Going Local: Riverside Boutique Resort, Vang Vieng


Sustainable experiences reach into themed rooms at the Riverside Boutique Resort, while General Manager Mathieu Thaeron cuts consumption by relying on common sense and a clued-in staff.  

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

Today’s travellers demand sustainability and authentic experiences. Riverside delivers both. “The moment guests enter, they feel like they’re in Laos,” Mr Thaeron said, and the 34 rooms and suites prove it. All feature fabrics, decor and artefacts from one of eight local ethnic groups.

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

“Our staff from these ethnicities can best explain their traditions, lifestyles and crafts,” he said. “The guests are eager to discuss the culture, and often change rooms for a broader experience.”

Behind these room scenes, Mr Thaeron cuts energy consumption using common sense. Dimmers are out. “Guests tend to turn dimmers on high,“ he said. “We also lower minibar temps after guests leave, and shut off electricity to all unoccupied buildings.”

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

Common sense saves water. “We measure flow from taps and showers. Then we match the water heater with flow to get good pressure and temperature. This cuts water and electricity costs.” 

He added, “Rooms have silent overhead fans. They look nice and are efficient. We ask guests to ‘Give the fan a chance’.”

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

Still, guests need energy-eating A/Cs. For efficiency, bamboo boxes block the sun, promote airflow and cut costs by 15%.” 

Beyond rooms, innovative solutions start with poolside lanterns, fuelled by used cooking oil. 

Plastic bottles protect the tree-lamps bulbs. Public bathroom lights go on and off when people enter and exit.

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

Riverside’s kitchen eased exhaust fans’ work by shortening vent pipes. Food waste goes to the staff to feed family farm animals. 

Laundry? “We line-dry then fluff in dryers that are expensive to run.” Housekeeping? “We only uses eco-cleaners that produce less waste.” Recycling? “Policies are in place.” 

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

All this adds up to achieving the Lao PDR Sustainable Tourism Development Best Practices Award. On top of that, “ASEAN wants us to represent their Spa Standards…be the example. 

Mr Thaeron stressed the staff’s role in the resort’s sustainability efforts, prioritized in October 2019. “I tell them why we take actions. They understand, and that is our key to success.”

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

Hotel sustainability expert, Patricio Gonzalez Morel, saw this first-hand when he assessed the resort. “It usually takes GMs a long time to start adopting even the simplest improvements…Mathieu mobilized his staff in a week.

“He cut energy consumption by 35% in three months, and I expect 50% soon after.”

Mr Thaeron shrugged. “The reason is simple: common sense and an eager staff who understand…They get it.”

Riverside Boutique Resort Vang Vieng

Covid Clean & Safe

“Just after starting our sustainable push, Covid came,” Mr Thaeron said. “So we merged policies, and the staff was ready.”

Covid consciousness kicks off at Riverside’s check in. UV sterilizers sanitize key and credit cards. The front desk monitors temper-atures of guests, visitors and staff wearing masks and gloves. 

“We deep clean rooms after check out,” Mr Thaeron said. “Anything guests touch gets wiped with alcohol: door handles, faucets, remote controls, switches…everything.”  




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