When the United Nations published their Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, we decided to take a good look at them. We started by assessing how well our three hotels, Awasi Atacama, Awasi Patagonia and Awasi Iguazu, are complying to them thus far, and then we set out to use them as a guideline moving forward.
So what are the Sustainability Development Goals?
The SDG’s directly address the current global challenges, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and also peace and justice. So there is quite a lot there!
Applying the SDGs to Awasi
We began with this project at the end of 2020, beginning with a review of our operations to see where we were strongest and where needed most work. Here are a few examples:
1: No Poverty
This is a noble and longterm goal, something we try to aid by employing local people at our Relais & Chateaux lodges. Each of our three hotels generates apprximately 100 jobs, the majority of which are given to people from the area. This is something we prioritise for several reasons, including our appreciation of true authenticity and the joy experienced by our guests when they meet people from Atacama, Iguazu or Patagonia who can share their views and perspectives as well as the history and nuances of the destination.
In many cases, employing one member of a family has a huge impact on the lives of their extended family. When and where possible, we also source all products needed in our hotels from local suppliers: this ranges from building materials to decoration, food and experiences for our guests – for example in Patagonia, our guests ride out with local gauchos who otherwise are tending to their livestock, and in Iguazu we have the pleasure of learning ancient weaving techniques from the local Guarani community.
2: Zero Hunger
We offer food of the highest quality to all Awasi employees during their time at work. This encourages the consumption of seasonal produce and further supports local suppliers many of whom are small and rely on our commerce for their businesses. It also means our team benefits from a healthy, balanced diet which is very positive for their wellbeing. We also donate unused or surplus supplies to those most in need in the destinations where our hotels are located (San Pedro de Atacama and Torres del Paine in Chile; and Iguazu in Argentina). We also have our own vegetable gardens in order to minimise carbon footprint.
Hotel restaurants are renowned for food waste, especially those with long extensive menus. We tackle this issue by offering menus at each meal that showcase a small selection of options all based on the seasonal produce we have that day. We avoid buffets and prepare everything to order.
As members of Relais & Châteaux we take part in annual campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of eating a diverse diet and consuming responsibly, these include “Food for Change”, “Slow Food” and “Fish Unknown” – the latter for example champions lesser-known, local varieties of seafood.
Our target here is to further reduce the consumption of imported ingredients, truly focussing on the joy of local, seasonal produce.
3: Good Healthy and Well-Being
We have been operating our hotels during the pandemic and as such have had to expand and develop new sanitary protocols to guarantee the health and well-being of our guests and staff. We have carried out training, continued supplying a balanced and healthy diet to our team to maintain good health.
At the very centre of what we offer at Awasi are excursions – we offer a private guide and vehicle per room – and so the joy of exploring remote destinations is something we are very passionate about and our lodges offer a wide range of physical activities from bike and horse rides to hiking and kayaking.
We also offer yoga classes, chi kung, massages and treatments to guests and staff at our three hotels. One of our suggestions for moving forward is to carry out workshops for our staff covering nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet.
4: Quality Education
Education is something that has come to the forefront this past year. As travel has been hugely reduced, we have tried to make the most of the slower pace of tourism to further educate and expand the knowledge of our team. From language classes for Awasi staff and their children (so far we have done English and French classes, and we are currently carrying out Portuguese lessons). We have also offered workshops in story-telling, art, history, first aid, cooking, housekeeping, maintenance and well-being. Also, for many years now we have been running the Awasi Guide School.
A framework for Awasi operations
Using these 17 objectives as a framework for our actions has been very useful, and also encouraging. For example, when it comes to Gender Equality we have more female than male management staff (managers and heads of department), and we pay equal wages to our staff regardless of gender. Aa regards Clean Water and Sanitation, we have wells and water treatment plants at each of our lodges. Furthermore, Awasi as a company is carbon negative.
Working towards a more sustainable planet and being a responsible company is at the heart of what we believe in at Awasi. It is a constant point of focus for us and we are very much aware that we can always be doing more, however we are happy to be aligned with the vast majority of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals and will continue to work towards further improvements.