About The Datai Pledge
We believe that travel has the potential to be transformative; not only for the traveller but also for the host community. The Datai Pledge was created on the premise of protecting the biodiversity and supporting the local community of Langkawi, for today and the future. For our guests, we aim to create educational experiences that inspire and uphold our collective role in responsible living on a wider global level.
The Langkawi archipelago off Malaysia’s northwest coast is made up of 99 islands, although only three including the main island are inhabited. The island’s 500-million-year-old geological formation and rich biodiversity resulted in Langkawi achieving geopark status in 2007 from UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network. Although regarded as a green tourist’s heaven, the island’s precious assets are under threat, due largely to unsustainable anthropogenic activity. We are committed to addressing this through The Datai Pledge programme of conservation, sustainability and regeneration initiatives.
To integrate conservation and sustainability into the business operations, company ethos and guest experience of The Datai Langkawi and future properties, in order to protect and help regenerate the rich biodiversity and enable the local community to thrive. We aim to do this through developing a robust programme in conjunction with our local NGO and social enterprise partners.
To be an active instigator for sustainable change and regenerative travel through:
- Protection and conservation of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
- Implementing effective conservation programmes based on scientific research and established data.
- Empowering the local community to become passionate guardians of their own surroundings through co-creating purpose-driven education programmes, and promoting sustainable livelihoods and enterprises.
- Aiding and amplifying the work of NGOs and social enterprises who share our vision to achieve our collective goals.
- Collaborating with like-minded partners to fully utilise our combined expertise and communicate our programme.
- Instilling a culture of shared and continuous learning amongst all stakeholders.
In September 2020, The Datai Pledge was established as a Private Trust with the following objectives:
- To actively seek guests’ participation in sustainability initiatives and leverage this as part of the overall guest experience.
- To introduce innovative sustainability practices through integrating the hotel’s business operations with nature conservation.
- To help fund relevant Malaysian, and particularly Langkawi-based NGOs and social enterprises in their work to promote sustainability and conservation.
- To inspire and assist the local community in preserving the unique biodiversity of the island, through the promotion of sustainable practices as a source of income and a way of life.
Environment and Wildlife:
- To strengthen the natural beauty and unique environment of Datai Bay and Langkawi through the conservation and regeneration of fauna and flora and their habitats.
- To pioneer specific sustainable and ecotourism activities in the luxury hotel industry.
- To demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, conservation and ecotourism using the ecosystems at the resort as a platform for research, training and collaboration.
The Board of Trustees, the Pillar Leaders as well as the Advisors who support and work tirelessly behind the scenes for The Datai Pledge.
Advisor, The Datai Pledge | Sustainability Editor, Condé Nast Traveller | Founder, Bouteco
For Condé Nast Traveller magazine’s first-ever Sustainability Editor, and Founder of Bouteco (a portmanteau of boutique and eco), there's nothing more inspiring than researching and sharing stories of positive impact.
Three decades as a journalist and a broadcaster, visiting the world’s most special places, has given Juliet Kinsman an unrivalled understanding of which of the world’s best hotels are most eco-friendly. Founding editor of Mr & Mrs Smith and an author of Louis Vuitton City Guides, to Juliet the real meaning of luxury is spending time in beautiful environments, which work hard to do environmental and social good. Her 2020 book ‘The Green Edit: Travel, Easy Tips for the Eco-Friendly Traveller’ is the ideal guide to making travel a stronger force for good.
As ambassador, Juliet is excited to raise awareness around our sustainability initiatives and showcase The Datai Pledge as a case study for how a luxury hospitality business can model positive-impact practices. Having met with Piet and Mark at the start of the permaculture journey, and been on industry panel discussions with Irshad, she is eager for more share in their expertise and knowledge. Appreciating the power of tourism to educate about conservation, Juliet hopes that by helping us open source our practices and partnerships, we can inspire more businesses to host guests in a way that does good for both people and planet.
Chief Advisor, The Datai Pledge | Head Naturalist, The Datai Langkawi
The Datai Pledge is led by Irshad Mobarak, The Datai Langkawi’s Head Naturalist. Irshad is one of Malaysia’s most celebrated naturalists with over 24 years of experience in the field.
Irshad left a career in banking at Maybank for a calling in natural history. Throughout his career, Irshad has appeared in and contributed to many nature documentaries and insights for Discovery Channel, National Geographic as well as the BBC and TED Talks. Most recently, Irshad authored a nature guide as well as hosted a mini documentary series, both titled ‘Discovering Langkawi with Irshad Mobarak’. Irshad also owns a nature excursions company, JungleWalla.
Acting as guardian of Langkawi’s natural beauty, Irshad is active in his conservation, preservation and education initiatives and regularly provides lectures on sustainable tourism. His contribution to the preservation of Langkawi was honoured in 2007 with the ‘Amazing Malaysian Award’.
