Social responsibility in Phuket, Thailand
Shara pays a visit to Banyan Tree Phuket. A luxury beachfront resort that’s a paradise within paradise…
A (relative) hop, skip and a jump and away from Hong Kong, the lush greenery of Phuket beckons. It wasn’t somewhere I wanted to miss.
A tourist hotspot, there are plenty of secluded, dreamy hotels that will ensure you avoid the chaos and busy streets, and we wanted to head straight to the Banyan Tree hotel. This was actually trickier than it sounds – having somehow managed to list my Irish friend as Israeli when booking her ticket, we had a slightly harrowing airport check in, but made it in one piece, and the hotel’s soothing ambience on arrival more than made up for it.
When we chose to leave the room, we cycled to get around the property, Soho Farmhouse-style. It was a fun, easy way to take in the multiple restaurants and bars, pool and spa. There are water features (including a saltwater lagoon) and tropical greenery all over the place – each time you turn a corner, you are met with another idyllic landscape.
Unable to cycle past the spa without stopping in, I requested a deep tissue massage. I enjoy massages with firm pressure in London so assume it will be the same here, but I’m soon wincing. It turns out ‘firm’ in Thailand actually means ‘extremely firm’ by our Western standards, and asking for medium will give you the equivalent to serious pressure.
Newly knot-free, it was dinner time and we dined at the hotel’s Saffron restaurant. Specialising in Thai food, there is one of these at each Banyan Tree property globally, making it something of a trademark, and for good reason. The food was fantastic and our lovely waitress offered us six different types of rice with our red curry, each with its own particular beneficial property for skin, digestion and so on.
The next day, the hotel organised an excursion to Seedlings Cafe, where we took a cooking course. The social enterprise trains locals from disadvantaged backgrounds in the ins and outs of the hospitality industry, so they can go to to work in one of the hotels and restaurants in the area, providing steady income. More than just a great day out with incredible food for us, it is a clear example of entrepreneurship and innovation in an area where tourism and poverty sit side by side.
This sense of social responsibility continues back at the hotel, which prides itself on using as little plastic as possible, so much so that we actually noticed the lack of it. It feels like an early adoption of what should be an industry-wide goal, and is just one of the ways that The Banyan Tree is setting standards.
To discover more about Banyan Tree resorts, visit the website.