The Rose Garden Riverside Resort – just an hour away from the bustle of Bangkok in Nakhon Pathom province – is one of Thailand’s famous resorts. Created over 40 years ago, the 70-acre vast tropical garden beside the Ta Chine River is today a peaceful retreat for domestic and international travelers looking to discover Thai traditional life.
More than a tropical garden or a hotel, the Rose Garden Riverside Resort sees itself as a guardian of Thailand’s traditional lifestyle, far from the influence of current trends. There is no modern, minimalist style at this resort. Here, guests are greeted by traditional wood Thai houses with wood furniture and blossoming gardens all around. Workshops with local people help to initiate visitors to the resort, the garden, and local handicrafts and also provide a living for surrounding farmers.
Surprisingly, the person in charge of taking care of this traditional Thai lifestyle at Rose Garden Riverside Resort is the young managing director Arrut Navaraj. According to him, the resort must set an example of a sustainable tourism development in the country. “I feel very much concerned about Thailand’s tourism development in the recent years. We have, over the years, experienced a rapid deterioration of our environment in many areas, mostly due to speculation and greed. It is a warning signal to us, and we do not want to see this kind of development around our hotel,” said Navaraj.
To be more environmentally friendly is becoming, in fact, a way for the Rose Garden Riverside to show its difference. “I have the ambition to turn our area and the surrounding farms into a center of organic agriculture. We have launched many programs with local farmers to educate and help them change their practices,” said Navaraj. The hotel management works also with students from Thailand’s University of Agriculture to search for new ways to grow food by minimizing or even stopping the use of chemicals.
The hotel buys all fruits and vegetables cultivated from surrounding farms. “We firstly guarantee an income for local people as we buy their agricultural products [at] higher prices. And we secondly guarantee to our guests that they will only eat products from bio-agriculture,” added Navaraj. Organic products are also used in a range of spa and beauty products such as soaps or oils. The managing director is currently looking to commercialize its 100 percent organic products on a larger basis.
Arrut Navaraj knows that his task of changing local mentality is not easy. “It is so hard to transform people’s practice, especially when they have been implemented for decades. This is why we also go to local schools to teach the children from [the] youngest ages about good practice. I am confident that one day all farmlands along the river will be completely turned into an organic area. And I hope that it will then spread to other areas around Thailand.”
Among other initiatives, the Rose Garden Riverside has contributed to the creation of a floating market. “Farmers were skeptical at [the] start to come by boat to sell their products to our visitors. But following the success of this initiative, we now have up to ten boats coming every weekend [at] our property,” said Navaraj. “Some tourists might think that it is just done on purpose for them. But these are real monks from neighboring temples coming by boat every morning to collect their alms.” The Rose Garden Riverside Resort already received many awards for good environmental practice including the Green Globe Bronze Award from PATA. “And we now aim for the Silver Award,” hoped Navaraj.