Last year, 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded by UNWTO, and that number is expected to grow in 2020. This increase raises a greater attention to minimizing carbon footprints and supporting the local community. Fortunately, today’s travelers desire more authentic, meaningful vacation experiences. In fact, one in four travelers intends to volunteer during their next trip. Hotels across the globe are catering to the surging trend of “voluntourism” by employing creative initiatives that cater to a variety of charitable passion points, whether it be educational outreach or environmental preservation. Below are hotels across the globe with programs for guests interested in giving back during their visit.
Passion Point: Educational Outreach and Community Advocacy
Study Hotels (Multiple locations: Yale; University City, PA)
As Study Hotels are deeply integrated into the campuses of some of the most esteemed universities in the U.S., the brand is celebrating National Reading Month through a series of philanthropic, literacy-focused programs. Throughout March, The Study at Yale and The Study at University City are encouraging guests to donate new or gently used children’s books upon check-in or purchase a book from an on-site “Gift of Reading” display to donate to local youth literacy charities.
Hyatt Ziva & Zilara Rose Hall (Montego Bay, Jamaica)
Teaming up with a local public school 45 minutes from the resort, visitors of the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva & Zilara Rose Hall can arrange to volunteer in the Granville 404 Project along with staff at the Granville All/Age School to help improve upon the building’s condition and meet with the local children of St. James. Striking up a long-term partnership with the school of 400+ Jamaican children, Playa Hotels & Resorts created this project in hopes to impact the lives of locals and give guests the chance to do good during their time on-island.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar (Baha Mar, Bahamas)
Those staying at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar can participate in Baha Mar’s “Pack with Love” program, which encourages vacationers to bring an item to share with those affected by Hurricane Dorian. Visitors are able to bring donations to shelters directly or simply drop items off at the resort. To date, Baha Mar has collected almost 6,000 items to help support those affected by Dorian, including baby items, brand new clothing, hygienic and medical supplies as well as toys and books.
Jicaro Island Lodge (Jicaro, Nicaragua)
Jicaro Island Lodge in Nicaragua, part of the Cayuga Collection of sustainable luxury resorts, has a program that uses solar panels to provide energy and clean water to a local school. The project is exclusively funded through the generous donations of Jicaro’s guests.
French Quarter Inn (Charleston, South Carolina)
The charming boutique hotel French Quarter Inn recently introduced a “take a book, leave a book” library in the lobby, featuring a curated selection of modern-day books written by local authors that highlight life in the Lowcountry. As guests sit around the lobby fireplace and enjoy complimentary wine and cheese, they can connect with fellow travelers while learning more about the destination.
AKA White House
This past December, AKA White House in Washington DC donated two floors worth of furniture to the international nonprofit organization, Habitat for Humanity, to help families in need of improved housing and to support building better lives.
Passion Point: Environmental Preservation
Hilton La Romana (La Romana, Dominican Republic)
Hilton La Romana periodically chooses a stand-out employee who is struggling to provide for their families to receive a brand-new home, built from the ground up in a safe neighborhood near the property. In addition to giving back to employees, the resort also organizes regular beach clean-ups and positions donation boxes around the property for visitors to leave behind clothes and toys for the DR’s less fortunate.
The Moorings Village (Islamorada, Florida)
Located on a former coconut plantation, The Moorings Village in Islamorada, FL (a quick drive from Miami) lost a significant number of coconut trees during Hurricane Irma and is still rebuilding the lush beachside gardens. Guests interested in giving back and helping rebuild the plantation can pick out a spot for greenery and plant them in the ground, and can also choose a fallen coconut, place it in a bucket and help The Moorings team replant them to fill the space left by an uprooted tree.
