The launch of the landmark resort’s latest onsite initiatives signals a new milestone in the resort’s sustainable integration
LUANG PRABANG, LAOS: Pullman Luang Prabang has steadily immersed itself in the city’s already thriving eco-tourism and sustainability scene since launching in 2018.
By sourcing locally and working with the community, the 123-key resort aims to improve guest experiences, reduce waste and create cyclical benefits for the entire area. Every action is underpinned by AccorHotels’ global Planet 21 programme.
“We are proud to say that Pullman Luang Prabang is a genuinely responsible business,” says general manager Denis Dupart. “Many hotels are implementing CSR projects, which is admirable, but few can truly claim to operate in perfect harmony with their community and the environment. By being smart, sensitive and supporting a vast number of worthwhile initiatives, we are able to create a positive impact within our destination. This is ethical tourism in action.”
Initiatives to date include partnerships with socially-responsible enterprises such as Ock Pop Tok and Laos Buffalo Dairy. The hotel’s holistic focus on sustainability is no gimmick or publicity stunt; it is a purely practical way of operating. The drive towards self-sufficiency, however, starts in the resort’s own vast tracts of land.
Created in partnership with EcoAsia, an environmental consultancy company, the recently completed onsite organic garden will eventually supply the resort’s team of innovative chefs with fresh ingredients for their inventive menus. This is much more than just a vegetable garden, however. Covering multiple hectares of land around the resort, the farmstead will comprise a fruit orchard, tropical garden, greenhouse nursery, vegetable gardens, a buffalo pasture, duck pond, and even an area housing chickens and goats.
Guests will also be able to experience the agrarian arcadia first-hand, with activities such as animal feeding, egg collecting, fruit picking and even buffalo milking – perfect for adventure-seeking families, curious kids and team-building with a twist. Naturally, this vast organic marketplace allows guests to learn all about Lao cuisine, and the resort’s chefs will host cooking classes that introduce the ingredients, flavours and techniques that go into creating the country’s delectable dishes.
The ambitious project is already employing three local gardeners and one manager, and with the launch of phase two will expand to incorporate a hilltop café and a natural playground with a zip line over the garden, allowing children to connect with nature in an exhilarating way. In doing so, the scope of the garden will go from practical to experiential, offering immersive guest activities and even professionally-led courses and workshops.
Another key aspect of Pullman Luang Prabang’s programme is the up-and-running rice terraces. Worked in a traditional way by local farmers using water buffalo, this co-operative arrangement sees the farmers keep 60 per cent of the harvested rice, while the remaining 40 per cent goes to the hotel’s kitchen. Guests are able to learn about the rice cultivation process by helping to plant and harvest the rice, depending on the season, and they can even bathe the buffalo. The unused rice husks are then donated to MandaLao Elephant Conservation Camp, which guests can visit to enjoy ethical interactions with the animals. This ensures a 360-degree relationship between the hotel, the guest and the environment.
The rice cultivation forms a key part of Pullman Luang Prabang’s “farm-to-table” F&B concept, through which the resort sources as much of its produce as possible from local and sustainable businesses. The resort’s team of chefs make a daily sunrise pilgrimage to Luang Prabang’s morning market and have also developed a wide network of local suppliers. They buy fruits, vegetables, herbs and seeds from the Namkhan Project, a nearby eco-farm which has helped to reverse soil degradation, and other organic produce from the Living Land Farm, a social venture which generates income for rural villagers. Theyalso buy a selection of cheeses, yoghurt and ice cream from the Laos Buffalo Dairy, a unique project that rents buffalo when they are not working the fields, creating an additional revenue stream for the animals’ owners.
“One of the most inspiring things about Luang Prabang is the abundant availability of fresh produce,” they explain.“From farmers who use authentic production methods to innovative new producers, we are extremely fortunate to have access to a wide range of incredible ingredients. By sourcing locally, we arealso significantly reducing our F&B department’s carbon footprint. Our menus let the fresh produce speak for itself and we are confident that guests will be able to taste the difference.”
Luang Prabang has long enchanted guests with authentic heritage experiences and unique insights into Laos’ famously laid-back culture. But through an integrated approach to hospitality and sustainability, Pullman is promoting another of the city’s most celebrated traits, growing organically within this idyllic destination, empowering the community and creating a shining example for other tourism businesses to follow.