World’s Top 10 Philanthropic Holidays

Writer Véronique Lo | Published July 18, 2014

Some say travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer – it’s very true, but why not add a give-back element to your trip as well and turn it into a charitable vacation? For your next family getaway, join one of these philanthropic holiday programmes that promise to create memories of a lifetime by letting both you and your kids experience the joy of giving rather than just taking.

  • FAMILY PROGRAM AT THE MOOREA DOLPHIN CENTER AT INTERCONTINENTAL MOOREA RESORT & SPA, FRENCH POLYNESI

    Located on the mesmerising island of Moorea in French Polynesia, the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa is an eco-conscious sanctuary that takes marine protection seriously. At the resort’s Moorea Dolphin Center, guests can get to know about the friendly bottlenose dolphins through a range of activities, including this Family Program, which is also suitable for young children. During the programme, you’ll learn about the cetacean anatomy before you’re led into the dolphins’ pool for some direct interaction. The experience is not only fun and educational, but also a great way for parents and their children to bond. Part of the proceeds will be contributed to the conservation and education programmes on the marine environment in French Polynesia, as well as the Te Mana O Te Moana foundation, which is a non-profit organisation that promotes public awareness and supports research and conservation of the marine environment of the region.

    www.tahiti.intercontinental.com

  • YOU CARE, WE CARE AT CRYSTAL CRUISES

    If you’re looking for a memorable voluntourism experience, hop on board one of the luxurious cruise ships by Crystal Cruises with your family this summer and take advantage of their worldwide You Care, We Care programme, which ensures that at least one volunteer excursion is planned for every cruise. This year’s philanthropic excursions bring guests to various destinations to provide help directly to over 15 communities, including animal rescue and park conservation organisations, disadvantaged youths, as well as disabled and underprivileged adults. The next cruises will be on August 1, 17 and 31, during which volunteers will be able to support and take part in the Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ operations, such as cleaning the horse stalls and walking rescue dogs, in St Peter Port on the Channel Islands.

    www.crystalcruises.com

  • JOURNEYS OF CHANGE AT SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND, CAMBODIA

    Oftentimes when you give, you also receive; and this is the case if you go on a Journey of Change at Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia. Created for visitors who are keen to develop a deeper understanding of the local culture and environment in the Koh Rong Archipelago while contributing to the Song Saa Foundation’s work in promoting a sustainable future, the four-night programme features a variety of hands-on volunteer opportunities led by an experienced Foundation Ambassador. Choose to explore the turquoise waters of Song Saa’s marine reserve and help the resident marine biologist to gather information on coral and fish life, or wander into the island’s tropical rainforest and study the native birds and plants. Alternatively, become a member of the Boat of Hope crew and sail to bring vitamin and education services to remote Archipelago communities, and immerse in the indigenous Khmer culture through the programme’s Garden to Plate cuisine and handicraft experiences.

    www.songsaa.com

  • MUNTIGUNUNG MOUNTAIN TREK AT UMA BY COMO, UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA

    The Muntigunung Mountain Trek programme offered by Uma by COMO, Ubud and the Future for Children Foundation is an exciting expedition that combines trekking and cultural immersion with a philanthropic touch. Follow your English-speaking guide and a local village guide and hike up to the mountain villages of Muntigunung, where you can expect to have your breath taken away by the magnificent views of Mount Agung, Lake Batur and the Indian Ocean. Once there, you’ll get to interact with local villagers and be informed of the sustainable development of rural villages in northern Bali and how the Muntigunung Village Fund has been changing villagers’ lives by building infrastructure and teaching them important skills and crafts. All of the trekking fee will go back to the Fund so you can be sure that your contribution will have an enduring impact.

    www.comohotels.com

  • ADOPT A CORAL AT HUVAFEN FUSHI MALDIVES

    Home to the world’s first underwater spa and an abundance of sea life, Huvafen Fushi Maldives is a pristine resort that makes continuous efforts to preserve the natural beauty of the island and the surrounding area. Now you can also help by ‘adopting’ a coral – visit the two touch tanks outside the resort’s marine biology lab to learn about the coral ecosystems and other sea creatures around the island, then snorkel with the marine biologist to the coral nursery, where you will get to select and name the coral you wish to adopt. It’ll be looked after by the resident marine team and transplanted onto the reefs later. You’ll receive a certificate and a photo of your coral as tokens of appreciation, as well as further updates and more images that document the coral’s growth. Younger kids who aren’t able to swim comfortably can still visit the marine lab to be educated about the amazing marine life through the touch tanks.

