Monday, December 9, 2013

The Dusit Thani Manila's wonderful feeding program in Payatas. And all about a nice lunch in Manila's prettiest Japanese restaurant.


Today, in Manila living a Travelife, the holiday rush stopped for a few hours for an enjoyable lunch with Dusit Thani Manila General Manager Alex Willats and his dynamic and lovely wife Claire.

We had lunch at UMU, the Japanese restaurant of the Dusit Thani Manila, which I often describe as the prettiest Japanese restaurant in Manila.


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TALKING ABOUT TRAVEL & LIFE

Over grilled teriyaki gindara and prawns, we talked about Travel and Life.

On travel, we were exchanging notes on the safari experience.

Alex and Claire were on safari not too long ago at a place in South Africa that is still on my bucket list.

Sabi Sabi's Earth Lodge in Greater Kruger National Park

Of course, I told them about my experience at Sabi Sabi in Greater Kruger National Park.

I’ve been on eight safaris in the last 12 months, and my experience at Sabi Sabi ranks as among my favorites, even if each and every safari experience has been absolutely wonderful so far.

It's actually impossible to compare these eight experiences, as each safari has been very different.

THE NOT SO HAPPY LIFE

After discussing Travel, we also talked about Life.

In particular, we talked about the hard life that so many people living on the peripheries of this big metropolis are experiencing.

One community that is particularly hard on its luck is the community of Payatas, where many people don't have proper jobs or food on their tables.

Lunch today at UMU, the Japanese restaurant
of the Dusit Thani Manila

DUSIT THANI MANILA'S FEEDING PROJECT

At the initiative of Claire, who is among the most driven and yet compassionate women I have met in recent memory, the Dusit Thani Manila is now regularly providing the leftover food from its buffet spreads to the poor children of Payatas.


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A WONDERFUL WIN-WIN SITUATION

The Dusit Thani Manila is probably the first major hotel in this city to take this initiative.

So you may be wondering: why don't more hotels give their leftover food to starving people?

It does seem like a no-brainer, don’t you think?

This is about the most win-win situation I have ever seen: a luxury hotel is able to “dispose” of its leftovers in a truly useful way, and so many hungry people are given food.



However, this has not happened yet, until this point, because many hotels would like to err on the side of caution and avoid the complications and risks involved with feeding people outside of its premises, and in environments where they have no control.

This is very understandable from a business perspective.

No company wants to risk lawsuits or complaints.

Lunch today at UMU, the Japanese restaurant
of the Dusit Thani Manila

THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD

But Alex and the Dusit Thani Manila have taken that brave, great leap forward by getting proper agreements in place and then, together with a foundation, coming up with a workable system that will enable the less fortunate of Payatas to receive their leftover food, without risking lawsuits.

Until now, most hotels have been feeding their leftover food to pigs.

Yes, pigs are eating better than many human beings in this case.

NOT SMALL CHANGE AT ALL

The leftover food at a hotel is no small deal, either. That’s several thousand tons of food a week, for one hotel alone.

And now, several hundred children in Payatas are getting proper food on a regular basis.

Lunch today at UMU, the Japanese restaurant
of the Dusit Thani Manila

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT,
ISN'T THE QUESTION

I asked them: “What happened to the children of Payatas before the Dusit came along?

This feeding program of the Dusit Thani Manila began fairly recently, you see.

Alex shrugged and said: “If their parents couldn’t find food, they just didn’t eat.

A GOOD WAY TO USE LEFTOVER SHAMPOO


The hotel has also begun disposing of its leftover toiletries and other disposable products in the same way.

You know how you stay at a hotel and then use only 1/3 of a bottle of shampoo?

I’ve often wondered what happens to the remaining 2/3 if I don’t take the shampoo home. I never finish a bottle of shampoo when I stay in a hotel -- and I'm in a hotel practically every week.



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Apparently, most of these products get thrown into the bin because these can’t be recycled to other guests or given to staff, of course.

But now, these, too, are going to some people who can really use them.

Bravo, Dusit Thani Manila. I hope other luxury hotels follow suit soon. There will certainly be less hungry people in this part of the world.


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