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Blog  - July 23, 2020

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Our Mission

Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel is a social enterprise which aims to be the leading independent Siem Reap boutique hotel, creating rewarding and memorable cultural experiences for our guests while providing life-changing opportunities for our team of Cambodian staff.

We are committed to providing an inclusive, family-friendly and LGBT-welcoming hotel that is a dynamic, creative and nourishing space for all our guests. In addition, we operate in an ethical and sustainable way that is focussed on generating career and training opportunities for the local community while also caring for our natural environment.

Above all, we are grateful to each and every one of our guests who enables us to do all of this – without you, it would simply not be possible.

How we operate as a social enterprise

Our commitment to operating sustainably is as strong as our belief in being a responsible employer. We are determined to run our Siem Reap hotel in a way that both benefits our neighbourhood and contributes to the preservation of our natural environment as a whole.

In the early days, Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel underwent an energy efficiency audit conducted by a leading Australian environmental scientist.

As a result, we launched initiatives including regular neighbourhood clean-up days, the use of refillable glass water bottles in guest rooms, providing water stations for guests and staff to use throughout the hotel, recycling as much as we can, planting an organic kitchen garden, installing LED lights across the property, providing charity-supporting bicycles for clean, environmentally friendly travel, training staff on environmental impact, and leading the way with a focus on vegan, vegetarian and locally sourced ingredients in our restaurant.

By keeping our staff employed we provide self-determination for staff, so that they can support their families, so that they have money for food and their community, and so that we can contribute to the economy, keeping markets and other small business owners having cashflow.

Charities and social venture friends we have supported include ABCS and Rice, Pagoda Cats, Bayon Pastry School, Haven, Friends International, Animals of Our World, A Place to Be Yourself, Free to Shine, Writing Through, World Vet Clinic, Elephant Valley Project, PEPY, Spoons, and more in various capacities.

What have we done so far to survive?

    • The power was off in BE Happy Guesthouse and we moved all guests into Baby Elephant
    • Moved our training venture Sugar, came up with different ideas for space
    • Made a co-working space inviting people to come and use it to try to generate food and beverage income
    • Put on yoga classes to try to generate positivity
    • Offered space as business and storage space
    • We have tried everything we can do. We’ve changed how we operate, we’ve opened for co-working, we’ve changed our pricing and reduced costs and overheads, we’ve gone online with bookings and food delivery, we defaulted on our rental property for the spa and converted a storeroom into a hidden little salon and spa at the back of the hotel.

What are staff doing if there’s not work?

    • Upskilling whilst still being paid
    • Maintaining the property
    • Helping to campaign on multiple levels

What have we done to cut costs?

  • We closed Sugar Spa and Yoga Space to save rent
  • We closed half the hotel to save on electricity
  • We did firesales on stock like yoga mats
  • We negotiated rent relief which has now run out
  • We have re-worked rostering to have some staff living on site
  • We have reduced electricity
  • We have negotiated slower payments on outstanding bills
  • Owners not taking salaries
  • Managers on reduced wages

Breakdown of expenses

GoFundMe Appeal

How much value will my donation provide?

Media Coverage

  • We have been featured in The Telegraph, on Medium, on a Fulbright scholar’s incredible blog and in The Khmer Times about what we have been doing to try to survive this.
  • Links here

Economic Context

  • Whereas we would normally expect to be at 50 – 70% occupancy, the number of tourists is probably 1% of what it normally is.
  • We are forced to lower our prices to much lower than we normally would, due to the competition. That’s what we all (hotels) have to do.
  • Those who remain here, have less money to spend. Not as many people can spend money on food and beverage, staycations as we’d hoped.
  • Our fixed costs remain the same. Electricity is extremely expensive and we get no discount or consideration for the difficulty of paying.
  • Our suppliers, of course, must still charge the same prices. The price of apples doesn’t change.
  • The OTAs who largely control the hotel booking industry have done nothing to help, their only advice is to drop prices and give them more commission.
  • In Australia, the main airline has announced it will not do international flights until March 2021.
  • International flights into Siem Reap have been grounded, and only a few routes are still actively taking passengers in and out of the country.
  • In the USA, where the majority of our visitors come from, citizens are dealing with a massive pandemic and cannot travel here.
  • Here in Cambodia, a quarantine fee is preventing travellers from visiting
  • Globally, the world is reeling from the crisis.
  • According to the IMF, Southeast Asian economic growth is now forecast at ZERO for 2020. As Cambodia is behind the furthest in terms of development, this will really hit hard here. We are working very hard to ensure that the people who work with us will not suffer. We are waiting for our New Normal to be revealed! We hope that with time that will become clear. While we’re still concerned about COVID, cases have been confined to quarantine, being brought into the country by returning migrant workers but being very well contained.

Keeping our team and guests healthy

  • We have gone back to fortnightly health briefings for our team, but hygiene and health remains a concern and we plan to continue doing refreshers and reminders as long as the virus remains a threat.

Owner Salaries

  • We are not taking salaries from fundraising. All funds will be put into making sure the business survives.