FOR THE PEOPLE
Sustainability is usually synonymous with environmental impact, but it’s far broader than that. How are hotels working to sustain local communities?
From a haven in the cradle of Incan civilisation to a lodge on land owned and protected by First Nations people in Canada, Tatler explores properties that are making a meaningful impact on local communities, ensuring bright futures rooted in rich pasts.
CANADA KLAHOOSE WILDERNESS RESORT, BRITISH COLUMBIA
If you love and respect something, you’ll protect it. That’s the attitude that Canada’s Klahoose First Nation hopes to stimulate by inviting visitors to its small slice of paradise at Klahoose Wilderness Resort, which the Nation bought in 2020 and reopened in 2021. Today, it stands as a symbol of social, environmental and economic reconciliation, providing employment and healing to indigenous people.
Accessible only by boat or an hour’s seaplane ride north of Vancouver, the seven-room resort sits between the Salish Sea and a coastal forest of soaring cedar and fir trees. Here, you can experience life—and the natural world—through the lens of Canada’s indigenous people; every stay includes a guided boat tour where guests will see orcas, humpback whales, dolphins and sea lions. On-land experiences include grizzly bear viewing, guided nature tours and storytelling by First Nation elders.
Unlike the other properties in this article, Klahoose Resort isn’t linked to an organisation. But as a First Nationowned resort, Klahoose resort offers employment opportunities that are aligned with the traditions and values of the Klahoose First Nation people—from song and storytelling to crafts and conservation work—preserving it for generations to come.
PERU TITILAKA, LAKE TITICACA
Hotel Titilaka is something of a legend: known as the most exclusive hotel in the region, the Relais & Châteaux property sits on a surreal location in the Andes, right on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the birthplace of Incan civilisation. At an altitude of 3,800 metres, the lake and its environs straddle Peru and Bolivia and are home to some of the oldest communities in South America—perhaps even the world.
Aware of this unique privilege, Titilaka makes a point of being a good neighbour to these peoples, namely the Quechua, Uru and Aymara. Ninety per cent of the hotel staff are employed locally, and the majority of dishes served use ingredients bought from local markets and grown around
Lake Titicaca’s unique microclimate: think colourful varieties of native potatoes, corn, quinoa—its quinoa pancakes are a breakfast favourite—and trout fished from the lake.
Titilaka also has a partnership with the non-profit organisation Kusimayo—“happy river” in Quechua—which works to improve the living conditions of families affected by poverty and malnutrition in the southern highlands of Peru. As well as improving education and healthcare, Kusimayo works with local communities to reinforce values—regarding women, natural resources and indigenous self-worth— while helping them to grow and progress.
To support the organisation, Titilaka pledges a per guest donation.
CAMBODIA AMANSARA, SIEM REAP
A visit to Siem Reap isn’t just a holiday but a humbling lesson in history and resilience. Despite its painful and complicated past, today it is a proud and vibrant city that holds fast to Cambodian traditions. Open for over 20 years, Amansara has played a pivotal role in introducing visitors to these traditions—it even has an in-house archaeologist for guests looking to deepen their understanding of Cambodian history, particularly around Angkor Wat, which is just five kilometres away.
Back on hotel grounds, Amansara has committed a large garden to the agroecological work of Camborea, a local NGO that helps the country’s most underprivileged citizens. Villagers are employed through the partnership and awareness is raised around the need to improve seed and soil health, and the importance of food self-sufficiency and permaculture.
Disability discrimination is rife in Cambodia; according to a statement from the hotel, “In a country with a prevailing reincarnation belief system, a misconception can be that being born with significant impairments represents sins committed in a previous life.” Amansara works to counter this, offering equal opportunities to members of the community with disabilities who might otherwise struggle to find employment.
INDONESIA NIHI SUMBA, SUMBA
Sumba is the ace up Indonesia’s sleeve. This largely undeveloped
island—where wild horses dart across white sand beaches and remote tribes continue to live as their ancestors did—is just a cheeky 30-minute flight from Bali.
Nihi Sumba’s original founders established the Sumba Foundation to preserve the island’s unique culture, while supporting village-based projects that impact health, education, clean water and income generation. Guests are encouraged to tour the foundation’s facilities or go a step further and get involved in community projects during their stay, to get a first-hand glimpse of life on the island and why Nihi Sumba works so hard to protect it.
Through donations from the hotel and its guests, the foundation has spent millions of dollars on locally sourced products used to build and supply the resort, helped more than 45,000 Sumbese gain access to clean water, and helped to reduce malaria infections by up to 93 per cent, not to mention creating thousands of jobs on the island.