Cardamom Tented Camp in Cambodia has won the 2022 Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) Sustainable Hotel Award for Climate Action.
In addition to climate action, there were awards for building preservation/adaptive reuse, positive community impact, and sustainable design. Submissions were assessed by seven judges, the majority from institutional sustainability backgrounds. The BHN Group, the organiser of the HICAP event, announced the winners on 12 October 2022.
The judges based the climate action decision on Cardamom Tented Camp’s ability to work with partners to preserve 180 square kilometres of lowland rainforest in the Botum Sakor national park in southwest Cambodia. On climate action, it is estimated that the forest that the camp helps protect sequesters about 108,652 tons of carbon per year, according to Wildlife Works.
Since opening in 2017, the tented camp’s motto has been, “Your Stay Keeps the Forest Standing.” It makes the claim because profits from the camp support the monthly salaries of ten Wildlife Alliance forest rangers. The rangers protect the habitat from illegal poachers, loggers, riverbank sand dredgers and land encroachers.
Populations of elephant, leopard, python, sun bear, otter, pangolin and other wildlife are improving due to camp-funded ranger patrols. The rangers have forced poachers to the perimeters or out of the park altogether.
“Despite setbacks during the two Covid years when tourism income greatly disappeared, Cardamom Tented Camp persevered in its environmental mission,” said Willem Niemeijer, CEO of camp operator YAANA Ventures. “We are grateful to HICAP for recognising our staying power and ability to work with partners to keep the forest standing, with all the benefits that bring.”
HICAP judges also considered the camp’s substantial contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as life on land, clean and affordable energy, decent work, economic growth, climate action, and partnerships. Cardamom Tented Camp is a partnership with Minor Hotel Group’s sustainability arm, the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Wildlife Alliance, and YAANA Ventures.
Beyond sequestering an estimated 108,652 tons of CO2 annually, the judges also recognised Cardamom Tented Camp’s additional environmental efforts, including being powered by 100 percent onsite solar energy for its electricity, low-impact heating and cooking, and natural wastewater filtration processes. The property recycles as much as possible and uses 100 percent organic personal care products. Future plans include:
- Powering its boat with an electric battery.
- Increasing local and onsite food sourcing.
- Undertaking community-based conservation.
Apart from Cardamom Tented Camp’s environmental efforts, it also scores well on hospitality and all-round guest experience metrics. The camp’s guest satisfaction levels are rated five stars by TripAdvisor and have been so for three years.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, YAANA Ventures estimates Cardamom Tented Camp will close in 2022 with about 80 percent of 2019’s occupancy and will return to profitable levels in 2023. In parallel with this, YAANA Ventures will increase the forest rangers’ contributions.