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Leading the way in responsible travel.
Tuesday, 23rd May 2006
Source : The Leading Hotels of the World
From helping to protect wildlife - to preserving cultural treasures - to supporting their local communities, Leading Hotels exert a positive impact.

For luxury travelers who have seen much of the world, traveling responsibly has become a major priority.

Traveling responsibly can mean staying at hotels that make concerted efforts to operate in an ecologically sound manner, visiting resorts that sponsor educational programs to support the local community, or choosing a property which helps to foster art and culture.

Just a quick survey of the members of The Leading Hotels of the World demonstrates the many ways in which our members exercise a positive impact on their local communities, and by extension, on the world around us.

Following are just a few examples of how The Leading Hotels of the World – and by extension their guests – are doing their part to improve the world we live in.

Environment and Wildlife Support

Chateau de la Messardière in St. Tropez is the only hotel in France to form an alliance with BirdLife International and its French partner, the "Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux" or LPO (League for the Protection of the Birds).  To support this worthy cause the hotel signed a charter with LPO to obtain the designation of "Refuge LPO".  In doing so, Chateau de la Messardière has set aside its parkland not only for the enjoyment of guests, but also for the protection of this valuable habitat.  As a Refuge LPO, the owners of the hotel must ensure that no chemical pesticides are used – they use ladybugs instead – no hunting is permitted on the grounds, and that feeders, water and nesting boxes are readily available throughout the year.

In addition, BirdLife International will soon be partnering with BirdHouse International and Chateau de la Messardière.  Working with the world's preeminent architects and designers, BirdHouse International will oversee the design and 10 unique birdhouses annually to be displayed in the gardens of Chateau de la Messardière, bird sanctuaries and museums all over the world.

A conservation-based resort, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, UAE, practices environmentally sustainable management of the property itself – with 100% water recycling programs, the use of biodegradable cleaning products – right down to guest amenity soaps and spa products – and the incorporation of energy-saving construction materials to reduce the need for air conditioning.  But perhaps even more importantly, the hotel actively supports, finances and maintains the largest wildlife conservation reserve in the Middle East, and is the driving force in the protection and management of endangered species, threatened habitats and eco-systems.  As a result, its guests can experience the desert environment, its delicate fauna and flora – and be part of an ongoing effort to limit or eliminate the deleterious effects of human interaction with a fragile eco-system.

Coral are among some of the most fragile of sea creatures, yet pollution and fluctuating ocean temperatures threaten their survival.  Beginning in 2001, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort collaborated with a marine biologist to install artificial reefs in the hotel's lagoon, under its over-water bungalows, to help reinvigorate the indigenous coral population.  Its coral nursery called Toa Nui ("big coral" in Tahitian) is now home to 75 reefs and more than 2500 coral colonies.  The mission of this initiative is, not only to preserve the coral population that are in distress, but also to make the guests and local population aware of the need to protect the environment  by taking part in the education and recreational activities within the nursery.

The Dusit Laguna Resort in Phuket, Thailand, takes a leading role each year in addressing the plight of the country's endangered sea turtles.  The annual Sea Turtle Conservation Ceremony takes place at the hotel's beachfront, where, for a nominal cash donation, guests can take part in the Thai tradition of releasing their own baby turtles into the sea.  Other ceremony features include a conservation exhibition, turtle sand sculpting, and batik painting. The hotel partners with the Phuket Marine Biological Center and the Royal Thai Navy in their conservation efforts, which include protection of nesting beaches, eggs and hatchlings, as well as the support of educational programs and legislative initiatives.

Carlisle Bay, Antigua, West Indies is a registered Affiliate Member of the internationally recognized Green Globe 21 environmental program for sustainable travel and tourism, having adopted measures such as:

  • Recycling gray water for irrigation of the gardens
  • Using natural products in spa treatments
  • Using environmentally friendly cleaning agents throughout operations
  • Donating used equipment / supplies to communities in need
The hotel's Green Team carries out throughout operations to come up with ways to keep the staff motivated and aware of the program. Several new measures are being implementing now, including:

  • Recycling of plastic and aluminum cans, taking advantage the Antigua's first newly opened recycling facility
  • Separating kitchen waste for composting and animal feed, supplied to local farmers
  • Increasing use of energy-efficient lighting on the property
Community, Charity and Culture 

The world around us starts at our front doors, and a number of our hotels take on the challenge of making it a better place by providing educational opportunities for local residents, supporting nearby charities, or preserving cultural icons and institutions.

