This is an amazing concept and hopefully takes off like a rocket. I would imagine with the influx of energies towards oneness, this should be a booming business!
Posted by Joanie on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
It may seem like a bit of an oxymoron — luxury voluntourism. The volunteer trips we have experienced would most certainly not qualify as luxury. Comfortable, safe? Yes. But luxurious? Um,no. It certainly sounds intriguing and a great way to balance a desire to give back while also enjoying a luxury vacation.
Hands Up Holidays offers just that and is a unique hybrid in the volunteer travel industry. They combine tailor-made luxury travel experiences with philanthropic opportunities to interact with the local people of a destination in meaningful ways. They have trips for singles, couples and families. They also have a separate division for corporate incentive travel.
Recently, we had a chance to interview Hands Up founder Christopher Hill
So first up — what makes Hands Up Holidays a “luxury” volunteer travel experience?
The main way our trips are luxury is the obvious way: in terms of accommodation. We focus on eco-luxury hotels, e.g. those luxury hotels that have high standards of environmental and social responsibility wherever possible. Also, the fact that all our trips are tailor-made in order to ensure that the trip perfectly fits our clients’ requirements adds to the luxury feel. Last, but not least, our personal, highly qualified guides for the sightseeing portion of the trip also make for a premium experience.
Could you tell us a little bit about how HandsUp got started?
My background was a degree in law and in finance, and after university I spent 6 years working in Corporate Finance here in London. I learned a lot of skills, but continually felt like there was more to life, and on a trip to South Africa in 2002 I found my calling! On that trip, I indulged in all the usual aspects of a luxury trip to Africa: incredible safari experiences, and enjoying all that gorgeous Cape Town and surrounds have to offer. But what was pivotal was the time I spent helping build a house for a family in Khayaletsha township, just outside Cape Town. This enriched the whole experience, as I got to interact meaningfully with the local people, gain insights into their lives, share stories, and also ,make a positive difference in their lives, tangibly, with a house they can call their own. For me it was the perfect vacation: luxury hotels, amazing sights, and time to give back and go deeper. And I reasoned that I was not alone, that other people would like to travel this way, so I decided to leave my career and start up Hands Up Holidays to enable others to have similar experiences to me.
How did you develop your mission?
After South Africa, and leaving my job and deciding to set up a luxury voluntourism company, I spent the next 2.5 years travelling the world, building relationships with communities and local partners, before we were ready to launch in early 2006.
What are some of your signature trips? Our most popular destinations are:
– India (sights such as Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, Kerala, combined with teaching or renovation work in the slums of Delhi)
– Costa Rica (sights such as Arenal vacation, nature reserves, gorgeous beaches, combined with wildlife conservation)
– South Africa (sights such as safari, Cape Town, Cape peninsula, winelands, combined with orphanage renovation)
– Belize (sights such as Mayan ruins, waterfalls, chocolate making, diving and snorkeling, combined with installing energy efficient stoves in the homes of those who can’t afford them)
– Guatemala (sights such as Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Tikal, combined with building a house for an impoverished family)