PIET VAN ZYL
Advisor, The Datai Pledge | Sustainability and Closed-loop Specialist, Positive Impact Forever
Piet has been a hospitality industry sustainability practitioner since 1993, specialising in energy, water and waste optimisation.
Well-versed in international environmental management and professional standards, Piet is an EarthCheck Certified Auditor and Design Accredited Professional. He is passionate about inspiring people to have a positive impact on their environment and believes that there is always a better way to do things.
Piet began working with The Datai Langkawi in December 2017 during the resort’s renovations. With the target of zero waste to the landfill, many initiatives were realised including the Permaculture Garden for growing vegetables, fruits and herbs whilst taking care of organic waste; the Sorting Centre to separate waste and make it valuable; a water bottling plant; and The Lab, where guests can experience different ways to upcycle waste materials.
Advisor, The Datai Pledge | Permaculture Expert, Mark Garrett Permaculture
Mark Garrett is a permaculture lover and passionate about living harmoniously with nature.
He has dedicated his life’s work to creating low cost, sustainable ecosystems that benefit both the planet and the people who live and work in them. By observing nature and understanding how it operates, he creates low-carbon systems where energy is conserved by removing the need for fossil fuel. In this process, waste is turned into a useful resource, water is saved and re-used, vital minerals and nutrients in the soil are naturally regenerated and pests are controlled without using harmful chemicals.
These principles are the basic building blocks of permaculture and Mark has applied them to every project he has designed for more than 25 years. For The Datai Pledge, Mark designed the Permaculture Garden and provided training and guidance on permaculture principles to the resort’s team.
Advisor, The Datai Pledge | ‘GreenMan’ Eco-speaker and Environmental Consultant
Matthias Gelber is a professional speaker and trainer on environmental and sustainability issues.
Hailing from Burbach-Lippe, a small German village surrounded by a vast forest, he developed a strong connection with nature from a young age and has been a passionate advocate of green living ever since. In 2008, he was voted the ‘Greenest Person on the Planet’ and currently lives in Malaysia, where he founded Eco Warriors Malaysia, a community movement focused on taking positive action to combat climate change.
Matthias has been a keen supporter of The Datai Pledge by training and educating the team through inspirational talks and advice on environmental and sustainability issues, with the belief that everyone needs to live in harmony with nature to preserve and treasure it for years to come.
Pure For The Future
Growing up in Paris before leaving to study in Malaysia and working at The Datai Langkawi, Remi rose up the ranks to become Quality Control and Improvement Manager. At the resort, Remi is responsible for ensuring all departments adhere to and meet the quality and standards set, which includes inspecting the largest frameworks of the resort down to its smallest details. With his passion and commitment to the environment, Remi has also been appointed to lead all sustainability operations within the resort, many of which have been groundbreaking for the hospitality industry in the region. This includes reusing, reducing, recycling and upcycling waste through many new initiatives at The Garden, The Lab and Bottling Plant that are all located within The Datai Langkawi – which groomed him to become the perfect leader for Pure For The Future.
Fish For The Future
Siva has been in the field of marine conservation since 2012. Born in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Siva fell in love with the ocean from his very first visit at 11 years old. Beginning his career as a scuba diver at the oceanarium Aquaria KLCC, then moving on to turtle and coral reef conservation, Siva has also been involved in community engagement and field work. Connecting the science of conservation and people is one of Siva’s passions, and as a full time marine biologist at The Datai Langkawi since 2019, Siva is able to realise his dream every day by learning, researching and sharing his knowledge and experience with people from all over the world. As the pillar leader for Fish For The Future, Siva aspires to make Teluk Datai conducive for nesting turtles as it was so many years before and continue the work and conservation foundation laid out by former marine biologist and pillar leader, Nicole Lim.
Wildlife For The Future
Even from a young age, Dev has always been passionate about nature, birds, trees and particularly orchids. Citing Chief Advisor, Irshad Mobarak, as one of his main inspirations, Dev brings his philosophy ‘just get real, do work’ to the industry with his pure heart; always ready to contribute for the care of the environment. Dev gained his work experience as a Naturalist from Irshad and was also trained by world-renowned Dr Bernard D’ Abrera, an English entomological taxonomist and philosopher of science. Dev’s Adventure Tours is a Langkawi-based eco-friendly company that he co-founded with a great team of nature guides, that has received rave reviews from travellers local and abroad alike. In 2009, Dev met the late Sultan Ahmad Shah, the former ruler of Pahang, who invited him to be part of his environmental initiative, the Sultan Ahmad Shah Environment Trust. Counting among his many achievements there was the planting of 290,000 trees in 10 years. Dev was also instrumental in the creation of the Sultan Ahmad Shah Wildlife Sanctuary, where 1,600 acres of land were transformed into a wildlife haven. With this wealth of experience and joining the team at The Datai Langkawi as The Nature Centre Manager, Dev looks forward to leading and growing the Wildlife For The Future programme with Irshad and the nature team, previously nurtured by Shakira Mobarak.
