|Benjamin Kreuz, general manager of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Resort. Photo: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Resort |
A breakdown of all the plastics used in our hotels worldwide identified that 80 per cent came from only 18 categories such as plastic cups, straws, or little napkin wraps. Today we are proud to be 95 per cent free of the 18 most unwanted items and with almost all single-use plastics being phased out of resort operations.
Sustainability is one of the most important pillars of our business. As a whole group, we are following detailed and ambitious Sustainability Operation Guidelines, ensuring that we are looking at the immediate area where our hotels are based and making contributions to the local society around us. One of our core values is to be locally sensitive whilst displaying global sensibility.
Highlights of our sustainable operations are our drive for renewable energy and our plastic-free campaign. Solar energy provides roughly thirty per cent of the total consumption in our resort through 800 solar panels and 5 solar hot water systems.
One of the great initiatives we have is sponsoring a Vietnamese NGO called Green Viet, and together, we are working on the conservation of black-shanked douc langurs, which are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book. Today langurs are only found in Southern Vietnam and Eastern Cambodia.
The Hon Heo mountain area behind the resort is one of their most prevalent habitats, where langurs visit the water reservoir and resort during the dry season. We now have 153 langur individuals living with us, split up into 16 families, and our guests can participate in hikes into the jungle to observe and learn about them.
|Black-shanked douc langurs in Ninh Van Bay |
We also completed biodiversity research to identify the flora and fauna around the resort and we are going to release a book to share the information with our guests. One great result of the study was that we found a new plant that is now officially registered as a new species. This plant only grows in Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. It is called the Six Senses Tumeric and blossoms in August and September.
|New species called Six Senses Turmeric was found at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in April 2022 |
Another programme is called Water for All. Here all our resorts set out to provide water fountains for schools or villages in remote areas where a lack of access to clean drinking water is still a big challenge. We provide them with water fountains that have an integrated filter system.
The biggest concern when you travel around Vietnam is that you see a lot of people drinking water from plastic bottles. By providing reusable bottles, we are helping people to step away from this. In 2022, we successfully provided 2504 students and teachers with drinking water and reusable flasks.
Personally, I think one of the greatest challenges we face is that to drive change, people need to be willing to change. Creating awareness is the most important first step. We cooperate with primary schools to sow the seed of sustainability in young children and reaffirm the message through continued activities.
For example, our Plogging event was a great success and we collected over 60kg of garbage with 55 students involved. Other examples of our community initiatives include sustainability talks for 99 local students and support scholarships for 10 underprivileged students.
|Reusable flasks were distributed by the Water for All project |
How do we commit and follow through? In each property, there is a Sustainability Fund which is generated from 0.5 per cent of the total revenue and is used to support the local community and preserve the surrounding nature.
To implement and oversee the various sustainability programs at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, we have the Director of Sustainability, Emmy Nguyen Thi Thuy. She is part of the Executive Management Committee. Sustainability is considered by the most senior leaders of the resort and is at the front of our minds when taking crucial decisions for the future. We constantly drive ourselves, trying to identify new approaches to become even more sustainable and socially responsible.
Now, do the guests change their behaviour? I think absolutely yes, they do. To cater for this need, we have programmes called Climate Warriors, Reconnect with Nature, Reconnect with Others, and Reconnect with the Family that include a wide range of activities that guests can choose to accomplish different goals.
There is an Earth Lab located in every Six Senses property around the world where guests will learn about sustainability through activities such as DIY workshops, educational tours and lessons, or fun and quirky activities such as collecting your own eggs from the chicken villa for breakfast.
Furthermore, I believe that sustainable tourism will become even more important. Guests are choosing destinations where they know there are programmes like ours in place and where they know that hoteliers operate with a high consciousness for the local surroundings and nature.
Throughout the pandemic, there have definitely been changes in the mindsets of all of our stakeholders.
Firstly, for our hosts – our employees. We are proud of their commitment to and focus on being sustainable. It is great to say that within the team, people come up with new ideas to help us to achieve our goals. Educating them is of utmost importance, creating awareness to drive the change. They will go home, and when they share their knowledge with their families, that is where the change begins.
You can see that COVID-19 changed my employees and made them realise that mental health and wellness are very important. We have a worldwide programme at Six Senses called Mission Wellness dedicated to them. We have over 58 different activities to make sure that our employees are supported in different ways, be it financially, educationally, or from a wellness point of view.
As an example, we offer yoga and swimming classes, along with jogging and hiking tours, to all our hosts. We wish for them to reconnect with themselves, finding the right balance between health, privacy, and work.
Other very crucial stakeholders are of course our investors. With their funding and support, we can achieve many sustainability goals. It is not only the finance but also the joint drive to create new ways of being sustainable by exploring ideas together.
I have seen Vietnam as an absolutely incredible country. One of the biggest concerns I have is the development of housing and new hotels being built. If you look at what has been built in Nha Trang over the last few years, some of the buildings are destroying the environment. For the future of Vietnam, I hope to see environmentally conscious development – in particular for real estate projects
Vietnam has wonderful products, such as vegetables and the famous coffee from Da Lat. I want the local products of Vietnam to be used more in the tourism industry.
And last but not least, I think the travel infrastructure can be made a bit easier. Bus and train connections between cities are challenging, especially for tourists. If you want to travel sustainably in the country, then a good train connection is of course much better than taking a short flight.
| ||Impressive tourism results for New Year weekend |
Vietnamese tourism recorded around three million visitors with $417 million revenue over New Year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).