By Joel Centano, Virtuoso Traveler Editor
Originally appeared in April 2015 Virtuoso Traveler
Can your hotel stay help change the world? Yes, according to Atlanta-based travel advisor Betty Jo Currie. “Giving is better than receiving, and when you’re being spoiled at luxury hotels, it’s easy to see the value in doing good for others,” says Currie, who’s seen a steep rise in the number of clients seeking ways to volunteer on their vacations.
“Good travelers strive to educate themselves on the destinations they visit, and know they win when they contribute and engage in meaningful ways with local communities,” she adds. “Better yet, local populations win when the process of giving back is done carefully and thoughtfully.”
Here are some of our favorite stays where what you give is as good as what you get. Use the arrows to navigate.
Up First: South Africa
Make Schoolkids Smile
Le Quartier Français’ Isabelo program provides meals to nearly 1,300 disadvantaged children daily. Guests of the 21-room boutique hotel can deliver the meals and, when staying five nights or longer, help teach and care for preschoolers.
Hunt Invasive Species
To save the Caribbean’s largest barrier reef, the 25-cottage Turtle Inn equips guests with scuba gear and a trident to spear invasive – and voracious – red lionfish. Guests can then dine on their catch, which are as delicious as they are destructive.
Adopt an Asian Elephant
Your sponsorship and stay at the 15-luxury-tent Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle mean food and shelter for rescued pachyderms and their mahout (caretaker) partners.
Next: Northern California
Help Families in Need
The 261-room Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay sponsors volunteer shifts on the third Thursday of each month at the nearby Coastside Hope center, which provides emergency food, clothing, and shelter to local residents.
Fight Global Warming
For each night of their stay during the first week of June, guests of the 117-villa Banyan Tree Mayakoba can help plant two trees in local Mayan communities to commemorate World Environment Day.