The retail arm of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Banyan Tree Gallery acts as a marketing channel for traditional village crafts handmade in various parts of Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. In the process of showcasing these local crafts, it also helps sustain the livelihoods and skills of these artisans through gainful employment.
Banyan Tree Gallery is the brainchild of Claire Chiang, one of the founders of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts. In 1989, Ms. Chiang was approached to purchase two traditional maun triangular cushions by village women of the Yasathon village community in Northeast Thailand. Recognising the opportunity for supporting cottage industry, Ms Chiang commissioned 500 cushions and other traditional Thai crafts and textiles to furnish the interiors of the resorts in Laguna Phuket. This led to the birth of the first flagship store in Banyan Tree Phuket in 1994 and the ethos of a socially responsible tourism retailer.
Ethos of a Socially Responsible Tourism Retailer
Based on a concept of “retailing with a difference”, the Gallery‘s ethos centres around four core values:
Sustaining Village Development
By working closely with village cooperatives and non-profit craft marketing agents in Asia, Banyan Tree Gallery helped to conserve the unique culture and heritage of the villages while sustaining the livelihoods and skills of the artisans through gainful employment.
Conserving Natural & Cultural Resources
Using materials indigenous to the region, Banyan Tree Gallery has developed a range of eco-friendly products that make the most of what Mother Nature has to offer and minimising the use of environmentally harmful materials.
Showcasing Ethnic Crafts & Culture
Banyan Tree Gallery acts as a voice for traditional artisans – many of whom live in remote villages. To promote Asia’s diverse heritage and culture to the rest of the world, products retailed at the stores are accompanied by a write-up of the craft, its origins and the creator.
Educating & Motivating Stakeholders
To enhance the marketability and sustainability of cottage crafts, Banyan Tree Gallery shares market knowledge with the cottage craft producers in workshops and visits. By integrating a multitude of craft techniques, Banyan Tree Gallery helps to refine and upgrade artisans’ talents in response to niche market tastes.
To date, the Banyan Tree Group operates over 80 retail galleries worldwide.