Vietnam, which encompasses award-winning hotels Banyan Tree Lang Co and Angsana Lang Co as well as acclaimed golf course Laguna Golf Lang Co, is encouraging deserving projects around the country to apply for new sustainability grants backed by its parent company, the Banyan Tree Group.

The new “Greater Good Grants”, launched by the Banyan Tree Global Foundation, the CSR arm of the global hospitality group, will provide vital financial backing of up to $10,000 across six areas that align to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “This is a fantastic opportunity for projects around Vietnam to obtain funding that they both require – and deserve,” says Adam Calver, Director of Golf and Destination Marketing at Laguna Lang Co. “In this time where hope and optimism are needed more than ever, we hope to catalyse positive ripple effects and extend our support to more partners seeking to create positive, sustainable change”.  

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