Giving back to the community: Philanthropic hotels
Many hotels make efforts to be environmentally conscious. But a couple of special properties deserve to be recognized for a different kind of contribution: for increasing their social consciousness. Both the Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica and the Betsy Hotel in Miami make outstanding philanthropic efforts, and are actively helping to improve the quality of life of residents in underserved communities around the globe.
Location: Negril, Jamaica
Since the Rockhouse's inception, the hotel's owners have striven to minimize their impact on the surrounding jungle and contribute to the growth of the struggling Negril community. Rooms come equipped with locally-produced Starfish Oils bath products, all of the furniture is crafted from locally grown timber, and the hotel uses solar-heated hot water.
In 2003, the owners founded The Rockhouse Foundation, a New York-based not-for-profit foundation that works to strengthen and expand the public library and schools in Negril. The organization has already invested over $1 million in rebuilding the community's public education system.
Location: South Beach, Miami
Miami's Betsy Hotel works to raise the social awareness of their guests and their community. The hotel regularly opens up its spaces to host events for charitable causes -- 50 in its first year -- and the owners run their own philanthropic organization in conjunction with the hotel. The Betsy operates on what its vice president for philanthropy, Deborah Briggs, calls a "social entrepreneurship model," communicating with guests about what causes they value and encouraging them to suggest causes for the Betsy to support.
The owners' New York-based PG Family Foundation strives to address and provide relief for issues like arts, culture, and education in underserved communities domestically and internationally. The foundation sponsored the U.S. tour of Liyana -- a band of eight disabled musicians from Zimbabwe -- in 2009. The foundation also played a role in the production of Music by Prudence, an Academy Award-winning documentary that profiled the band.