In the spirit of innovation and being good citizens of our world, hotels in Asia share how they are making a difference.
01) Saving sea turtles
Song Saa Private Island, in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago, operates the Song Saa Foundation, which runs a variety of community and environmental projects, including establishing coral nurseries and the country’s first marine reserve. It recently became a coastal marine NGO, carrying out projects to save sea turtles, executing medical missions, launching educational programmes and offering support to organic farmers.
02) Solar power for all seasons
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru has one of Maldives’ largest resort-based solar installations. With 3,105 panels, the project can save between about 300,000 litres of diesel, or 650 to 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equal to powering 103 rooms, villas and suites for 32 days or charging an electric golf car more than 82,000 times.
03) Centara trims trans fat
Centara Hotels & Resorts has eliminated trans fat in its F&B, as it seeks to comply with Thailand’s new Ministry of Public Health guidelines while placing an emphasis on customers’ health and wellness. Within three months of implementing the initiative, it served some three to four million meals of trans-fat free food to over 1.5 million guests.
04) Robots at your service
In 2017, Hong Kong’s Hotel Icon debuted two robotic butlers – Jeeves as a server at its poolside bar and an Intellibot vacuum robot to assist the housekeeping team. The robots were also able to collect data on guest behaviours and preferences.
05) More lifestyle buzz for Harris
Tauzia Hotel Management has transformed its flagship Harris brand with a greater focus on technology and lifestyle components. Some changes include a new lobby concept incorporating co-living, co-working, grab-and-go, and boutique spaces to enable guests to connect, shop and dine at the same time.
06) Shangri-La hooks Klook
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ partnership with Klook brings local tours and activities to sharper focus. With the Klook Concierge, guests can book Klook experiences via a tablet at the hotel concierge.
07) Sleek designer uniforms
Acclaimed Thai fashion designer Polpat Asavaprapha is the creative force for So Sofitel Hua Hin’s artwork, emblem and uniforms. For the 20-piece uniform collection, the design guru melded the brand’s French heritage with Thai characteristics to give a touch of multiculturalism and contemporary flair.
08) Manga meets hotel
In Tokyo’s Jimbocho district, the Manga Art Hotel is a showcase of one of Japan’s most famous soft-power exports. There are more than 5,000 manga titles throughout the property that guests can borrow and return. The ultra-modern hotel has 35 one-person capsules – 16 for women and 19 for men – across two floors, and spacious communal areas.
09) Taking lead on green power
The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa has in place some 300 green practices to reduce its carbon footprint. It is the only hotel in Langkawi with a 100 per cent all-natural filtration system that utilises aquatic plants to treat waste water. The treated water is then used to water the tropical gardens within the property. Solar energy is also used to heat water.
10) Be yourself at work
Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur allows staff to ‘be themselves’, encouraging them to show their creativity in their dressing and to be comfortable with who they are. Team members do not wear name tags, but carry business cards to greet and meet guests.
11) Co-working hospitality
The end-2017 launch of the Kafnu co-working space within Hong Kong’s five-star Kerry Hotel mirrors the rise of Asia’s new crop of hotels integrating co-living, hospitality and private club concepts. Bringing together local and international communities from entrepreneurs to global nomads, Kafnu is a popular space for symposiums, teambuilding, office outposts and social gatherings.
12) Oakwood’s display suite
At its Singapore corporate office, serviced apartment provider Oakwood Worldwide has launched The Oakwood Showroom, a suite mock-up stocked with the latest gadgets, furnishings and homeware. This will enable property owners to view, test and purchase in-room amenities for their suites, and push consistent standards across Oakwood properties.
13) Fighting against illegal logging
Cardamom Tented Camp aims to conserve Cambodia’s dense Koh Kong jungle which has been pillaged by illegal loggers and poachers, with profits ploughed back into conservation. Guests can trek to Preak Tachan Patrol Station with rangers and escort them on their forest patrols, help set up camera traps, and carry out other conservation work.
14) Visionary Naumi
Naumi Hotel Singapore has launched Project #210 during Singapore Design Week in 2019 for interior design students to bring visionary hotel rooms to life. Every quarter, students are selected to draw up a brand-new room concept. The winning design is used for a pop-up room, joining the hotel’s current inventory of four designer-themed rooms.
15) Hack for Hyatt
To stay ahead of cybersecurity challenges, Hyatt Hotels Corporation is inviting “ethical hackers” to test its websites and mobile apps for potential vulnerabilities. The hotel company has teamed up with HackerOne to launch a public bug bounty programme for security researchers to identify possible flaws in data security in exchange for cash rewards.
16) Fondness for art
Taking inspiration from art, Indonesia-based Artotel properties feature original works of art by emerging local artists. Each hotel is customised based on its location and environment, local lifestyles and owner’s preferences. The hotels also provide an Art Space for artists to display their works and hold painting classes.
