Sustainable tourism Yangshuo
At Yangshuo Mountain Retreat we believe in meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, we have implemented certain practices to help us achieve this core value. Below is a list of some of the initiatives that we use to help us achieve our aim.
We have drilled our own well and set up a cistern to reduce the impact on the water resources in the area and we don't use sprinklers but water all our plants by hand.
All our gray water is contained in an open septic field which we built on construction of the hotel and is covered with water lilies and inhabited by snails and frogs.
In 2011 we stopped using coal and converted all hot water to solar and electric.
We also intend to build our solar for hot water capacity to reduce electicity consumption yet further.
We recycle all food waste to local farms and separate plastic, paper and glass for local recycling.
We do not use any disposable products, including paper napkins, single-use chopsticks, plastic wrapping, or drinking water bottles. We have come up with smart local solutions that let us re-use and encourage guests to do the same.
Flora & Fauna
The Mountain Retreat family originates from the surrounding villages, bringing an authentic local warmth to our business. When we built the Mountain Retreat the land used was previously fallow rice terraces. We planted over 300 plants and trees including native bougainvillea, orange osmanthus trees, bananas, bamboo, birds of paradise, fig trees, pipa trees, pineapple palms and evergreens!
The introduction of the flora has encouraged local wildlife back into the area including frogs, snakes, (non poisonous!) bats, many different insects and birds. Around the hotel we have also put up bird houses which are inhabited each year.
All of our staff is from neighbouring villages except from our Staff Development Coach, Ronald van der Weerd. We encourage our staff to interact with our guests and share with them Yangshuo's local culture and traditions.
All staff share in profits every month and all tips are distributed equally among departments.
We pay into a government social retirement fund which many private businesses here do not provide and we also have a health care fund to cover any medical expenses not covered by staff health insurance. Staff have comfortable dormitories on site and many eat 3 meals a day here. We offer two weeks annual leave after the first year with one additional day for every year that the staff serve.
Interest free loans are available to all staff for building new homes or for emergency family crises.
Each year that we meet our financial goals, we take the team on a special learning holiday. In 2006, we spent 4 days at the Marriott Sanya Resort on Hainan Island, with a tour each day of the hotel's operations. In 2007, we brought everyone to Lijiang Ancient Town in Yunnan Province which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stayed in a local guesthouse and toured the town's unique markets. In February 2008 we brought the team to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here, they visited handicrafts markets, boutique hotels, a spa and local attractions. This was the first time that most of the team have ever left Yangshuo China. We believe that by exposing our staff to best practices in hospitality, promotion of local culture and sustainable tourism will inspire them to greater ownership in improving services and practices at the Retreat.
In year's since, the team has visited Beijing, Shanghai, Thailand (again), Hong Kong and Vietnam. Our next destination is Taipei, Taiwan.
To read more about our staff you can go to the YSMR blog.
We invite cormorant fishermen, local song and dance troupes as well as local artists, chefs and Tai Qi instructors to perform and teach our guests. At the time of writing a local artist has set up an art gallery in one of our buildings to promote and sell his work.
We sell locally made products in our charity shop that include hand woven slippers, food and handicrafts. We also encourage our staff to sell their village produce through the shop. These include honey, chili paste and soap.
We also take guests on guided tours to explore local villages and towns introducing them to the local culture and encouraging them to spend their money in local communities.
At Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, we do not use any disposable or single-use products. In our guestrooms you'll find refillable aluminum water bottles and a hot water flask, but no plastic water bottles. Our furniture is made from local bamboo and we use groundwater-friendly chemicals for cleaning. All of these things distinguish us from other Yangshuo hotels, making us a model for sustainable tourism in China. Our Riverside retreat is very careful to preserve not only our property, but for our guests to make a minimal impact on Yangshuo county environment. As a certified green hotel, the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is proud to protect the Yangshuo countryside for future generations, and educate both locals and visitors to Yangshuo China on the importance of keeping it beautiful for everyone.
Every year since 2008, we donate to the Blessing Hands Foundation, a registered 501.3C in the United States. This money is earmarked to pay full college tuition for two girls from rural areas around Yangshuo who do not have the financial means to pay themselves. The results have been very encouraging with a 100% graduation rate.