Karmic Empowerment for the Community.
When former music promoter, John Spence, launched Karma Group, he came up with the perfect place. Hidden in the Ungasan area, Karma Kandara is a 5-star resort of outstanding natural beauty, an example of a sustainable operation in harmony with the environment and the Balinese people.
When viewing the magnificent plot of land, John realised that cutting trees down would be a tragic shame. So as you wander around the island’s most glamorous beach club, the roads, the pathways, everything meanders, providing an organic setting for something unique.
Power To The People
An integral part of Karma philosophy is to respect and actively help the people and places in which they are located.
“I think we empower people enormously, not only in Indonesia but in all our areas of operation”, says John. “When we started in Asia, 29 years ago, I realised very swiftly that the route to success was training local people, and whatever role they were in, I promoted them, so that eventually they’d be running the business in each area.”
With the traveller’s focus shifting from a hotel product to an overall experience, Karma Group has been able to provide such experiential travel, thanks to its founder constantly advancing innovative, inclusive, and collaborative growth.
Sharing With The Community
John is particularly involved with charities that support childhood development, including The Bali Life Foundation, providing food, education and holidays for underprivileged children. In his view, giving back is just good Karma.
“I think the mistake that a lot of international companies make, whether it be European or American, is they come to countries and they try and populate their operations with people from their own country”, John explains. “They fill management roles with foreigners. You have to give local people the opportunity to succeed, to make money and to grow.”
During hard times, Karma Group took the step toward truly empowering the community, with its philosophy to support those around them, while still achieving the objectives of their stakeholders.
Philanthropy During Hard Times
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Karma Group launched charity programs to help those in need, ranging from distributing face masks, and food materials to monetary support. Bringing together the global business community, with the goal of delivering actionable policy recommendations to G20 leaders on economic policies, investment, trade and more.
“We have a lot of charities that we work with. And we’re very proud of our philanthropy”, says John. “But I saw during COVID-19, the need to do more. And it was appalling to me that a number of companies, including some very large ones, stepped back their philanthropy because they cut budgets, and were worried about cash flow. Instead, we ramped it up.”
John and his team did a number of things. They ran a big vaccination drive believing very strongly that vaccination was the way out of the COVID horror. So they not only vaccinated all members of staff in Indonesia, India and Thailand and elsewhere, but Karma Group vaccinated the local communities by providing vaccination centres free of charge.
A Passion For Gin
In addition to the jaw-dropping views of the blue ocean from its cliff-top location, Karma Kandara also offers a signature craft travellers gin distilled in small batches. The signature boutique handcrafted gin is a beautifully balanced blend of botanicals sourced from the destinations where the group’s resorts, hotels, Chateaux and retreats are located.
“We were approached by a gin company with an idea that I liked a lot which was to take a gin and include botanicals from all the different areas of our resorts to create a new unique blend, which we’ve called the Karma Travellers Gin.”, says John. With a special blend of 13 aromatics, there’s a little bit of karma in each bottle.
Let’s Talk About Wine
There’s nothing quite like stepping off a long day on the beach and relaxing with a selection of made-on-site wines. John understands this and has started producing his own beverages that are as distinct as the resorts.
An avid wine lover, Karma has created a few brands of wine, sparkling and otherwise, from Chianti to a Chardonnay, and Rosé, which is very popular, coming from a chateau in Carcassonne, France. Not to mention an excellent red wine from down in Bordeaux.
A truly passionate leader, John knows that if we give good things out to the universe then the universe does tend to give good things back. He will ramp up a lot of programs next year including an architecture course with students from UCLA that has a very big focus on sustainability. In general, from a charity point of view, we should expect Karma Group to take a strong step forward in 2023, with several new philanthropic initiatives.