How Luxury Hotels Are Helping Refugees
One stitch at a time.
Even before COVID, travellers were looking beyond superior service and lavish amenities at their five-star hotels. With luxury nomads more discerning than ever, holding onto the loyalty of a guest means going beyond just butler services and a friendly smile upon arrival.
Words like sustainability, climate change, renewable resources, and farm-to-table are great selling points. Now, phrases like social responsibility and marginalized communities have entered the lexicon of the highly volatile hospitality industry.
In Switzerland, one of the country’s finest five-star luxury hotels, the Alpina Gstaad, is continuing its long-term philanthropic tradition of being socially responsible, lending a hand to help the more than 50,000 marginalized Syrian refugees in Jordan. SEP Jordan will be hosting a series of pop-ups at the the Alpina Gstaad during the summer, sharing women’s garments made by refugees.
“Our aim is for the Alpina Gstaad to serve as an incubator, bringing unusual experiences to our guests with activities that are aligned with our values,” explains general manager Tim Weiland. “Our guests are discerning and curious, and we as hoteliers look to satisfy, to anticipate their curiosity. These one-of-a-kind hand-embroidered fashions and the stories they tell should spark curiosity,” Weiland says.
In addition, the hotel will be working to support six of the 17 sustainable development goals laid out by the United Nations.
The founder of SEP Jordan, Roberta Ventura, says that her actions in helping the women of Jordan go behind just giving them money—it is about self-worth. “I could no longer wait for solutions to solve some of the problems faced by refugees. I remember seeing a woman crying desperately in a Jerash camp [in Jordan] because she was humiliated to accept a donation. That is when I fully understood that the only way to help is to create sources of employment and give them their dignity back,” says the former banker.
Similarly, Soneva Jani in the Maldives launched the world’s first sustainable resort boutique last year, selling only brands that follow an environmentally or socially conscious ethos. With more than 25 international designers on offer, such as Turkish brand My Beachy Side, it sells hand-crocheted coverups to help disadvantaged women and Syrian refugees.
Sunbathing in Noonu Atoll and relaxing on the sandy white beaches just came with an even better excuse to spend frivolously while on vacation.
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