Treat yourself to a luxurious tropical vacation or share the wealth and do good for people and the planet? Guests at one of Indonesia’s most idyllic destinations don’t have to choose between these options. At Wakatobi Resort they enjoy five-star service, gourmet dining, iconic accommodations, and exclusive access to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world. And while they are savoring the relaxations of their stay, the business they generate for the resort is working behind the scenes to protect marine life and provide income and social benefits to local communities.

First, let’s talk about the luxury side of the equation. Wakatobi sits on a small, scenic island that’s far from crowds, city lights and any other reminders of the outside world. But distance isn’t a problem, as guests enjoy a direct connection by way of a charter flight from Bali. Along the way, Wakatobi provides expedited international arrivals, concierge luggage and layover assistance, and access to a private airport lounge prior to departure for the resort.

On arrival at Wakatobi, guests are greeted by a staff that takes pride in providing warm personal service and excels in anticipating needs before a request is spoken. Relaxation comes easily in traditionally styled bungalows set in a beachfront coconut grove. Each of these private residences was hand-crafted by local artisans from native stone and local woods, then fitted with all the expected modern conveniences.

Even more memorable stays await in the resort’s oceanfront villas, which up the “wow factor” with panoramic waterfront decks delivering sunset views, Asian-style outdoor showers and plunge pools. Villa guests are also indulged with added perks such as personal butler services, private boats for diving and snorkeling, on-site spa treatments, private guides and more.

Meals are an oft-mentioned highlight of a Wakatobi vacation. The oceanfront restaurant showcases the talents of an internationally trained culinary team, framed against a backdrop of sea and rustling palms. Daily creations include a tempting assortment of signature regional cuisines and international favorites, with an emphasis on fresh and locally sourced foods. The team can also accommodate a wide range of bespoke menus and special dietary requests.

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Without belaboring the accolades, it’s clear that Wakatobi Resort deserves a place on the short list of the world’s iconic and upscale tropical escapes. This brings us to the other half of the equation: doing good for people and the planet.

Wakatobi Resort is renowned in diving and snorkeling circles, as it is considered one of the planet’s premier coral preserves. The reefs that surround the resort are home to thousands of species of unique marine life and more than 400 varieties of colorful coral growth. Marine biologists have referred to it as a haven for marine biodiversity.

The resort founders understood the vital need to protect and preserve this pristine environment and set a novel plan in motion even before opening the doors nearly three decades ago. In exchange for honoring a “no-take” agreement on the newly created marine preserve and refraining from destructive fishing methods, members of the local community would receive direct monthly income and other benefits from Wakatobi. Money for these payments would be generated by resort revenue.

This initiative, known as the Collaborative Reef Conservation Program, is now in its 27 th year, and is internationally recognized as a pioneering model for community-based private-sector conservation.

Today, the marine preserve funded by Wakatobi revenue protects more than 20 kilometers of prime coral reef, serves as a source of income for 17 area villages, and provides a range of additional ecological and social benefits to the region. The resort sponsors reef and beach cleanings, installs moorings in harbors to minimize anchor damage, provides clean water and electricity to a neighboring village, donates educational materials to local schools and creates programs that benefit village widows and small-scale local businesses.

The contributions made possible by Wakatobi guests have significantly increased the economic security and the quality of life for surrounding communities. And perhaps more important, the program is creating awareness and changing attitudes. Groups that traditionally viewed coral reefs as a resource to be exploited indiscriminately are now seeing the benefits of stewardship and sustainable harvesting practices. Area fishermen understand that the no-take zones serve as nurseries that boost fish populations in areas adjacent to the sanctuary. This evolution into a sustainable model for harvesting has turned these same fishermen into some of the strongest advocates for reef protection.

Wakatobi’s conservation program is a true success story in the world of marine conservation. And each and every guest of the resort contributes to this social and environmental good simply by showing up and enjoying their vacation.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Wakatobi Resort.

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