Ritz debuts Give Back Getaways program | VailDaily.com

Ritz debuts Give Back Getaways program

Daily Staff ReportsVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado Guests at The Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world can volunteer their time to improve and assist the local community where they are vacationing. The program, called Give Back Getaways, offers guests a variety of opportunities from helping to protect endangered sea turtles in Cancun, Mexico, to helping with renovations and landscaping at the Childrens Hospice Sonnenhof, which offers support for children with critical illnesses in Berlin.Give Back Getaways is the most recent opportunity to volunteer under Community Footprints, The Ritz-Carlton social and environmental responsibility program. We have come to recognize the interest many of our guests have in becoming more involved in the region where they are spending their vacation. Many of them are active volunteers in worthwhile activities at home and want to continue this spirit of giving when they visit other parts of the world, said Simon F. Cooper, The Ritz-Carltons president and chief operating officer. We believe Give Back Getaways is a unique way for our hotels to partner with guests to provide an experience both memorable and personally enriching.The employees at each Ritz-Carlton hotel were challenged to identify an organization or cause in need of support in their community. They then partnered with the group to prioritize needs for hands-on assistance and scheduled dates throughout the year when Give Back Getaways will be offered. From building a library for the young children of migrant workers at the Dandelion School in Beijing to serving as a spotter and mapping the location of endangered Blue Iguanas in Grand Cayman, each of the programs offered will include instruction by professionals so participants can make a meaningful contribution to the project they select to participate in as a volunteer for the half-day program. All profits from the half-day programs will be donated to the partner organization.

Visitors to Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek will work with children from SOS Outreach at a hand-picked community program. SOS Outreach was founded in 1993 in the Vail Valley to help disadvantaged youth develop important life skills through snow sports, mentoring and a curriculum based on the five core values of the program: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion. SOS Outreach shares many of the same values of The Ritz-Carlton, said Steven Holt, director of public relations for The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. The Give Back Getaways program allows guests to share the SOS Outreach experience firsthand while allowing us to deepen our commitment to this amazing local organization.Guests will work side-by-side with the children at an activity such as a build day with Habitat for Humanity or maintaining a national-forest trail. SOS Outreach is excited to partner with The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch to enhance our participants year-round experience, said Arn Menconi, founder and executive director of SOS Outreach.

In Denver, with the guidance of the Wildlands Restoration Volunteer Project, guests will be assigned to specific areas on designated days to participate in eco-friendly activities such as restoring wetlands; planting seeds and trees; installing erosion, drainage and fencing systems and clearing invasive weeds. From Saturday through Sept. 17, specific sites will be selected, including the Spring Brook Trail in the foothills and the new St. Vrain State Park. At The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, guests will join a biologist from the Cancun Department of Ecology to help protect mother turtles during nesting and to help them return safely to the sea. Guests will head out at night to search for nesting turtles, gather sea-turtle eggs and bring them to a safer location at turtle camps where they can be buried without interfering with their natural cycle. Employees at the resort have been involved in this project for longer than a decade. Additional Give Back Getaways include cooking and serving meals at the North Texas Food Bank, restoring homes in the ancient water town of Wuzhen, China, planting native Cyprus trees in the dwindling wetland forests of the Florida Everglades and building homes with Habitat for Humanity in Jakarta, Indonesia; and New Orleans. Guests are able to check availability of the programs in advance of their stay by accessing the Give Back Getaways page on http://www.ritzcarlton.com and http://www.givebackgetaways.com. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. operates 70 hotels in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. More than 30 projects are under way with openings planned for Sanya and Shenzhen, China, and Rancho Mirage, Calif., in 2008. For more information, contact The Ritz-Carlton toll-free reservations at 800-241-3333, call your travel consultant or visit http://www.ritzcarlton.com.

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