Animal encounters are a popular attraction when it comes to seeking out new adventures – a safari experience is bound to be on any avid travellers’ bucket list. However, there are many other hotels and resorts around the world that are embracing animal life in a more subtle (and ethical) way, by simply finding new ways to co-exist and support their local wildlife. In turn, guests get to experience a delightful animal encounter without having to worry about the animal’s welfare behind the scenes.
Here are some of the lesser-known ways hotels and resorts have been embracing the animals on their doorstep:
Banyan Tree Samui, Thailand
It’s very rare for a sea turtle to lay her eggs on a strand that’s usually strewn with beach towels – usually they seek a hidden shore on a remote island. However when an expecting green turtle laid three clutches of more than 200 eggs on the beach at Banyan Tree Samui in February and March she unknowingly picked the right place. Banyan Tree Samui, located in Koh Samui, is one of the highest-ranked hotels in Thailand in terms of eco-friendliness and sustainability; and the staff – which includes a marine biologist – did what they could to help. They got together with local vets to monitor the eggs and build a fence around the nests to keep out predators such as monitor lizards and birds.
The first nest of eggs hatched earlier this month and a total of 92 hatchlings surfaced and made their way to the sea! The rest of the nests are expected to hatch within the coming weeks. You can keep up to date by following Banyan Tree Samui on Instagram.
Laguna Lang Co, Vietnam
At Laguna Lang Co the legwork involved in maintaining the resort’s championship golf course is shared between man, machinery and beast. A family of water buffalo – father Tu Phat, mother Chi Chi, eldest calf Bao, and newest arrival baby Luna – sprang to prominence last year as many around the world learned about their roles as “bio-mowers” on the spectacular Sir Nick Faldo Signature Design golf course. The bovine brood have been vital in helping to maintain the elevated status of the layout, which winds its way through tropical jungle, ocean sand dunes and rice paddies and was ranked as the best in Vietnam at the 2019 Vietnam Golf Awards. They help to manage the seven-hectares of rice fields located right in the middle of the course by eating excess weeds and crops in the area that would otherwise require machinery and manpower to maintain.
“Continually mowing the fields to maintain vast rice terraces can consume a large amount of labour and fuel,” said Adam Calver, Director of Golf at Laguna Lang Co. “The water buffalo act as bio-mowers and help us protect the natural feel of the landscape. Since we introduced the buffalo, we have seen a number of birds moving in as they feast on the insects as the animals till the soil.”
Red Mountain Resort, Utah
The award-winning Red Mountain Resort, in Southwestern Utah, has incorporated local rescue dogs into their hotel offering through their Pound Puppy Hike activity. The resort has teamed up with the local St. George Animal Shelter to allow guests to take a shelter dog out for a walk around the spectacular landscapes of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The shelter even provides treats for you to give the dog, ensuring that you’ll have a happy companion. And if you really fall in love with your walking buddy, you have the option to adopt it and bring them home with you. As one of the most popular offerings at the resort, the Pound Puppy Hike is complimentary to your stay.
The resort also has a partnership with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest “no-kill” animal welfare organization, to offer day-long excursions.
The Royal Livingstone Hotel, Zambia
Located on the banks of the Zambezi River, The Royal Livingstone Hotel by Anantara boasts a spectacular position to witness the mighty Victoria Falls. Being in Africa, there’s no surprise that animal safaris and game tours are on offer however it’s the wild animals that the resort allows to roam the property that has our attention. There are not many places where you can wake up and see zebras walking past your room, or admire them just metres away as you dine or take a dip in the pool. As well as zebras on the property guests have the chance to see giraffes hiding by the trees, monkeys running across the resort grounds and hippos in the water. As one guest wrote on Tripadvisor, “It’s a little like having your own zoo without the fences”.
Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Phinda Private Game Reserve encompasses an impressive 28 555 hectares (70 560 acres) of protected wildlife land in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa where guests can embark on a number of safari journeys offered by &Beyond. However one of the more unique offerings allows guests to get involved in the conservation of local rhinos. Those who choose to can join a vet and park management officials to individually notch, implant an ID tag as well as collect DNA from a selected rhino. Or, depending on which activity is available at the time, they can assist with a de-horning process. Rhino populations in Africa are dwindling as continued poaching, as well as habitat loss, is putting their survival under severe threat. These procedures assist park management monitor and manage their rhino populations and help to conserve and identify them.
The Chedi Muscat, Oman
Experiences with camels in the Middle East is not uncommon. However, rather than off-site camel rides, The Chedi Muscat is welcoming a local dromedary (Arabian camel) into their hotel to guide guests on a culinary adventure throughout the resort. The new ‘Caravan of Taste’ adventure is a five-stop, three-and-a-half-hour tour of the hotel’s contemporary interpretations of cuisines developed in Arabia, India and Japan. The journey begins with a Prosecco in the Lobby Lounge Courtyard, where the hotel’s chef, details the night’s routing. The caravan then sets off following the path of the camel to the beat of a drum, pausing en route by the 103-metre Long Pool for Japanese appetisers at the cabana, before heading down a sandy path to the hotel’s Beach Restaurant. The camel’s final stop of the evening is at the Serai Pool, for shisha and dessert.