17 Dec 2013
Anantara Launches New CSR Program ‘Dollars for Deeds’
Immersing guests in the spirit of giving back to some of the world’s most exotic destinations, Anantara Hotels, Resort & Spas has launched the Dollars For Deeds campaign, which invites guests to donate just USD $1 a night during their stay to raise funds for a range of worthy causes.
For over a decade, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas has been committed to creating luxury travel experiences that also benefit nature, people and culture. All Anantara properties participate in eco-friendly and community initiatives, thereby enhancing the social and environmental surroundings of each Anantara retreat.
As an extension of this generous philosophy, Dollars for Deeds will launch in January 2014 with all of Anantara’s Thailand hideaways participating, soon to be joined by worldwide resorts across Asia, the Maldives, Middle East and Africa. Beginning with Thailand, where Anantara was born, the funds raised will be donated to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), as well as the Mai Khao Turtle Foundation, while part of the funds will also be put back into the community as part of the 365 Days of Good Deeds campaign, which includes scholarships for local school children.
The GTAEF was set up in 2006 to rescue Thailand’s street elephants, and has since been diversified to include welfare projects that incorporate broader philanthropic endeavours with unprecedented success. The foundation is overseen by John Roberts, Director of Elephants at Anantara Golden Triangle’s onsite Elephant Camp. Under Roberts’ helm, more than 30 elephants have been rescued from Thailand’s city streets, along with their entire mahout family, who now live in the camp’s traditional mahout village and benefit from ongoing employment, housing, English lessons, medical insurance, schooling for their children, and a silk worm business which provides the wives with 100% of the profits made from the sales of their wares at the resort boutique.
The GTAEF also cooperates with the Thai government and other organisations in 'bigger picture' projects. For instance Anantara Golden Triangle’s resident veterinarian, Cherry Keratimanochaya, lends her expertise to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre Elephant Hospital for two weeks every month – a charitable contribution which is even more valuable, considering that there are only a few elephant vets in the whole of Thailand. To enrich and sustain local culture, local farmers receive a monthly income for the sale of elephant fodder. The camp also lends elephants for local religious and cultural festivals, and offers outreach initiatives to local schools, bringing children into contact with elephants to deepen the understanding and knowledge of Thailand’s elephants in the next generation. In addition the Elephant Camp is becoming a leading research centre in association with several Thai and foreign universities, and as such is involved in numerous groundbreaking scientific research projects, such elephant cognitive behaviour in conjunction with Dr Plotnik from Cambridge University, and the Thai Elephant Therapy Project run by Chiang Mai University to provide elephant assistant therapists for autistic children.
From the lush jungles of northern Thailand to the renowned island of Phuket, the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation raises funds and awareness for the critically endangered giant leatherback turtles which nest on Mai Khao Beach, along Phuket’s serene northwest coast. This project is especially pertinent to guests staying at the luxurious all-pool villa oasis Anantara Phuket Villas, which edges beautiful Mai Khao Beach. Dollars for Deeds funds go towards protecting the sea turtles who breed here from November to February, and whose numbers have been severely depleting over the last 20 years.
Beach patrols at night protect the turtles while nesting, and records are kept of the number of eggs laid. The eggs are taken to the foundation’s hatchery so that when the baby turtles hatch, they are protected from the elements of nature and human exploitation, to be released in a special ceremony during Thailand’s New Year Songkran festival in April. The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation’s activities are supported by local resorts, schools, community residents and organisations, with conservation efforts successfully protecting Mai Khao beach and its reef, as well as going towards the Turtle Museum and ecological education programmes.
By choosing to donate just USD 1 per night, Anantara guests not only enjoy a luxurious stay that is rich in discovery, but leave with wonderful memories of their experiences, knowing that they have made a positive difference to the local environment and community.