SOURCE: The Ritz Carlton

March 21, 2008 14:52 ET

"Give Back Getaways" to Be Launched by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company April 1; Program Offers Travelers the Chance to Volunteer Their Time to Local Groups Dedicated to Child Welfare, Feeding the Hungry, Preserving the Environment

CHEVY CHASE, MD--(Marketwire - March 21, 2008) - Beginning April 1, 2008, guests at Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts 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 Children-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," explained Simon F. Cooper, 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," he added.

The employees at each Ritz-Carlton 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.

At The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, guests will join a biologist from the Cancun Department of Ecology for rewarding hands-on experience protecting mother turtles during nesting and helping 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 over a decade and are very proud that the program has been expanded to include guests in this critical mission.

Visitors to Berlin can roll up their sleeves, don their work gloves and accompany hotel staff from The Ritz-Carlton as they launch a spring cleanup of the SONNENHOF facilities for children with serious illnesses. Throughout the year other "Give Back Getaway" programs will be scheduled including planting trees in the garden, renovating the petting zoo and cooking at an August "Children's Day" barbecue to entertain and feed the youngsters and hospice staff.

Other "Give Back Getaways" include cooking and serving meals at the North Texas Food Bank, helping restore homes in the ancient water town of Wuzhen, China, planting coconut palms and native vegetables at SOS Children's Villages, Jamaica, and building homes with Habitat for Humanity in Jakarta, Indonesia and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Beginning April 1, 2008, guests will be able to check availability of the programs in advance of their stay by accessing the "Give Back Getaways" page on and

"Even if people have never volunteered in their home communities before, we believe 'Give Back Getaways' offers a new personal vacation experience which can be memorable and rewarding," explained Simon Cooper.

"The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has always been committed to the support of local charities and causes and our ladies and gentlemen have donated tens of thousands of hours of paid time and their own time to organizations in their neighborhoods. Our employees around the world worked for months to develop the 'Give Back Getaways' offerings and are immensely proud to have the opportunity to share the soul of our company with our guests," explained Sue Stephenson, Vice President, Community Footprints. "We believe extending this opportunity to our guests to participate in sharing their time and their skills is a fine example of 'voluntourism' in the hospitality industry."

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. of Chevy Chase, Md. (USA) currently operates 70 hotels in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Over 30 projects are currently underway with openings planned for Sanya, Shenzhen and Rancho Mirage in 2008. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is the only hospitality company to have twice earned the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which recognizes outstanding customer service. For more information contact The Ritz-Carlton toll free reservations at 1 (800) 241-3333, your travel consultant or visit

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Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Vivian Deuschl
    Corporate Vice President, Public Relations
    4445 Willard Avenue, Suite 800
    Chevy Chase, Md. 20815
    Tel: (703) 941-6225
    Fax: (703) 941-7492
    Cell: (202) 255-5786
    Email: Email Contact