17) Art at MGM’s heart
With art being at the heart of the brand, MGM has already hosted 25 exhibitions and welcomed about 300,000 visitors. Following the introduction of MGM Art Space, MGM has redefined public art by presenting the MGM Cotai Art Collection with over 300 works integrated with the property’s public spaces. The MGM Theater uses revolutionary technology to present unique multisensory experiences.
18) Ethically sourced seafood
The Erawan Tea Room at Grand Hyatt Erawan has linked arms with Earth Net Foundation to procure certified organic seafood from across Thailand. The Earth Net Foundation works directly with small-scale fisheries in six coastal fishing communities, offering a sustainable source of livelihood for those using minimally invasive methods to fish.
19) Tapping Chinese brains
Hilton has dived into the mindset of Chinese consumers to woo them for its Canopy by Hilton brand. To localise the brand experience, Hilton leveraged neuroscience to track consumers’ brain activity in response to key propositions. Through EEG sensors to capture brain activity and the tracking of eye movements, the brand identified Chinese consumers’ preference for locally-made bamboo bicycles, and the showcase of local artists’ work throughout the hotel.
20) Cultural heritage discovered
Kowloon Shangri-La has designed a walking tour that delves into the Tsim Sha Tsui’s history and tidbits. Not only did this project help uncover Tsim Sha Tsui’s cultural heritage, it also enabled staff to step out to work with people from different walks of life within the neighbourhood.
21) Made for millennials
Kampi Hotels, owned by Santika Indonesia Hotels & Resorts, was born in 2018 to meet the new demands of millennial travellers. Employees (known as “crafters”) kit up exceptional experiences in touring and dining, in addition to lessons on local art and craft.
22) Jobs for physically challenged
The physically challenged make up about 12 per cent of Lemon Tree Hotels & Resorts’ workforce. From hearing and speech impaired kitchen stewards to wheelchair users in the F&B department, the group employs physically challenged staff across the spectrum. It will also continue to employ “opportunity-deprived” Indians in its future openings.
23) Face up to technology
Park Hotel Group’s Grand Park City Hall uses facial recognition technology for check-in. The mobile app allows guests to skip queues at the front desk, reducing the check-in process to one minute. App users can also connect to the concierge via messenger, pre-select their room, access rooms with secure mobile key, and control in-room settings.
24) Food surplus, zero waste
Sunway Group launched the #zerofoodwastage initiative with Kechara Soup Kitchen to give surplus food from its hotels’ buffet dinners to feed the homeless and urban poor in Malaysia. The ongoing project served 17,657 individuals in 2018.
25) Building sustainable efforts
Peninsula Hotels has adopted BREEAM – the world’s leading sustainability assessment method – in its hotel projects. For the renovation of The Peninsula Beijing, it used paints, adhesives, fabrics and carpets with low VOCs; wall coverings with recycled materials; metal-free leather using water-based and water-soluble finishing, plus energy efficient fan-coil units and LED lighting.
26) Homemade for good
Sri Lanka’s Jetwing chain of hotels breathes sustainability in all its operations. The group only uses glass bottles made of 30 per cent recycled glass; fresh fruits and vegetables from its own gardens and produce from local farmers. On-site beekeeping facilities are sources of honey, while milk is purchased from local farmers to produce curd.
27) Beyond certification
The Athenee Hotel in Bangkok, the first hotel in the world to achieve ISO 20121: Events Sustainability Management Systems in 2015, has successfully retained the accreditation for planning and delivering sustainable meetings and events. Melding sustainability management with luxury is a key focus at this property, which boasts initiatives such as
reducing food waste by half, redistributing unserved food to communities in need and procuring organic rice from Thai farmers directly.
28) Heritage honoured
In transforming an old office tower into the 336-room The Murray, Hong Kong, the structural integrity of the heritage building was kept. The old roof with water tanks and air-conditioning is now a glass-walled restaurant and bar, and the former entryway and car park ramp was turned into an event space called The Arches.
29) On lookout for trafficking
Marriott International has trained 500,000 employees to spot signs of human trafficking in its hotels and respond accordingly. It has made the human trafficking awareness training programme, mandatory for its on-property staff. The instruction is also customised by role.
30) From farm to table
W Kuala Lumpur champions a farm-to-table food movement, partnering local suppliers and artisans and aims to reduce the carbon footprint. The hotel has forgone wasteful, mass produced buffet spreads in favour of specially curated à la carte menus.
31) Jobs for hearing-impaired
In collaboration with the Angeles City Deaf Association and Department of Tourism Region III, Midori Clark Hotel and Casino supports the skills training of hearing-impaired students at Systems Plus College, giving them on-the-job training for housekeeping, stewarding and gardening. The ones who pass performance evaluation are then hired as regular employees.
32) Colombo gets tourism boost
Cinnamon Life, a 418,063m2 integrated mixed-use development in Colombo developed by the John Keells Group, will be home to a 800-key hotel, shopping mall, office space and apartments when it completes. Meanwhile, the company continues to build on its vision to elevate Colombo into a regional hub by bringing in world-class entertainment acts into the country, from smash hit musical Mama Mia! to Sound of Music, and making tourism to Sri Lanka more alluring.
