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Mayan Aquaintance Experience: Giving Back in Tropical Paradise


Voluntourism may sound unappealing to some simply because it conjures up stereotypes of trips to undeveloped, amenities-deprived, third world country. For some it’s too much creature comforts to give up on a vacation even if they have altruistic intentions. For others, it’s too hardcore, especially for first timers who are looking to combine service and vacation.


The answer — hotel voluntourism — a soft introduction to voluntourism without having to sacrifice vacation amenities. The Ritz Carlton, an early entrant through its “Give Back Getaway” program, offers volunteer vacation packages at selected locations. The “Getaway” program at their Cancun, Mexico location is great for travelers who want a light service trip to Mexico. The program allows travelers the chance to participate in the Mayan Acquaintance Experience.

Though admired by its greatness in past centuries, today Mayan communities are struggling to overcome the rural conditions of their villages. Travel south of Cancun to a Mayan pueblito and assist with much needed community development efforts. Under the leadership of Kanché, Ritz-Carlton’s local non-profit partner, you will work side-by-side with the resort’s volunteers and the native residents to help improve the conditions of the school. Volunteers will help with various tasks, like painting and carpentry. Those who participate will gain a sense of the Mayan culture and be able to interact with those they are helping. At the end of the day, volunteers return to their getaway hotel to relax and enjoy all that The Ritz-Carlton has to offer.

To take part in the Mayan Acquaintance Experience, travelers make a donation that includes round-trip local transportation, breakfast and lunch for $115. The donation will go to Kanché. At least five volunteers must sign up for the program to run. The dates are as follows: October 24, 2009; December 19, 2009; February 27, 2010; April 10, 2010; June 19, 2010.

Hotel voluntourism takes a lot of anxiety out of service vacations and can be a good springboard to consider volunteer vacations for future trips. As more hotels start to offer voluntourism programs, soon you can choose hotels from any price categories that will fit your budget!

Contribution to post by Nicole Rutledge
photo credit: l savage


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