Guilt-Free Travel – Sustainable Accommodation in Southeast Asia, Vol. 1

by Cambodia, Sustainability, Thailand, Vietnam


The Slate – Phuket, Thailand

The Slate puts a great emphasis on sustainability, incorporating it into its very DNA – little wonder from a resort built with natural materials like metal and wood to fit the design scheme of mining. The long term goal? Being able to not only minimise the negative impact on the environment but also positively contribute to the health of the planet.

The first to go were the plastic straws. Caring both about the environment and the guests’ comfort, The Slate team experimented with several alternative materials, such as wood, metal and bamboo, and ultimately chose paper straws as a good alternative. Making them available only upon request, the resort was able to reduce the number of straws consumed annually from 68,500 plastic ones to about 7,000 paper ones.

The Slate has also installed ‘The Reverse Osmosis’ water treatment system, which uses rain water from a local dam. The team fills recyclable glass bottles with clean drinking water thereby saving approximately 280,000 plastic bottles annually. They also conduct site inspections for neighbouring resorts to share and exchange knowledge.

And that’s not all! The Slate also uses environmentally friendly packaging for take-away meals; biodegradable, reusable or recyclable amenities in the guest rooms, such as toothbrushes, combs, laundry bags and more; and only operates tours deemed sustainable from both an environmental and social standpoint. Sustainability also goes behind the scenes with the use of  eco-friendly cleaning supplies and wooden crates instead of large plastic sacks to transport laundry. The freshly pressed clothes are then hung directly in the guest’s closet, instead of in the traditional foil wrapping.

Anjali by Syphon – Siem Reap, Cambodia

In 2019 Anjali by Syphon was awarded as a Luxury Eco/Green Hotel in South East Asia by World Luxury Hotel Awards – a pinnacle of achievement for any luxury hotel. No surprise there – Anjali by Syphon was created with sustainability in mind and has always strived to be as environmentally friendly as possible. 

Starting with the big guns, the hotel is powered by the sun, with solar panels being used to heat the water supply and give energy to part of the property. Add their water saving system and the intelligent A/C to the equation and you can enjoy your bath guilt-free, feeling great about your positive impact on the environment.

When it comes to plastic, Anjali by Syphon is an example to many. Not only does the hotel avoid plastic straws and provides aluminium water bottles, but even the room key cards are made from sustainably sourced bamboo. The whole team is educated on the concept of environmental consciousness and fully supports it, going as far as to give the suppliers plastic-free bags and containers to use for product delivery. 

The hotel also supports small local sustainable NGOs and businesses, and while your guest room has a sophisticated design, there’s more to it than that. The amenities in your bathroom are locally produced and organic, and the amenity trays are made by Cambolac – a Cambodian company giving jobs to young adults with impaired hearing. The baskets are made by Manava, crafted by local Cambodian women who use time-honoured artisan weaving skills. Feels good to know these details, doesn’t it?

Park Hyatt Siem Reap – Cambodia

Park Hyatt Siem Reap takes the concept of an eco-conscious business to a new level with Hyatt’s global corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive. It’s designed to focus on positive local efforts to create a significant global impact.

Some of the Park Hyatt’s on-going sustainability efforts include donating used soap and oil to Naga Earth for recycling; and supporting Refill Not Landfill Asia in their campaign to reduce plastic bottle waste in Cambodia, making the hotel’s Glasshouse into one of the free water refilling stations in Siem Reap. What’s more, the team’s passion to outsourcing environmentally sustainable and ethical food options yielded ASC and MSC certifications.

Taking environmental concerns even further, Park Hyatt gives a lot to the community by hosting charity events and supporting local NGOs, both with financial assistance and campaigns that give more attention to the good cause. It includes planting trees and blood donation, as well as scholarships and student internships for EGBOK, an organisation that trains underprivileged children in the field of hospitality. In fact, 15% of Park Hyatt’s employees come from the internship programmes supported by the hotel.

Even the holidays are celebrated responsibly. For the Khmer New Year the hotel guests were invited to purchase and hang a star on a tree in the name of their chosen charity. Among the organisations supported by Park Hyatt Siem Reap are Women’s Resource Center, an NGO dedicated to promote and uplift women in the community by providing emotional support, guidance, referral services and informal education; and Life and Hope Association, a sewing school in Siem Reap providing women with basic education in dressmaking. Park Hyatt Siem Reap takes social and environmental responsibility as its duty, an example for everyone to look up to.

Bhaya Cruises – Halong Bay, Vietnam

Moving your accommodation from land to water by staying on a cruise ship is certainly a creative way to travel. Luckily for sustainability lovers, Bhaya Cruises is taking conscious actions far beyond its vessels, and is setting a real example in Halong Bay. 

This is proven by the multiple awards received by the company: Bhaya Cruises was the only cruise operator to get the “Silver Swallow Award” in recognition of its efforts relating to ocean cleanup and community development in Halong Bay. The company has also received the Blue Sail eco-label certification along with the recent Blue Swallows Award 2019 (organised by VCCI and UN Development Program).

Bhaya Cruises puts a lot of effort into supporting the environment of Halong Bay and local communities. The company has bought land on Cat Ba island for farming, providing a new source of income to local people who now act as food suppliers for the cruises. Other efforts include the commitment to protecting endangered species of the area – the white-headed Langurs – by collecting funds and raising awareness over the issue, as well as removing thousands of kilos of trash from Halong Bay and placing litter nets at the back of the boats to keep the water clean.

With the Bhaya Green project initiative, the company decided to spice up the decoration by creating a competition for the crew to create the best decor using recycled items, with the goal to inspire both the team and the passengers for a more sustainable outlook. It’s easy to be eco-conscious aboard the cruise: you have access to Refill My Bottle water stations, reusable aluminum and bamboo bottles and paper straws. Amenities are available only upon request thus reducing plastic packaging even more. What about the future commitments? Bhaya Cruise already has a plan in place for going plastic bag-free, setting up solar panels and virtual reality attractions, as well as introducing recycling training, and going paperless by using iPads. 

Impressive, isn’t it? Stay tuned to find out about even more sustainable accommodation in volume 2 of this blog!

Please contact us for more information about the hotels mentioned above.