Youth For The Future
Born in Penang, Johan joined the hospitality industry at the tender age of 18 years old and rose up the career ladder with the help of good guidance from responsible leadership. This instilled in him the importance of investing in human capital. His first job was at the Petaling Jaya Hilton as the Personnel and Training Clerk. Since then, he has never looked back and has continued to grow and regenerate even in the face of adversity. Armed with a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Derby (UK), Johan has held various positions in Human Resources as well as been entrusted with the role of Resort Manager at an international hotel chain from 2012 to 2014, before returning back to the field he is most passionate about – human capital development. The forever young at heart Johan has been leading The Datai Langkawi’s Human Resources Department since 2014 and has been the Pillar Leader of Youth For The Future since its inception in 2019.
TAN SRI AMIRSHAM A. AZIZ
Tan Sri Amirsham was appointed as Chairman of Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn Bhd on March 2015, where he served till December 2020.
He began his career with Maybank Group in 1977 where he held various senior positions. He served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Maybank for a period of 14 years from 1994 to 2008. He was appointed a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department on March 2008 in charge of the Economic Planning Unit and the Department of Statistics until April 2009. He served as the Chairman of the National Economic Advisory Council from June 2009 to May 2011. He is currently the Chairman of RAM Holdings Berhad and RAM Rating Services Berhad. He is also a member of the Board of Wearnes-StarChase Limited in Singapore and serves as a Non-Executive Director at Hap Seng Plantations Holdings Berhad.
Arnaud Girodon, General Manager of The Datai Langkawi, joined the resort in 2014, bringing with him nearly 20 years of experience.
Beginning his hospitality career in the United Kingdom, he subsequently spent seven years in Dubai at the Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Resort and Al Murooj Rotana Hotel and Suites. This was followed by an 8-year stint in Thailand and Vietnam for the InterContinental Group. His 8 years of leadership at The Datai Langkawi included the 12-month closure of the resort for its first major refurbishment in its 25-year history. A few months after the opening in 2018, The Datai Pledge, his brainchild, was soft-launched.
Stephanie Saw was appointed Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn Bhd on 2 April 2019. Prior to her appointment, she was a Director in the Investments Division of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. She began her career with the Renong Berhad group and held various positions in operational and strategic financial control, corporate affairs and portfolio management. She then worked in strategy and corporate finance advisory and project management before branching out as a food and beverage entrepreneur in 2004. She returned to finance and investment by joining Khazanah Nasional Berhad in 2007. As Group MD & CEO of a key hospitality group in Malaysia, Stephanie has been resolute in her focus on aligning commercial strategies and operational initiatives with sustainability.
Karina is Director, Group Business Services at Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn Bhd (TAR&H). She oversees a portfolio of Group functions including Legal, Secretarial, Risk as well as Human Capital. Karina joined Destination Resorts and Hotels Sdn Bhd (DRH), which subsequently merged with Themed Attractions Resorts Sdn Bhd to become TAR&H, in May 2011 as Senior Vice President, Legal & Secretarial and was promoted to Director, Legal & Secretarial in June 2013. She started her career with Petronas and has spent more than 16 years working in legal and finance as well as intellectual property. Prior to joining DRH, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Dewan Philharmonic Petronas and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
LYNETTE YEOW SU-YIN
Lynette Yeow was a director of Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn Bhd, from 27 March 2015 to 31 December 2020. She has been a corporate lawyer since January 1995 and is a consultant at a law firm in Kuala Lumpur. Lynette is currently an independent non-executive director of Malaysia Building Society Berhad and of CTOS Digital Berhad and is also a board member of the Securities Commission Malaysia. Together with her husband, SC Shekar, Lynette believes that we can all play a part in protecting our planet and the communities within.
Selat Tuba (Straits of Tuba), Langkawi © SC Shekar
Pulau Ular (Snake Island), Langkawi © SC Shekar
Datai Bay, Langkawi © SC Shekar
Crystal Creek, Langkawi
Pulau Anak Datai (Anak Datai Island), Langkawi and Koh Tarutao, Thailand © William Watt
THE CONSCIOUS TRAVEL FOUNDATION
The Conscious Travel Foundation was established during the global pandemic in 2020 to champion the positive impact of the travel industry on global communities, cultures, wildlife and habitats – raising much-needed funds for grassroots charities and high-impact projects around the world.