In addition to her many contributions to her city as International Chairman of Save Venice,  Francesca Bartolotto Possati, CEO and owner of Bauer Hotel and Bauer Il Palazzo is committed to giving even more back to her community than just her efforts to restore and preserve historic buildings and monuments.  Two years ago Ms. Bartolotto Possati took an interest in the Rio Tera Pensieri cooperative program to create a new cosmetic laboratory in the botanical gardens of Giudecca Island.  The gardens are located near the Redentore Church, which now houses the female population of the local jail.  The cosmetics produced by the laboratory are created by the inmates under the skilled supervision of a licensed chemist.  This program has enabled Ms. Bortolotto Possati to fulfill a long-held dream to provide her guests with fine handmade cosmetic products created right in Venice, and has the added benefit of supporting a rehabilitation program that teaches a trade skill to those who might otherwise never have such an opportunity.

Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, Russia, issues VIP cards to its special clients, which entitle them to a variety of benefits when using the hotel's services.  A percentage of the revenues from the purchases using the VIP cards goes to a fund which helps support hospitals for orphans.  The hotel will also be partnering with the Renaissance Pushkin International Cultural Centre, the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and the St. Petersburg Committee on Culture, to stage a charity ball to raise funding for children's institutions in Tsarskoe Selo and St. Petersburg, as well as to hold a children's ball for the orphans in Children's Home No. 29 in Tsarskoe Selo.  And looking to the future, the hotel is launching a new educational program for orphans, who later on will need to enter the workforce, and this year is recruiting the first participants for this initiative.  

The King David Hotel in Jerusalem is an active participant in the statewide organization Elem" – AYD – Assistance, which supports families in hardship.  The hotel provides employment to youngsters between 16 and 18 years of age who dropped out of school and are victims of difficult socio-economic situation at home. Through this program, not only do the young people earn a salary to support their families, but they are also protected from the potentially negative influence of the street.   In addition, the hotel also donates meals and provisions on a daily basis to the poor, as well as children sick with cancer, via various charity associations.  These efforts complement the hotel's commitment to the environment through their ongoing glass and paper recycling.

CuisinArt Resort & Spa on Anguilla has partnered with Johnson & Wales University to sponsor extensive training for their Anguillian employees who are selected to attend the university's hospitality and culinary programs in Rhode Island and on other North American campuses. The annual in-depth hands-on courses provide accredited training, and are fully funded by the resort. In addition, the hotel is currently working with the Anguillian government and Johnson & Wales to establish a core curriculum hospitality program at the high school level in Anguilla. This professional program will train local educators to teach and guide students who choose a career in the hospitality industry.

Our colleagues at The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, take their responsibilities to the local community very seriously.  Management and staff actively support a number of local organizations, including:

  • The Cradle of Liberty Council – Boy Scouts of America, serving over 65,000 scouts 
  • Philadelphia Art Alliance – offering financial support, and by devoting 1,000 square feet of space to the PAA acting as a satellite art gallery, exhibiting 3 to 5 shows a year.
  • Hero Scholarship Fund –for children of firemen and policemen who have died in the line of duty.
And various educational institutions:

  • Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tourist and Hospitality School at Temple, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  
  • Widener University Hotel School, Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
  • Academy of Vocal Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -the only tuition-free institution dedicated exclusively to the study of voice. 
Guest rooms at the hotel are stocked with CDs from The Academy of Vocal Arts, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and The Curtis Institute of Music, and the hotel encourages guests to take the CDs, helping to promote culture in the city.  

And under the heading "Who Knew?" – We add Fairmont Chateau Whistler in British Columbia, Canada.  This year, guests checking in are being welcomed by agents using wind-powered front desk check-in computers.  Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, the hotel's parent, recently bought Eco-Logo certified wind power for each of its 249 check in computers across North America for one year. The sale is equivalent to 116 megawatt hours of wind power and equates to a greenhouse gas reduction of almost 100 tons.  Every bit of effort helps.

These are just a few examples of how the members of The Leading Hotels of the World take their community leadership roles seriously, in devising new ways to protect, preserve and improve the world around us.
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