Anurak Community Lodge in southern Thailand has won the global 2019 SKAL Sustainable Tourism Award in the rural accommodation category. The award was presented during the opening ceremony of the 80th SKAL World Congress held onboard the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas cruise ship on 15 September in the waters off Florida. SKAL international has been presenting its sustainable tourism awards since 2002.
The 20-key lodge, which opened in 2016 in a forest setting on the edge of Khao Sok National Park, was one of nine winners. The judges evaluated all entries based on excellence in sustainability criteria such as nature preservation, animal welfare, carbon offsetting, climate change mitigation, energy and water saving, cultural preservation, local community involvement, human rights protection, health and safety for employees and guests, local employment, employee participation, training, and economic viability.
Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YAANA Ventures which conceived, built and runs Anurak Community Lodge said: “The award comes at a time when Anurak is working with our guests and Thailand’s Forest Restoration and Research Unit from Chiang Mai University on our ‘Rainforest Rising’ project. Our aim is to return a plantation of palm oil trees beside the lodge to full indigenous rainforest cover.”
Beyond Rainforest Rising, Anurak’s operation since opening has been guided by an ethos of reduce, reuse and recycle. Guests and staff are encouraged to save energy and water. Single-use plastic, Styrofoam and cardboard plates are banned. Plastic straws have been replaced with bamboo and metal ones. An onsite recycling station has been set up, along with a composting area. A grey water treatment filter system for laundry wastewater is in place. Water from that system is being used on the Rainforest Rising project.
These efforts and more are part of Anurak’s wide-ranging sustainability management plan, which includes releasing a publicly available sustainability report every six months.