Minimizing our negative impact on the culturally and ecologically sensitive areas where we work is a central tenet of Shakti’s philosophy.
As well as making a direct contribution ourselves, we encourage our guests to support our approach and values whilst staying with us.
We believe that, in this way, we can all support each other in securing the future of these sublime regions and their inhabitants. Shakti’s positive contribution to the local communities, environment and economy are carefully considered and implemented. Here are some of the ways in which we work.
We have hired most of our staff locally and have supported their personal and professional development with training on a variety of aspects of hospitality. Providing employment in these remote areas supports the local economy, but in addition, our staff work to support local community welfare.
We purchase as much of our food, materials and general supplies locally. For every dollar spent by our guests as much as 45 cents remains in the local economy supporting local crafts and occupations, the remainder remains in India. We are committed to working with our local communities to support the local economy and by generating direct income to the villagers without compromising their lifestyle and way of living. This means they do not need to resort to high volume, high impact tourism that would degrade their environment and way of life.
Buildings & Infrastructure
According to the location, we either commission new buildings that leave only the lightest footprint on their setting or we breathe new life into existing, traditional village houses.
We have incorporated local building techniques and styles for our mountain camp, Shakti 360° Leti. The “dry-stack stone wall” is the traditional method of construction in the area - we have revived these skilled techniques practiced by few specialist families in the area, by incorporating them into the construction of our camp.
We use sustainable sources (principally solar) to provide 100 percent of our electricity supply at Shakti 360° Leti. In our village houses and office we use a combination of electricity supply, solar lamps, and candles.
Any waste from our properties is separated with food waste being used as animal feed in the locality. There is no recycling infrastructure in the areas that we operate but, where available, our non recyclable waste is sorted and provided for recycling. In addition to our no litter policy for staff and guests, we are involved in the collection of litter and working with villagers to reduce litter.
In order to respect local customs, we ask any guests who may wish to offer gifts or money, to do so through a dedicated fund. 100% of guest contributions received in this way go to recipients, in a way that reflects local needs, customs and value systems. We have recently created a dedicated Trust Fund to enable a proportion of Shakti revenues and any guest or third party donations to be used to support local projects and development.
Support of local cultures
The areas in which we operate have very strong dance traditions and in each location we have actively supported these traditions, both by including performances in all our guest activities, but also with financial support for costumes, training and transportation. We have helped set up and support a local dance group of traditional Kumaoni dancers. We include a performance in all our trips and this has helped to sustain their skill, as well as train younger members.
Each of our operations is on a very small scale – and while that limits the number of guests we can receive, we prefer it that way, so we don’t impose ourselves too much on our surroundings, the local communities and resources. Our approach is designed to balance the benefits of local tourism with the ability of guests to experience the very remote and unusual locations in which we operate.
In all the regions that we operate water is a scarce resource even in those areas where there are mountains and glaciers and an apparent abundance of water. To reduce our water consumption we have installed grey water reuse systems in our new houses to reduce water consumption through bathroom usage. One of our houses in Kumaon is believed to be the first of its type to have such a system in the Himalaya.