33) Ephemeral hospitality
Accor has been working with start-ups to break traditional accommodation models. Flying Nest, born from the aim of bringing hospitality closer to customers, is a pop-up mobile and premium accommodation. These modular hotel rooms are built from shipping containers and provide shower and ensuite facilities with compact bedrooms and communal living areas. The concept is now entering the commercialisation stage in the B2B market.
34) Zero impact goal
Pan Pacific Hotels Group is focused on building and operating sustainable hotels. Pan Pacific Orchard, due for completion in 2021, will have plants incorporated into its fabric and have eco features such as a rainwater harvesting system, a recyclable water system, and a compactor which turns food waste into compost. Since the hotel’s gardens will be larger than the plot on which the hotel stands, it will have zero impact on the environment.
35) Alibaba’s AI ambitions
Built by Alibaba’s online travel platform Fliggy and other Alibaba Group business units, the 290-room Flyzoo Hotel in Hangzhou represents the Chinese tech giant’s ambitions to marry hospitality with technology. Flyzoo features a range of AI-powered services to create a seamless guest experience, including facial recognition for room and elevator access; and using voice technology to control in-room temperature, lights and curtains. Fliggy is also working with Marriott International to trial facial recognition check-in technology at two Marriott properties in Sanya and Hangzhou.
36) Sustainable makes sense
Six Senses Uluwatu Bali practises a sustainable dining concept, where all food and landscaping waste is composted on-site and turned into natural fertiliser for the property’s organic garden. The hotel produces 200kg of compost every two months. Kitchen oil is sold to the Lengis Hijau Foundation to create biodiesel for its vehicles, whereas coffee capsules from guestrooms and cleaning products are collected by the supplier after use to reduce waste.
37) Giving back to the community
Myanmar-based integrated tourism company Memories Group has implemented various projects in remote areas across the country. Not only does it operate a sailing clinic offering medical care around the Mergui Archipelago, the company has also launched Moken Kids, an initiative to preserve and understand the Moken (sea gypsies) culture by handing out waterproof cameras to Moken children with the aim of publishing a coffee table book that will see proceeds going back to the community.
38) ‘Flexi’ apartment concept
Onyx Hospitality Group has adopted smart engineering, playful design and a witty mindset as it rolls out a new serviced apartment and co-living concept, Shama Hub, targeting travellers from the ‘informal generation’. Designed to offer flexibility for different work, play, dine and sleep needs, the Shama Hub studio apartment sleeps up to four, incorporating a modular mini-kitchen with fridge, microwave and sink; king-sized bed and a foldaway wall with two additional beds in select units.
39) Themed suites
Dorsett Hotel Wanchai rolled out themed suites to meet the growing interest among guests in seeking out more personalised experiences. So far, there are 10 theme suites: the Ocean Suite with marine elements; Sony 4K 3D Experience Suite for Sony’s latest gadgets; the Jockey Suite with an unobstructed race course view and perks like free ticket to racing night, a drink coupon and a glass of beer.
40) Melding heritage and luxury
Malaysia-based YTL Hotels has focused on the restoration of unique buildings with historical value, minimising the impact on the environment and enhancing the guest experience. Hotels that follow this ethos include The Majestic Malacca and the Threadneedles in London.
41) Putting hospitality into wellness
Its strategic location linking to neighbouring medical facilities allows One Farrer Hotel to house Singapore’s first medically enabled accommodation, The Farrer Suites. The suites are completely self-contained and accessible through a private lift system, which provides direct connectivity to all areas of Farrer Park Hospital, as well as to the Farrer Park Medical Centre. Full hotel services and amenities are also provided to The Farrer Suite, including an extensive menu of chef cooked-to-order nutritious meals available around the clock.
42) Fundraiser for elephants
Formerly a sponsor of the discontinued King’s Cup Elephant Polo in Thailand, Anantara Hotels and Resorts this year turned to fundraisers in a charity-driven celebration of the country’s national animal. The first part of the fundraiser saw Anantara Golden Triangle and the neighbouring Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation Camp host a series of elephant-centred events, followed by a dragonboat race down the Chao Phraya, alongside sporting and cultural events by the river, for the second segment.
43) Plugging into greener rides
Millennium Hilton Bangkok is encouraging hotel guests to use BYD electric limousines to reduce 15,000kg of carbon in 2019. The move towards environmentally-friendly transport “hopefully will reach other companies and the government soon as well”, said general manager, Heidi Kleine-Moeller.
44) A repository of local art
Raffles Makati has commissioned local artists to produce over 1,600 original artworks depicting Philippine scenes. The Raffles’ Art Concierge tour takes guests on a guided tour of these paintings and sculptures, explaining their background and the stories of local culture and history they weave.
45) Dusit on demand
With Dusit Thani Bangkok’s operations now ceased for a four-year redevelopment, Dusit International did not let go of the 200 staff displaced from the closure of its flagship property. Instead, the group started a new division, Dusit on Demand, to keep these staff meaningfully employed for housekeeping and banqueting requests from external agencies.