    www.peraquum.com

  • TEMPLE & SEA TURTLE DISCOVERY AT ANANTARA SANYA RESORT & SPA, SANYA, CHINA

    An eye-opening adventure that offers invaluable educational experiences, the Temple & Sea Turtle Discovery programme at Anantara Sanya Resort & Spa allows guests to get up-close with hawksbill and green sea turtles, explore the cultural landscape of the stunning area through a guided tour around the Nanshan Cultural Park where the famous Golden Jade Guan Yin Buddha statue and the Nanshan Temple call home, and then relax at the Anantara Spa with a 90-minute massage. Inclusive of a Sea Turtles 911 guided tour, the programme takes guests to a non-profit organisation dedicated to sea turtle conservation, where they can learn about the endangered animals while holding and feeding them. The package also includes an RMB 911 donation to the centre made by the resort to support the organisation’s work.

    www.sanya.anantara.com

  • EXPLORE AND RESTORE SILVER STRAND STATE BEACH AT LOEWS CORONADO BAY RESORT, CALIFORNIA, USA

    Part of the Silver Strand State Beach Nature Tours at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, the Explore and Restore Silver Strand State Beach programme gives you the chance to participate in a restoration project or help clean the beautiful beach. The Silver Strand State Beach, located just a five-minute walk from the resort, is known for its preservation of biodiversity. Visitors joining this complimentary programme will be able to explore the area and discover interesting plants and animals, such as sand dollars, snowy plovers and grunions, during the one-hour walking tour with a State Park Environmental Educator. They can then take part in volunteer activities, including a beach clean-up, to directly aid preservation efforts – a great opportunity for parents to show their children how everyone can work together to protect our precious environment.

    www.loewshotels.com

  • ELEPHANT WHISPERER PACKAGE AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE, THAILAND

    A founding member of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle offers one-of-a-kind experiences that enable guests to interact with the resort’s four elephants and make an effort to protect these gentle giants in the region. The Elephant Whisperer Package, suitable for children above 12, is a three-night programme featuring activities like mahout training and elephant trekking through the lush jungle that surrounds the Tented Camp. While kids will enjoy helping the veterinarian to feed and perform a basic health check-up on the elephants and learning about their everyday life, parents will appreciate the sumptuous spa treatment after a long day spent with the magnificent creatures. Guests can even take part in an elephant intelligence research programme with the GTAEF and Think Elephants International, or join the resort’s Adopt a Gentle Giant programme to sponsor rescued elephants and make a lasting difference in the animals’ lives.

    www.fourseasons.com

  • GUEST EDUCATION PROGRAMME AT COCO PALM DHUNI KOLHU, MALDIVES

    Expect to get informed and get involved at the stunning paradise of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu in the Maldives. With a strong commitment to conserve and rehabilitate the island’s natural habitat, the resort has developed a special Guest Education Programme that includes a range of activities, through which guests can not only gain an understanding of the unique island environment, but also get involved in preserving it. The snorkelling and diving excursions, for instance, allow participants to assist in documenting different species and numbers of coral reef fish and sharks encountered; the fishing excursions provide hands-on experience in sustainable fishing; the manta ray and sea turtle identification programmes let more experienced swimmers and divers help with the identification process, photographing as well as naming any new specimens found; guests can also help caring for turtle nests and releasing baby turtles into the ocean once they’re hatched.

    www.cocopalm.com

  • GIVING BACK WITH THE BATTERY CONSERVANCY AT THE RITZ-CARLTON NEW YORK, BATTERY PARK, NEW YORK, USA

    Available every Tuesday from now until November, this philanthropic programme at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park takes guests to The Battery Conservancy’s gardens or the Battery Urban Farm for some hands-in-the-soil experience. Led by a professional horticulture team from The Battery Conservancy, volunteers will expand their knowledge of perennial gardens and general garden care, while participating in various operations like cleaning and beautifying the park and lawns, painting and oiling benches at The Battery, or providing assistance at the farm in weeding, planting, transplanting and selling organic vegetables at the farm stand. Some of the vegetables are also donated to school cafeterias and food pantries.

    www.ritzcarlton.com