As host to more than 5.5 million guests each year, Aqua-Aston Hospitality recognized its unique position to create a platform for positive change when rolling out #ForOurReef, a public awareness campaign to educate guests and the public on reef-safe sunscreen alternatives, and #ShareTheAloha, a pay-it-forward campaign encouraging guests to say “no” to single-use plastics and choose reef-safe sunscreen (and be kind to one another) to make Hawaii a better place. Guests traveling with Aqua-Aston are encouraged to give back by considering sustainability during their stay. Eco-conscious amenities available through A-List (Aqua-Aston’s loyalty program) include reusable water bottles, tote bags, stainless steel straws, and reef-safe sunscreen samples.
AKA, the leader in luxury hotel residences, encourages its residents to “give back” and support the environment through its long-standing partnership with Clean the World, the leader in global sustainability, through which the brand helped recycle and redistribute over 54,000,000 million bars of soap around the world in Q4 of 2019. In addition to long-standing partnerships with the brand, AKA’s 12 properties collaborate with national and local organizations to give back.
Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village (Cape Coral, Florida)
While exploring Cape Coral’s 400 miles of navigable canals and waterways, help preserve Southwest Florida’s marine life ecosystem with Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village by participating in canal cleanups via kayaks – the resort will outfit kayaks with cleanup equipment.
The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Help save Hawaii’s coral reefs by using The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club‘s complimentary reef-safe sunscreen available via dispensers before heading to the beach. The hotel also makes it easy to say “no” to single-use plastics with hydration stations to refill reusable water bottles and offers complimentary canvas tote bags to borrow while shopping.
The Spectator Hotel
Guests at The Spectator Hotel in Charleston will sleep well knowing their half-eaten food items, such as fruit and pastries, won’t go to waste. Through the hotel’s new Food Waste Diversion Program, half-eaten food items are put into a food digester and turned into reusable water that goes back in the sewer system. Since August 2018, the hotel has diverted over 26,000 pounds of food waste from landfill while creating 2,200 gallons of water (equivalent to planting 200+ trees!).
Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda
Those staying at the new eco-chic, all-inclusive Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda will have a hands-on opportunity to learn about planting, recycling and composting at the on-site “community” garden, which uses local ingredients and educates guests on how they can help secure a better future for the planet. Guests can also give back by utilizing the Green Globe certified hotel’s reusable water bottles and hydration stations, rather than single-use plastic water bottles.
Passion Point: Animal Protection
Farm Sanctuary (Watkins Glen, New York)
Doubling as a farm-stay property and an oasis for over 800 rescued farm animals in the Finger Lakes region of central New York, Farm Sanctuary is the perfect place for animal-loving voluntarists to give back while enjoying the peace and beauty of the region. Offering onsite cabins and tiny houses available for booking, guests of the Farm Sanctuary can participate along with the staff in daily chores to help care for hundreds of rescued cows, pigs, turkeys and others who enjoy getting love from visitors. The Sanctuary also offers an onsite Visitor Center where they sell a variety cruelty-free items.
Panama Jack Cancun (Cancun, Mexico)
In anticipation of the turtle hatching season, Panama Jack Resorts Cancun forms a “Turtle Protection Committee” to ensure that the beaches are in excellent condition for the nests. This committee leads activities including beach cleanups (which guests can to participate in!), and ecology courses for employees, to ensure that team members are able to properly handle the eggs. Beginning in May (the start of hatching season), the committee begins building nests at the resort’s on-site turtle farm, and taking guests on “field trips” to learn and observe first-hand. Once hatching begins, the property alerts guests of the time and location so they can watch the hatchings arrive and make their way to the ocean for the first time
Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica
Responsible wildlife adventures shape the guest experience at Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica, managed by Aqua-Aston Hospitality. Travelers can give back to local environmental researchers while participating in eco-tours and adventures. For example, the sea-turtle rescue tour invites guests on a full-day research trip to see turtles in their natural habitat. Participants help the “Osa in the Water” project organized by LAST, an international, independent, nonprofit organization that supports local sea turtle conservation. Swim, hold and check the health of turtles all while collecting data for researchers.