Hotel gives back through bicycles

Hotel gives back through bicycles

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Pola Chhem, 14, tries out her new wheels.

Bike Aid has come to Siem Reap, and almost 400 young locals will soon be pedalling their way to a better education thanks to a scheme devised by Hotel de la Paix and Mastercard.

The credit card company donated a bicycle for every room paid for by Mastercard at the hotel between September 1 and December 31 last year.

General Manager Nick Downing said the project was to give children greater freedom to get around town and cycle to school. On behalf of their guests, the hotel donated 397 bicycles, he said.

The 12 organisations receiving the bicycles, mainly orphanages and schools, were chosen based on the benefit the bicycles would have on the work they did with children or teenagers.

Many of the schools were in rural areas where children had to walk for up to an hour simply to get to school for their lessons.

Downing said the response had been rewarding, with the children testing out the bicycles as soon as they received them.

The idea was originally conceived when an employee of MasterCard Singapore stayed at the hotel and saw how it allowed guests to make donations towards community projects, such as buying rice for orphanages or assisting in their Sewing Training Centre Programme, which gives women the skills to set up their own business.

Downing said Mastercard perceived a synergy between the hotel's community work and its international social responsibility programme, Purchase with a Purpose.

"Mastercard asked, how can they make an impact?" he said. "It was not about driving business but about the Purchase with a Purpose programme. This was a very easy way for guests to participate in the community."

Guest Relationship Manager Andrea Everhardt said guests responded positively, often opting to use their Mastercard after reading about the project in the welcome brochure.

Negotiations were under way with MasterCard to revisit the project this year, and it has agreed to sponsor 10 of the 20 students on the hotel's 10-month sewing programme.

The hotel's philanthropic pursuits also helped earn it a glowing two-page review in the July issue of American Express's Travel + Leisure magazine.

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