Incorporating The Values Of Gross National Happiness Into Bhutan’s Hospitality Sector


High-end hotels like Six Senses and Zhiwa Ling have come up with their own ways to incorporate the tenets of GNH and sustainability practices into their services.

(Source: Facebook/Six Senses Bhutan)


By Esori Waglay Kuensel

When it comes to matters concerning the incorporation of Gross National Happiness (GNH) principles to achieve sustainability, it does not matter if it is a five-star hotel with high-end facilities or a three-star hotel.

General Manager of Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro, Brent Hyde said that everything has to do with the philosophy that rules the hotel’s guiding principle.

This issue was discussed during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission Meeting held in Thimphu on 3 June 2019.


Graphic: Centre for Bhutan Studies and Gross National Happiness


High-end hotels like Six Senses and Zhiwa Ling have come up with their own ways to incorporate the tenets of GNH and sustainability practices into their services.

How Six Senses Hotel in Bhutan harnessed the values of GNH

The Vice President of Sustainability with Six Senses Hotel, Jeffery Smith said that with the hotel’s vision to reconnect people, it was easy to translate sustainability practices into the hotel’s activities.

Essentially, sustainability lies at the core of the hotel’s guiding principle. Thus, the hotel focuses on the well-being of the local community and environment.

Some examples of sustainable practices which the hotel has carried out include bottling all the water the hotel requires in glass bottles. This can potentially eliminate over a million plastic bottles a year.

Taking a holistic approach to work, the Human Resource section works on making employees happy. Here they are not referred to as employees but as hosts of the hotel.

The ‘hosts’ are made to take a wellness survey through which the happiness of the workers inside the property is ensured.

Jeffery Smith also added that the hotel’s practice of sustainability extended beyond the hotel’s property.


Source: Youtube/Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas


To protect the local eco-system and communities and to add more value to it, a funding mechanism is in place.

The hotel sets aside a certain percentage of its budget for projects such as re-forestation, habitat and wildlife conservation as well as afforestation.

In addition, a certain proportion of the hotel’s fund is also invested in local education. Villages nearby are the beneficiaries because this is where the hotel’s host families go to school and where the hotel’s future hosts will come from.

“We do not want to invest in projects we have no connection to,” he said.

How Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Bhutan harnessed the values of GNH

On the other hand, Zhiwa Ling has its own approach to applying GNH principles and ensuring sustainability.


Source: Facebook/Zhiwa Ling Heritage Hotel


According to Brent Hyde, the hotel hired local people from the local communities. By doing so, it is investing in a team of people who are aware of their culture and tradition, thereby promoting GNH values.

“By investing in a management team of just Bhutanese people, we are investing in the values of GNH,” Brent Hyde said.

Moreover, investing in local management team has yielded better results. Brent Hyde mentioned that all hotels should practice sustainability, as it is important and doable.

“As long as the domains of GNH are followed, you will have sustainable hotels driven by the principles of GNH,” he said.

Echoing his view, Jeffery smith also felt that if any business did not adopt a sustainable approach, it will be a ‘short-sighted’ business.


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


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