Social responsibility lies at the heart of the Shinta Mani Hotel and Heritage Suites Hotel in Siem Reap
When checking into a hotel, your first thought is probably not where your money is going. Chances are that you’re more eager to dive straight into the swimming pool. But at Siem Reap’s Shinta Mani Hotel and Heritage Suites Hotel, where the money goes lies at the heart of their philosophies.
The Shinta Mani Hotel, which means ‘good heart’ in Sanskrit, aspires to become the leader of responsible tourism in Cambodia. $5 of the room rate, as well as other revenue from the hotel, goes straight to the Shinta Mani Foundation, a fund that contributes to education, small business start-ups, healthcare and more. During the last four years, guests of the Shinta Mani have directly contributed to providing locals with more than 900 piglets, 1,000 wells and 90 houses, as well as education and support.
“Any company going into a country like Cambodia should give back to the community,” said Christian de Boer, the general manager at Shinta Mani Hotel, recently ranked the best hotel in Southeast Asia by Conde Nast Traveler (US edition). “We are very proud of the fact that our staff are employed all year round, no seasonal work, and we provide them with health care and with things like banking advice and marriage counselling. And all of our staff, except me, are Cambodian.”
Shinta Mani also organises Siem Reap’s Made in Cambodia Market, a weekend bazaar at which everything from traditional scarves to quirky jewellery is made by, and directly benefits, local Cambodians.
“Many people in Cambodia experience difficulties in creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for themselves, and have little access to education,” said Jam Nsouli, the general manager at Heritage Suites Hotel, a luxury boutique retreat in the heart of Temple Town. For a number of years, the hotel has supported the local Sala Baï Hotel and Restaurant School, which provides free education and training for young, underprivileged Cambodians in the hospitality industry. More than 1,000 students have graduated since the school opened in 2002, and the hotel has a firm policy of training and hiring from the school.
“It truly is the best way of giving back to society,” she said. “We are helping those who have never really had access to education, and in equipping them with vocational skills Sala Baï is essentially creating a path along which these youths can build a career for themselves. The alumni who have joined our family here at Heritage Suites Hotel are a living testament to the fantastic job Sala Baï has done in training them, and it is wonderful to witness how they have blossomed into bright, confident professionals within the hospitality industry.”
Heritage Suites Hotel also organises regular fundraising events and annual gala dinners with the proceeds going directly to the education of Cambodia’s next generation. In May 2015, the hotel successfully raised $13,300 (in excess of the evening’s $10,000 target) in gala dinner ticket sales and charity auction proceeds in support of Sala Baï, allowing the school to achieve its goal of increasing its student intake from 100 to 108 students.
“It’s the welfare of our staff and the local people we have in mind for most of our decisions,” said De Boer. “And happy staff means happy guests.”