In Hotel, Travel | On 02-10-2011
At the Caravelle Hotel we’re known for doing our share of sizzle-and-pop, sparkle-and-shine, suit-and-tie events. We’ve got a perpetually interesting guest list on any given week, some truly genius chefs showcase their cuisine in our kitchens, and when we throw a party the whole city knows about it-way in advance.
What few people know is that aside from hosting diplomats and American idol winners, the Caravelle also hosts--for a greatly reduced cost--a steady stream of doctors who come to town to perform volunteer surgery. Champagne parties like the Taittinger Purple Night we hosted earlier this month get a slew of media play, but our highly-successful fundraiser for the Christchurch earthquake victims slipped under the radar.
After many years in this industry, this doesn’t surprise me. In fact it’s one reason I like to write this blog--to give our community a look inside this iconic hotel and what it’s all about.
We did throw a party during this year’s Full Moon Festival, but for a very different audience.
A few weeks ago we began planning to bring the traditional holiday to the 400 mentally and physically disabled children at Thi Nghe Orphanage in Binh Thanh District. We quietly collected all the hotel’s unused toiletries, soaps, old linen, slightly worn sheets and pillowcases. The staff organised a lucky draw to raise money for the orphans, and with that we bought rice and staples, and performers as a treat for the orphans to enjoy on the day.
The afternoon of Sept. 11, I and about 25 members of the Caravelle’s management and staff paid a visit to the Thi Nghe Orphanage. Though I’m still impressed by how clean and well-run the facility is, it was heartrending to see so many children, of all ages, suffering from cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome.
|The Caravelle’s management and staff with the orphans
While watching the performance we staged in the courtyard, we were touched to see how much the orphans responded to the music. They bobbed their heads, clapped and smiled in a way that lifted everyone’s spirits.
After the show, I gladly presented the principal with the VND 17 million we’d raised to assist in the orphanage’s operations. We went around handing out goodie bags of milk, cookies and toys, then each of us spent some personal time feeding the orphans the soup and moon cakes prepared by the Caravelle chefs.
Before saying goodbye, we were given a tour of the orphanage. Looking around and realising that many of the children we’d just met would never have a chance to enjoy life outside, made the fact that we’d brought a bit of the festival to them that much sweeter.
It wasn’t a glamorous event in any way, but each of us were sincerely glad we came, and we left promising to come back soon.
If I didn’t know better, I would probably say the concepts of luxury travel and community action are a world apart. Thankfully, I’ve been able to work with some top-notch, socially responsible outﬁts over the years. The Caravelle Hotel is one such outﬁt, and I know of several others in the country that have admirably stepped up to the plate.
Experiences like our visit to Thi Nghe always remind me that, no matter the misconceptions, when luxury hotels and community action do meet, they are a very good match indeed.