The Datai Langkawi was accepted as a member of The Conscious Travel Foundation which will be immediately contributing to and benefiting The Datai Pledge. Their members-only community is a space to share ideas, foster new relationships with other like-minded industry professionals and gain access to some of the most inspiring, forward-thinking minds in travel. Together with The Datai Pledge, the aim is to promote and encourage the positive impact of the travel industry on the environment, protecting and conserving the planet for generations to come.
Founded in 2019, Regenerative Travel is a benefit corporation providing support services to a network of independently owned eco-luxury boutique hotels that are dedicated to the highest levels of social and environmental impact.
Through sharing individual best practices and through collaboration, Regenerative Travel enables the Regenerative Resorts hotel collection to work together to achieve significant economies of scale and to make a deeper impact.
Each Regenerative Resort is selected to join the collection based on their dedication to the highest levels of environmental and social impact. The hotels embody these standards: honours their locale, provides real hospitality that is authentic and respectful, is inclusive and egalitarian, operates responsibly and ethically, respects local and global ecosystems, communicates regenerative values and practices.
Regeneration is about ‘co-evolving’ with the local ecosystem to create economic benefit and abundance for a larger set of stakeholders around the properties. Fulfilling this criterion, including the creation of The Datai Pledge programme, led to The Datai Langkawi being accepted as a Founder Member of Regenerative Travel in 2020.
ROOTS & SHOOTS MALAYSIA
Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is a youth-led action programme aimed at young people and the young at heart of all ages.
The programme was founded in 1991 by renowned primatologist and environmental hero Dr Jane Goodall to promote the values of compassion and respect for all living things, as well as intercultural understanding and solidarity amongst all people. Roots & Shoots empowers young people to create positive change for people, animals and the environment, by providing them with the tools needed to initiate and lead projects that make a difference, with over 150,000 active groups in over 130 countries.
Roots & Shoots Malaysia was established in January 2015 to mark Dr Jane Goodall’s first visit to Malaysia. Since then, the programme has grown from strength to strength. In 2020, one of their flagship projects, the Roots & Shoots Malaysia Award, which has been continuously supported by Yayasan Hasanah (local foundation focused on creating long-term positive social and environmental change in Malaysia), enabled 53 youths from all over Malaysia to volunteer with 18 Malaysian NGOs and social enterprises, with more than 5,000 hours of volunteering work clocked in. Roots & Shoots Malaysia is proud to collaborate with The Datai Pledge to promote a greater awareness of our amazing biodiversity and the need to conserve it, as well as to initiate projects to make a positive impact on Malaysia’s wildlife, environment and human societies.
S.C. Shekar began his career as a photojournalist in the late 1970s, then moved on to specialise in editorial and architectural photography.
Although trained as a lawyer, this self-taught photographer has concentrated on socio-documentary photography projects around the world over the past three decades. He has focused on communities (orang asli in Malay), creating an unparalleled portfolio of pictures of their life as well as their struggles.
Shekar’s work has appeared in many solo exhibitions, notably at Malaysia’s National Art Gallery. He has published more than two dozen books of photography, covering themes as diverse as architecture, food culture, portraiture and indigenous people’s lives and crafts. His most recent major project is ‘Grit & Grace: The Grandeur of Monochrome Malaysia’, a stunning collection of photos of Malaysia’s topography and communities. Shekar is currently working on a project documenting Southeast Asia from the air in collaboration with Bellflight USA and Sigma Japan.
The award-winning Shekar is the official photographer of The Datai Pledge, contributing pro bono, with many of his images used on this website. In addition, he will be collaborating with The Datai Pledge to highlight the plight of Malaysia’s orang asli.
Navigating discerning travellers to the world’s most aesthetically pleasing eco-friendly hotels is Bouteco’s mission. So that travellers have rewarding escapes and so that luxury travel supports communities and conservation.
A purpose-led non-profit, Bouteco works as a consultancy to help hotels stand for something and stand out for it while helping amplify messages that matter. Brands representing themselves as responsible businesses need to walk their talk and talk their walk well – but without a glimmer of greenwashing. As trustworthy arbiters of truly sustainable luxury travel experiences, Bouteco shines a light on the people, processes and philosophies effecting change. A great believer that honest, emotive stories are one of the most powerful ways to prompt change – especially when it comes to the causes of the climate emergency – Bouteco made an award- winning documentary in 2019 about the importance of educating women in remote rural areas.
Bouteco Loves is Juliet Kinsman’s independent list of the most special sustainable luxury hotels in the world, which showcases The Datai Langkawi as an exemplar in this niche. A new, independent, ‘little green book’ for discerning travellers, travel agents, journalists and editors, the Bouteco Loves list exists to signpost all to the world’s finest positive-impact hotels with style and soul.
The Four Pillars
Our programme is divided into four pillars,
each supporting the work of a designated NGO and social enterprise partner.