This month Hotel News ME talks to a group of hoteliers on the importance of giving back to the local community and sustainable practices throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Can you tell us about any CSR activities that you are running in light of the Holy month of Ramadan?
Al Deik: Jumeirah Group will donate AED 10 per room night booked to Dubai Cares during Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr at six Jumeirah hotels in Dubai, including Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf and Jumeirah Mina A’Salam.
The funds will be used to support Dubai Cares programmes aimed at providing quality primary education to children in developing countries.
This initiative by the Jumeirah Group complements the Dubai Cares ‘We Can Teach Each Other’ Ramadan campaign 2015, which emphasises the abundance of talent and resourcefulness amongst children in developing countries, as well as the responsibility of the international community to help empower these children through education.
Wild Wadi Waterpark is also offering complimentary entry every Monday between 3pm – 7pm during Ramadan, in return for charitable clothing donations. The items of clothing will be donated to support Beit Al Kheir Society, a non-profit organisation that provides assistance to underprivileged families in the UAE.
Martin: Inspired by the Holy month of Ramadan we shared Iftar meal boxes with over two hundred taxi drivers in the city. Over the course of three days our employees handed out the boxes of carefully crafted Arabian delicacies to taxi drivers who passed by InterContinental Dubai Marina.
Taxi drivers play a key role in showing travellers around the Emirates, especially now, when guests rely on their valuable services due to the heat of the summer. As a token of our appreciation for their efforts and commitment, we wanted to thank them through this gesture.
Busman: Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson properties in Dubai have been distributing juice, water and fruit to construction workers in Dubai, throughout the Holy Month and the weekly distributions are sponsored by Al Ain Dairy, and will continue until the end of August.
This community initiative is inspired by Carlson Rezidor’s Responsible Business programme. The Think Together pillar of the programme ensures the company is committed to upholding the highest standard of responsibility, and is encouraged to give back to the community socially and economically.
In Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai, we collected monetary donations from our hotel team to buy Ramadan Iftar food packs for taxi drivers, which are being distributed throughout the month and our Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah is also distributing Iftar meals to one of the mosques in Sharjah throughout Ramadan.
Schukowski: As Ramadan is the time of giving, worship and contemplation, Kempinski Hotel Ajman is supporting orphans and the local children that are less privileged by inviting them for Iftar.
Why is it important for hotels to engage in CSR activities not just at Ramadan but also throughout the year?
Schukowski: We feel a strong sense of responsibility towards our surroundings and society, which is crucial for our stakeholders, and therefore we feel we must give first to get back. We believe that the business has to be both profitable and sustainable. Supporting the less privileged is a basic way of supporting the community. You can’t take if you don’t give.
Al Deik: Charity is very important in Islam and even more so during Ramadan which is the month of giving and forgiveness. This campaign is closely aligned with the spirit of Ramadan and emphasises our efforts to promote equality and social cohesion and give back to the community. We are pleased to collaborate with Dubai Cares, which shares Jumeirah Group’s belief in the importance of charity and volunteer work.
Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest sectors in both economic and employment terms. Our current priority is to focus on the impact of our hotels and resorts, where we can influence and help to create positive outcomes. We are committed to investing in our local communities around the world and the tourism infrastructure. By creating unique employment and career opportunities, sourcing local products and services and helping build local supplier capacity, we aim to bring sustainable economic worth and empower our local communities.
Zaiane: Building better communities in the cities where we operate our hotels is part of the Kempinski culture.
Where possible, we look for opportunities to make a difference in our own regions by supporting local charities and initiatives; however, we also participate in international CSR initiatives, by supporting our sister hotels in other regions as they serve their communities.
It is always so rewarding to see the happy faces and smiles of the community members, especially children, who so deeply appreciate the contribution of local businesses to improve the lives and
experiences of the less fortunate.
Martin: At InterContinental Dubai Marina we are committed to having a positive impact in our local community and we want to give back to those who make our strong presence in the Dubai Marina possible. CSR activities inspire the best in every organisation and can positively influence the lives of many people around them.
Busman: We believe corporate social responsibility should be a continuous process throughout the year. The timings however, need to relevant to the activity in order to get the highest level of engagement. Ramadan is the month of giving and, as our culture dictates we feel all companies have an important role to play when it comes to creating public awareness and giving back to those in need.
What does your hotel do to ensure there isn’t an overload of wastage from Iftars, and what measures can hotels take to ensure less wastage?
Al Deik: Chefs use a benchmark system to ensure they cook and prepare the correct amount of food. By looking at what was required in previous years, the chefs can accurately tailor how much food they need to ensure waste is minimised each year and there is no over ordering. To ensure food isn’t wasted from the Iftar buffets, any surplus handled in accordance with local health and safety directives can be collected by authorized and registered charities. Some food is offered to colleagues and the rest is sent to recycling systems, such as bokashi at Madinat Jumeirah, which converts waste into fertiliser for the resort’s gardens.
