Most hotels get their business running, then find a cause to support. For Sol Y Luna, a luxury hotel in Peru’s Sacred Valley, it was the other way around.
Shocked by the lack of a quality education system in the Sacred Valley, Lima residents—and successful business people—Petit Miribel and Franz Schilter decided to move to the Sacred Valley and start an educational program to assist local public schools. The year was 1999.
It wasn’t long before Miribel and Schilter realized their educational program needed an additional source of funding to remain sustainable. So they built a hotel.
Hotel Sol y Luna opened its doors in 2000, in Urubamba, Peru. Today it features 43 high-end, individual villas and bungalows, two gourmet restaurants and a spa that incorporates traditional Incan healing treatments. The hotel receives over 10,000 guests per year.
A few years after the hotel opened, Miribel and Schilter came to realize that a more effective way of achieving their goal of improving education in the Sacred Valley would be to open a school of their own. So in 2009, Colegio Intercultural Sol y Luna opened its doors. It began with 185 students, including Miribel and Schilter’s children, Thomas and Melanie.
The school is thriving today, teaching the national curriculum, but also specific courses that prepare the children to the world of work, with two hours a day of English, Quechua and computer classes, along with sports and arts/crafts.
Not surprisingly, today the Hotel Sol y Luna and the Colegio Intercultural Sol y Luna are inextricably connected.
Many tour operators, including Butterfield & Robinson (the hotel’s first client) include $20 per guest in their booking to the Sacred Valley, which goes directly to the Sol y Luna Association.
Hotel guests are encouraged to visit the school and meet with the students and teachers. By staying at the hotel, they are directly funding the school, and benefiting the students. The hotel has created half-day and full-day activities around the school, including volunteering initiatives. Most hotel guests do, indeed, participate in school activities, where they get a first-hand look at the positive impacts the school is having.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which came first, the cause or the business, the important thing is that Sol y Luna continues to do good work for the children of the Sacred Valley.