Voluntourism: High-End Comfort and Meaningful Experiences

In a time when people can’t wait to go on a much-needed getaway, it’s quite interesting that travelers are also starting to have this heavier sense of responsibility. New catchphrases such as ethical travel and carbon footprint have already become part of the modern travel lexicon.

It also resulted in the collective desire to lend a helping hand to those who were hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting them to bounce back to their feet, particularly those in favorite destinations.

However, although the attitudes of society towards stuff such as single-use plastics might already be clear-cut, there is lingering confusion and misconception around the concept of luxury voluntourism. After all, how can helping people in need or humanitarianism be anything other than ethical?

What is luxury voluntourism?

Luxury voluntourism is a form of tourism where luxury travelers get a chance to take part in voluntary work, usually for charity. The desire to help others is at the very core of voluntourism. 

There are now numerous companies that claim to make it easier than ever for travelers to combine volunteer time with their current trip, allowing them to experience the convenient offering of voluntourism.

Although there are lots of programs that raise eyebrows, such as those that come with steep fees with little to no details on where the money goes, a lot of luxury travelers nurse the hope that there are still several forms of the practice that continue to do good, specifically those where the companies seem to have ditched the label but claimed the sentiment. However, net-gain voluntourism still feels more and more difficult to identify.

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While it’s only natural for there to be a place for more meaningful aid work, there is still a stark difference between voluntouring and traveling. As some people believe, it’s mainly because short-term volunteering for just a few days or weeks is often not enough time to do something else aside from boosting the traveler’s sense of purpose.

If you’re planning to engage in luxury voluntourism, here are some options that will let you combine meaningful experiences with high-end comfort.

Animal Protection

  • Costa Rica’s Crocodile Bay Resort

Guests at Crocodile Bay Resort can go on responsible wildlife adventures. Travelers get to give back to local environmental researchers and take part in adventures and eco-tours.

  • Watkins Glen, New York’s Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary is the best place to be for all voluntourists who love animals and wish to enjoy the beauty and peace of the region while giving back to the community.

  • Cancun, Mexico’s Panama Jack Cancun

The Turtle Protection Committee in Panama Jack Cancun ensures that the beaches are ready and in perfect condition for the animals’ nests. The committee leads activities such as beach cleanups, ecology courses, and more.

Community Advocacy and Educational Outreach

  • AKA White House

Washington, DC’s AKA White House donated furniture worth two floors to Habitat for Humanity, a global non-profit organization that helps families who need better housing and supports the development of better lives.

  • Charleston, South Carolina’s French Quarter Inn

The lobby of the charming boutique hotel has a “take a book, leave a book” sign that features curated selections of contemporary books penned by local authors that emphasize the Lowcountry’s way of life.

  • Baha Mar, Bahamas’ Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
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Guests at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar can join the Pack with Love program, where vacationers are encouraged to bring an item they can share with victims of Hurricane Dorian.

  • Montego Bay, Jamaica’s Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Rose Hall

Visitors to this all-inclusive hall can volunteer in the Granville 404 Project together with the Granville All-Age School’s staff to help enhance the condition of the building and meet with St. James’ local children.

  • Jicaro, Nicaragua’s Jicaro Island Lodge

As one of the sustainable luxury resorts in the Cayuga Collection, the Jicaro Island Lodge has a special program that makes use of solar panels to offer clean water and energy to a local school.

  • Multiple Locations of Study Hotels

Since Study Hotels have been deeply integrated into the campuses of several of the United States’ most acclaimed universities, the brand celebrates National Reading Month with a series of programs that focus on literacy and philanthropy.

Environmental Preservation

  • AKA

Considered the leader in terms of luxury hotel residences, AKA urges its residents to give back and offer environmental support through its enduring partnership with the global sustainability leader Clean the World.

  • Aqua-Aston Hospitality

Aqua-Aston Hospitality hosts over 5.5 million guests annually, recognizing its distinct position to develop a platform for more positive change as they roll out the public awareness campaign #ForOurReef to educate the public and guests on reef-safe sunscreen alternatives. #ShareTheAloha is another pay-it-forward campaign that encourages guests to refuse single-use plastics and opt for reef-safe sunscreen instead.

  • Club Med Miches, Playa Esmeralda
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Guests at the all-inclusive and new eco-chic Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda can have a hands-on chance to learn more about composting, recycling, and planting at the community garden on the site, which uses local ingredients and teaches guests how to prepare the world for a better future.

  • La Romana, the Dominican Republic’s Hilton La Romana

Now and then, Hilton La Romana names a standout employee who struggles to provide for their family, giving them a brand new house constructed from the ground up in a secure neighborhood close to the property.

  • Islamorada, Florida’s Moorings Village

The Moorings Village, located on what was once a coconut plantation, lost some of the coconut trees because of Hurricane Irma and is in the process of re-establishing its verdant beachside gardens. Those who wish to give back and help reconstruct the plantation can choose a spot for greenery and then plant it in the ground.

  • The Spectator Hotel

The Spectator Hotel guests can enjoy a good night’s sleep knowing that their food items that weren’t consumed fully, such as pastries and fruit, will never go to waste at all.


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