To raise awareness about global education, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed January 24 as the International Day of Education. Every year on this day, citizens and organizations around the world celebrate the role of education for peace and development and promote lifelong learning opportunities. Supporting education is a key pillar of Shangri-La Group’s sustainability program, which doesn’t stop on International Day of Education. From long-term commitments with local schools to empowering career growth through educational modules, Shangri-La Group is committed to continued education for all.
Educating Through EMBRACE Programs
Launched in September 2009, Embrace - Shangri-La's Care for People Project - commits each hotel to a five- to 10-year partnership with a chosen beneficiary focusing children's health or education programs. These projects look at the level of education and health support needed in under-privileged communities. As of 2019, Shangri-La Group had 111 EMBRACE active programs worldwide, benefitting over 31,600 beneficiaries. The programs extended over 1,142 youth internships and apprenticeships and over 42,000 sponsored meals for hungry children.
Since 1977, Yan Oi Tong (YOT) has helped underprivileged members of the Hong Kong community and has become one of the six largest charity groups in Hong Kong. As its long term EMBRACE partner and aligning with YOT’s mission to provide educational services to underprivileged community members, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong unveiled a simulated hotel guestroom at the YOT Chan Wong Suk Fong Memorial Secondary School in April 2018. With help from teachers at the school, hospitality and tourism students from low-income communities are able to learn from a simulated hands-on experience.
In many destinations, Shangri-La properties improve local schools with charitable programs and rebuilding initiatives. In Malaysia, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa supports the Bantanyan Inanam Primary School to improve the school’s infrastructure and teaching programs. Resort colleagues also introduced a “Meal a Day” and “English Booster” programs to ensure all students have access to adequate nutrition and learning support, as well partnered with Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra to provide free music lessons to 23 young musicians. Employees at Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta help clean, renovate and restore a local junior high school that suffers from insufficient classroom, toilet, canteen, garden and schoolyard facilities, while Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya supports SD Tanwir elementary school and its students by providing educational programs, supplies, scholarships and opportunities.
In Cebu, Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa gifted TING Elementary School, the resort's EMBRACE partner, a new rainwater harvesting system. Together with the University of San Carlos - College of Engineering, resort colleagues installed seven water tanks, each of which can store up to 2,000 liters of rainwater. Apart from students and teachers, members of the community can also benefit from the project as the stored rainwater will be available for household needs. In Myanmar, Sule Shangri-La, Yangon completely rebuilt Sasana Hita Kari Pri Yatti Monastic Education Center over a six-year commitment.
Educating Through Partnerships
Beyond EMBRACE programs, Shangri-La properties partner with like-minded organizations to teach community members new life skills that will help support their careers, families and villages. Through Stop The Smoke program, Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai teams with Warm Heart Organization to provide resources and teach villagers how to operate biochar production facilities, which creates biochar that can be resold as organic fertilizer or combustible briquettes, a more sustainable alternative to coal. Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai partners with Emirates Down Syndrome Association (EDSA) to support their mission to help people with Down syndrome achieve their full potential. As the hotel’s EMBRACE beneficiary, Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai has provided training programs, vocational rehabilitation, counseling, community events, fundraising and donations and more.
Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, Yanuca Island founded the Heritage in Young Hands program in partnership with The National Trust for Fiji Islands and the Ministry of Education, Heritage & Arts and national Archives of Fiji. The five-year outdoor training program includes a general environment education and life skills awareness in the first year and second year, students undergo specialized training as junior rangers in the years that follow. The program has 100 students enrolled to date.
Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver partners with One Girl Can for its charity-focused overnight package, The Philanthropic Stay. For every night booked with the package, CAD50 is donated to One Girl Can, a registered Canadian charity breaking the cycle of poverty and impacting gender equality through education and mentorship.
Shangri-La properties are also committed to providing cultural teaching moments in our destinations. Guests and community members of Shangri-La’s Sanya Resort & Spa, Hainan learned about Hainan Li Jin embroidery from teachers of the Haitang Jin Cooperative, an organization that supports women in the Li community who create Hainan Li Jin textiles. In Malaysia, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu provides meeting planners the opportunity to book cultural experiences during meetings and events.
Educating During Challenging Times
During challenging times, Shangri-La properties are committed to serving communities and ensuring education is accessible. During the pandemic, all five Shangri-La businesses in Hong Kong – Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong, Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong, Hotel Jen Hong Kong by Shangri-La, and Aberdeen Marina Club – hosted biweekly virtual classes for their EMBRACE beneficiary, Heep Hong Society, to teach children with special educational needs such as ADHD, autism and dyslexia. Volunteers from JEN Penang by Shangri-La and Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka prepared learning supplies and cleaned school grounds for children returning to school after city-wide lockdowns during the pandemic.
Environmental Education Through SANCTUARY Projects
Shangri-La resorts around the world host SANCTUARY projects to promote the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. In line with Sanctuary, many resorts have Shangri-La Eco Centres where visitors can learn about surrounding marine life or the local flora and fauna through informational modules, talks and activities. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa’s Eco Centre is dedicated to helping guests learn about the ecosystem in Oman, including the endangered species of turtles that hatch on the resort’s beaches. Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka hosts an on-site eco center where guests can learn about Sri Lanka’s natural environment. The key programs focus on the development of elephant conservation programs in and around Hambantota and address the human-elephant conflict and habitat loss.
In Kota Kinabalu, both Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa and Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa recognize their local habitats in their eco centers. In partnership with the Sabah State Wildlife Department, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa’s eco center focuses on protecting a 64-acre ecological area to rehabilitate fauna indigenous to Sabah, while Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa is home to the Clownfish Discovery Centre that features a reef tank, breeding tank and rearing tanks for fish.
Shangri-La provides continued education and growth through Shangri-La Academy, an in-house learning center designed to build competencies and support career development for over 45,000 Shangri-La colleagues across the globe. With a comprehensive suite of online, classroom and one-on-one learning programs aligned with some of the most accredited leadership and hospitality standards in the industry, Shangri-La Academy makes learning accessible to all.
With over 300 course, Shangri-La Academy empowers colleagues to learn new skills by watching bite-sized videos from the functional catalogue. They can also invest their time in completing online courses that help strengthen their capabilities for their role or broaden their knowledge in other areas of hospitality. Courses range from health and safety training videos to courses that help colleagues manage anxiety and explore positive habits, to introduction to wine and to the art of the barista.