Lots of luxury hotels give back to their local communities these days, and none more so than Banyan Tree Samui. The Thai resort has been awarded a “Gold Certification” by EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific watchdog for the hospitality industry, making it the first and only hotel in Thailand to be recognized for its environmental policies at such a level.
Among the Koh Samui resort’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs are tree-planting, a plastics-free initiative, wastewater recycling, and a coral regeneration project, whereby broken corals are revived and re-attached to the reefs that curl around the resort.
Upon its opening in 2010, Banyan Tree Samui introduced a “Seedlings Mentorship” project available to some of the less privileged children on the island, which was traditionally a coconut farming and fishing community. The program aimed to nurture young people at risk of societal exclusion by providing vocational and life skills and education, thereby helping to prepare them for the future.
Recently, two of those students graduated high school and, with the aid of Banyan Tree scholarships, have this year moved on to university.
Phuthiporn Kunlabut, nicknamed Bass, is one of those lucky students. She said, “My family was so proud of me during my internship at Banyan Tree Samui. I learned a lot in the pastry kitchen – baking, dessert making, food preparation and decoration. After that, I did a stint with the housekeeping department, where I learned to handle guests’ queries. I also got to join the florist team.”
Bass is now studying Food and Nutrition at Rajamangala University on the mainland in Songkhla, while her fellow “seedling” Thayaporn Songkong, nicknamed On, has begun her first year at the Faculty of Law at Suratthani Rajabhat University.
The resort’s Seedlings Mentorship program is part of a wider initiative by the Banyan Tree Global Foundation. Launched in 2007, this two-phased programme supports mentorship for students between the ages of 12 and 18, as well as scholarships to provide financial support for those able to continue their education.
Banyan Tree Samui said it is looking to support three more students or “seedlings” this year.