Pimalai’s Rak Lanta: Sustainable Stewardship for Thai Jewel

Pimalai’s Rak Lanta: Sustainable Stewardship for Thai Jewel
June 20, 2018 Bradley Cox


It is Pimalai’s belief that their success as a leading resort in Thailand is partly based on their goal of preserving a safe and healthy environment for the people of Koh Lanta as well as visiting guests. As such, every detail from the selection of the resort’s location, to the design of the grounds and construction of the facilities, was planned and executed with the goal of complementing, not competing with the original natural environment. Pimalai endeavours to stay true to this belief and in doing so will always be able to offer guests genuine comfort and solace from the hustle and bustle of life.

“Pimalai’s Rak Lanta” Project was initiated to enforce the stated belief of creating awareness around the importance of preserving Koh Lanta’s natural environment. Pimalai’s vision is to be accepted as a role model by local communities as well as foreign visitors in order to maintain Koh Lanta as a special sanctuary. The Project provides knowledge and support for local community groups by actively supplying information on waste management issues concentrating on two major topics: the preservation and enhancement of native forests; and the restoration of underwater coral damaged by human activities via coral propagation.

 Framework & Strategy

Over the past decade, Koh Lanta has seen a substantial increase in the number of tourist arrivals on the island. An outcome of this growth is the stress imposed on waste management which is now becoming a major issue due to the lack of a suitable landfill facility together with limited resources from local authorities to manage the problem. Being part of the Koh Lanta community Pimalai upholds its moral and social obligations and is committed to supporting initiatives to preserve Koh Lanta’s natural environment, as well as making it a sustainable tourist destination, bringing positive benefits to local communities. To ensure the success of the “Rak Lanta” Project, Pimalai’s strategy is to get involved with local community members including those employed by dive shops, school students, local authorities, national park wardens and resort operators by promoting environmentally friendly waste management practices, for example, using waste separation in order to reduce, reuse and where possible recycle waste.

Pimalai has also initiated its own green team and have sought advice from invited guests who are experts in the field such as those participating with Ocean Quest. This is a marine conservation organization founded by Anuar Abdullah and other marine biologists to help organize training and offer stimulating activities to create awareness of the need to protect and/or restore existing forests and protect coral reefs from further degradation especially in areas designated as marine national parks. Included is a special effort to participate in underwater garbage collection and coral propagation.

Pimalai Resort & Spa: “Fall asleep to the whispers of the waves and wake up each morning to nature’s calming breeze. Away from the traffic and vendors, the sun, sea, and sky is all yours. It’s the reason Pimalai is Koh Lanta’s best kept secret, one that’s just too tempting not to share.

With 100 acres of tropical vegetation, direct access to 900 meters of pristine sandy beach, Pimalai brings you the closest you will ever be to nature’s glorious splendor. Located away from other resorts and the hectic buzz of tourism on Koh Lanta, guests are free to relax and rejuvenate in their rooms and villas, right within the heart of nature.” 

Achievement & Impact

As a result of promoting and providing waste bins and garbage storage facilities around Kantiang beach, garbage is now properly disposed of in a designated area improving the scenery and reducing the amount of water-borne garbage deposited on the beach. Pimalai has helped local communities, shop owners and resort operators to separate garbage in a systematic manner so non-decomposable materials can be recycled.

Pimalai is educating school students on waste separation programs and provided each school with 5 sets of bins with clear labelling to simplify waste separation. Moreover, the resort plans to set up a “cage” where students can deposit plastic bottles. The “cage” will be emptied each week by a company that will pay for the plastic, providing additional income to the school to spend on necessary items.

Pimalai has also educated students in Koh Lanta on how to protect the environment by working with the National Park Authority by helping in a reforestation initiative where over 1,000 trees have already been planted. The promotion of garbage collection both on land and underwater is also been accepted by school students with the added effect that they help promote these programs with their parents and siblings. Together with the Thai Fishery Department, Pimalai orchestrated a 12 years program for the rehabilitation of the clownfish species at the stunning Koh Haa archipelago, located just a few miles away west of the resort. (Incidentally, the resort scooped the AREA 2012 award, for this initiative).

Pimalai has since embarked on a new exciting conservation initiative under the name of “Pimalai Coral Propagation”. The Resort, in conjunction with Ocean Quest, has been working closely with the Koh Lanta and Trang National Parks to ensure that the project is successful and can be a role model to propagate corals in other regions of Thailand. The project has been going for 2 years and involves more than 20 dive shops around the island as well as including some participation by some of our resort guests. This initiative starts with growing coral in a nursery then relocating the adolescent coral from the nursery to a suitable site near Koh Haa Island. Measurements indicate successful growth of the coral has been observed.

Future Direction

Pimalai has a future plan to expand the “Rak Lanta” Project to all 14 schools in Koh Lanta Yai, Lanta Noi and Koh Por in 2018 and will continue to monitor their progress with quarterly meetings among school teachers to share results and benchmark best practices. Future projects in addition to waste separation are to transfer Pimalai waste management skills on waste decomposition so schools can make their own fertilizer to grow food crops for use in their school.

The resort is now embarking on an exciting new initiative to tackle plastic garbage pollution, a major waste management issue, and plan to launch a “Say No to Plastic Bags and Foam” program in order to reduce plastic consumption, which is a major waste management issue in Koh Lanta and beyond.

Pimalai will continue with its coral reforestation initiative and will monitor the evolution at the underwater coral nursery and continue further coral propagation in Koh Haa and other islands nearby which have suitable sites for coral growth.