Martin: We ensure that we understand the demand in guests for each of the Iftars at our main restaurant, Accents, where we host our Iftar offering from sunset to 9:30pm. Each day a review is done to check the expectations in capacity and thus allowing the Food & Beverage team to prepare sufficient volumes of food to ensure that there is no wastage.
It simply goes down to preparation, planning and forecasting your incoming guests day by day to ensure less wastage.
Busman: We have implemented some changes which started last year. Instead of traditional big bowls and dishes we have reduced the size into a more modern style of display which reduces waste. For hot dishes we have implemented lots of live cooking stations which give the customers better, fresher food and, again, reduces waste.
Schukowski: We are shifting to a live-cooking approach, which gives us a chance to offer food per demand and it helps to avoid unnecessary waste and there are definitely different measures that hotels can take to ensure the minimum amount of waste during Iftar, such as if an Iftar is offered as a set menu, we can make special arrangements and different menus that vary by food portion sizes.
It is also crucial for the kitchen team to be familiar with the reservation forecast and to consider if it is a weekend or a weekday in order to plan the prepared amount of food and avoid over-ordering the ingredients.
What new initiatives are you engaging in across the board?
Busman: In Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek we have created a special campaign for social media. A number of toy camels will take a break from roaming the desert and join in the sharing spirit. These camels will be travelling around from house to house with their owner to see family and friends and each guest who receives a camel can trace where the camel has travelled to using the hastags: #RamadanCamel #RadissonCamel #RadissonBluDXB on all social media platforms. At the end of the challenge the camel that gets the most likes and shares on Facebook or Instagram wins an exciting prize which he then can share with his proud new owner and then Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek will donate AED 5.00 to feed those in need, for every single like and share to a charity during this campaign.
Zaiane: This year, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates also took part in Al Bayan Wojoh Modia’a ‘Behind the Eyes’ campaign, aimed at encouraging people to reconsider their own lifestyle and live in a healthier, more sustainable way. Through our participation, we wanted encourage people to take a more complete look at their life and implement the changes they need to make improvements – see what’s going on behind the eyes.
Schukowski: In the beginning of 2015, we launched our green committee, which is focused on reducing energy waste and highlighting sustainability. The most recent activity led by the green team contributed to a local community in Ajman by organising a newly opened waterfront marina-area clean-up event.
We are also looking at organic food production and planning on partnering with Slow Food Dubai, which is an innovative concept rewarded by the Snail of Approval when a specific restaurant or the whole hotel participates in trainings and the menu is tailored so, that all the ingredients are sourced locally.
What should we know about your hotel’s CSR initiatives and why are they different?
Busman: Taking responsibility for the environment and local community has been an important part of Carlson Rezidor’s broader commitment to sustainable development since launching its first environmental policy in 1989.
Rezidor aims to be a trusted industry leader for Responsible Business in our interactions with all of our stakeholders including: owners, developers, partners, guests, employees and the local communities in which we operate.
We focus on the areas of responsibility that impact our business and society. Our award-winning Responsible Business programme is built on three pillars, Think Planet which is about minimising impact on the environment, Think People is focused on taking care of the health and safety of guests and employees and
Think Together is about respecting social and ethical issues in the company and the community.
Al Deik: Jumeirah supports the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP), one of the longest standing Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in the region and the only project of its kind in the Middle East. Since the project began in 2004, 800 turtles have been rescued and returned to the sea. The project accepts any distressed turtle, but the most common turtles found in the Arabian Gulf are the critically endangered hawksbill and the endangered green sea turtle.
The majority of rescued turtles are juvenile hawksbills, which are found washed up on the Gulf coastline during the winter months of December, January and February suffering from the adverse effects of cold sea temperatures. Other common aliments include ingesting plastic rubbish and injuries sustained from boats.
What do you do to limit water wastage and your carbon footprint?
Busman: Radisson Blu has signed a partnership agreement with Just a Drop, the international water aid charity that will ensure the hotel brand provides a lifetime supply of fresh drinking water to 12,000 children per year. The partnership marks the launch of the Radisson Blu’s Blu Planet towel re-use programme, whereby hotel guests will be asked to consider re-using their towels during their stay in exchange for a donation to Just a Drop.
Other actions range from collecting AC condensate water for landscaping to the installation of building management systems and intelligent kitchen ventilation systems to the use of grey water facilities.
Schukowski: We have implemented the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP plant), where mechanical components provide a process to help break down solids to produce cleaner, and more environmentally friendly effluent.
We use the water for gardening purposes in the outside areas, we are also planning to source food more locally. If we can use the Burrata cheese produced in Ras Al Khaimah, there is no need to import it from Italy.
Al Deik: Jumeirah Group has a growing number of properties accredited by Green Globe the global certification for sustainable tourism and examples of sustainable measures implemented at Jumeirah properties in the UAE include paperless check-ins, installation of LED bulbs which are 80% more efficient than existing fittings, grey water from Dubai Municipality for irrigation purposes to conserve water supplies, flow restrictors on certain showers and taps, a water treatment plant at Oasis Village to recycle grey water, integrated room automation systems and a building management system which monitors and controls the air conditioning and electrical