Ethically Yours, Silver Naga Vang Vieng

“We use ‘Ethical’ a lot in our practices because I feel tourism is all about people,” said Rachel Dechaineux, owner of the riverside Silver Naga hotel in Vang Vieng.

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

“We aim to give our guests a truly memorable stay that incorporates my passions for Lao design, culture, and food.”

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

“I always reflect on what and how we engage as people, whether tourists or the hotel,” she added, and as a social anthropologist, “Socio-environmental concepts and issues are deeply ingrained in my heart.”

She stressed the 84-room hotel follows established sustainable guidelines, but, “We aim to create a balance of ethical and sustainable practices, by engaging the local community.”

She pointed to Silver Naga’s Sustaining Communities – School Project that renovated one local school wing with an Australian school donation. The project also supports regular sports and in-class environmental awareness activities.

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

Local school kids collect rubbish for pony rides offered by Silver Naga. The hotel’s eight-horse stable started in 2008, with three ponies acquired from Laundry Chief Ms Nai’s grandfather. They had been earmarked for Vietnamese butchers.

Ms Nai also helped commission a local women’s weaving group to “create our own design using natural dyes and organic cotton, for show pillow cases,” Rachel said.

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

She added Silver Naga’s contribution to the community’s economy reaches into all areas of the hotel, from furnishings to food. “Almost all our furniture was made by Vang Vieng carpenters onsite,” Rachel noted, and locally woven cotton upholstery covers them.

The hotel uses locally procured bamboo shingles, rattan furniture and basketry, and décor, including wall paintings by local artists and artefacts such as pottery and gongs. L’Artisans supplies liquid soap refills.

Dishes served in Silver Naga’s restaurant are mostly grounded in Vang Vieng and Laos. “I developed our initial menu with Lao seasonal cuisine, Rachel said. “This ‘slow food’ charcoal cooking brings out fabulous flavours using ingredients like bamboo shoots, crickets, fern shoots, and ant eggs.”

She added, “I have noticed over the years most Western travellers are willing to try the local food. They get addicted to Lao food for its freshness, spice, flavours and colour.” Less adventurous palates will find Asian and Western dishes alongside an Italian-inspired vegan menu.

The hotel’s fields across the Song River grow plenty that appears on their plates, while presenting an unobstructed view of steep limestone mountains. “We home grow natural, chemical-free sticky rice in our field,” Rachel said. “The garden produces chilli and basil, mulberry leaves for tempura, and rosella flowers and pandan leaves for welcome drinks.”  

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

She noted that chefs order seasonal vegetables and fruits available in the region before selecting products from Vientiane or imports. “We also separate our wet waste, and scraps head to the farm’s chickens, ducks, geese, and ponies.”  

Rachel then began pointing to the more traditional side of the sustainable scale. “We practice popular hotel policies on conserving electricity, towel reuse, sundried laundry, and water refill stations.” She added that Silver Naga has axed plastic water bottles. “We now have our own water filtration and glass bottle sanitizing system.”

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

Solar panels heat the water. Containers, wax paper, and banana leaves replace plastic bags for refrigerator storage. Staff make bamboo straws, and the cleaning teams collect cash in on recycling cardboard, glass, and plastic bottles…except those used to make stand up paddle boards.

But for Rachel, Silver Naga’s ethical bottom line relies on “the friendly service delivered by our local staff.”

Long-term investments in local staff pays off at Silver Naga

“Education for a career in tourism and hospitality is relatively new in Laos,” Rachel said. “Employment used to be based on English, computer skills, job experience, or recommendations. 

“Our staff were mostly trained on the job and at in-house training courses. However, that started to change when LANITH and vocational schools established core curriculum for tourism and hospitality, which raised the industry’s profile as a career path.”

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Rachel Dechaineux

However, careers at Silver Naga began at its first property Elephant Crossing that opened 15 years ago. “Several of our staff have worked with us for more than 10 years,” and they arrived on different roads. 

“At one stage, there was a trend of employees coming from a local English teacher training program…This crew started as waiters to improve their spoken English and learn service skills.” They then started climbing a choice of ladders.

“This was the path our current Communications/Reservations Manager Pong Phommaxay took. He is continually challenged with improved technology,” Rachel said.

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Pong

“Another example is Silver Naga’s Resident Manager Somchin Souvannaseng. We employed her as a 16-year-old to take care of our children. She started learning English by watching Disney and listening to conversations in the hotel.”

Ms Somchin went on to business management school, and took LANITH courses. “She has an amazing skillset, and is an excellent team leader,” Rachel said.

Silver Naga Vang Vieng Somchin

“The hotel’s core team now transfers their skills and know-how to student interns.” It appears Silver Naga’s investment in their employees’ future is now paying off.

Covid Clean & Safe

“We adapted our practices when Covid arrived,” Rachel said. “We monitor the temperatures of staff and guests at check in, and provide hand sanitizers. All staff wear masks, with many requiring gloves. We practice social distancing on elevators, and only make-up rooms upon request.

“Silver Naga conducts all protocols necessary to be a clean, safe place for our guests. We also allocate rooms with distances for individuals and groups.”


Website: Silver Naga
+856 (0)23 511 822

Download “Ethically Yours, Silver Naga Vang Vieng” .pdf

Visit Sustainable Tourism Laos


Media and Interested Showcase Partners Contact:


Bernie Rosenbloom


Tel/WhatsApp: +856 20 5613 3479


Leave a Comment