The award was established ten years ago by EHMA – European Hotel Managers Association in collaboration with Diversey, a company constantly delivering revolutionary cleaning and hygiene technologies, as they share the same concern and philosophy towards sustainability. This year’s winning project, “The Grand’s Social Engagement during COVID-19” developed by Emmy Stoel at Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam, is however particularly remarkable because besides an impressive range of initiatives being carried out with regard to sustainability, it aims at people safety, care and well-being and helping the local community, as most of these have a sustainability benefit as well. In addition, the project helps creating a stronger brand value which will lead to a greater competitive advantage and contribute to future growth. A perfect example of circular economy aimed at redefining growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits.
The winner was chosen by a jury comprised of Verena Radlgruber-Forstinger – EHMA 1st Vice President; Daniel Daggett – Vice President Corporate Sustainability at Diversey; Mr. Arjan van Rheede – Senior Research Fellow in Sustainability at Hotelschool The Hague. Project Coordinator: Antoine Rocourt – Executive Director Sustainable Development at Diversey.
“Emmy Stoel has a strong vision and is constantly devising sustainability projects and looking for ways to support the community”, says Ezio A. Indiani, President of EHMA and GM Hotel Principe di Savoia Milan. “Having successfully reached the tenth edition of this award, it has become increasingly clear that EHMA members have embedded sustainability in their operations and culture and feel deeply about social responsibility”.
“Our industry was hit very hard in 2020. Financial commitments for social engagement were not possible, therefore, we challenged ourselves differently”, comments Emmy Stoel. “We set the goal of collaborating with various local and national charity organizations concerned with the welfare of people. During the year, we focused on supporting existing projects mostly in Amsterdam and its surroundings aimed at education, waste, food, poverty, lonely elderly etc. We will definitely continue to support the community with our social engagement actions that are part of the The Grand’s Social Engagement during COVID-19 project. We will look for new collaborations with local and national charity organizations”.
Over the last decade, Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam has integrated numerous sustainable practices to create a better future. This major investment has decreased the energy consumption significantly. In addition, The Grand has proudly achieved the Gold certification from the Green Key standard, which is the leading standard for excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry.
To quote a few examples of the numerous sustainable initiatives taken by Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam, the entire garden is watered with collected rainwater, there is an urban rooftop garden for the kitchen and some of the roofs of the hotel have got grass on them. The hotel is closely involved in the fight against food waste. Every day, The Grand offers several ‘Magic Boxes’ containing a complete breakfast in the ‘Too Good To Go’-app for a reduced price. The coffee bean wastage is used to grow mushrooms which is used for savory snacks and the orange peels goes to a company that creates a liquor from it. Furthermore, the hotel recycles plastic, paper and all other items that can be reused.
The environmental improvements within the hotel during COVID-19 included the elimination of the use of plastics, fighting against food and other types of waste and supporting organizations that aim to reuse products and help the less fortunate. Waste has decreased significantly because of these actions. For an ongoing social engagement project, bottle caps are being collected for the KNGF (organisation for the training of guide dogs for blind people). All of the hotel staff, called “Heartists”, use reusable face masks and washable wipes.
The team of The Grand joined forces by handing out colorful tulips to thank the municipality and city cleaners of Amsterdam for their great work and efforts during the pandemic, as well as to several care homes to support lonely elderly. Chefs in the kitchens baked cakes which were distributed amongst all the police and fire brigade stations of Amsterdam.
Whereas in previous years sustainability was mainly a focus for a somewhat smaller group, gradually more employees have become involved with sustainability during 2020. This involvement created a special bond among the “Heartists”. Many mentioned that they felt good by giving something back to the community; therefore, employee satisfaction definitely increased.
Guests are informed about all of the actions that contribute to the community by actively sharing information on the hotel social channels and website.
Emmy Stoel is an experienced General Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the luxury hospitality industry, skilled in Gastronomy and Hospitality Management. She graduated from Hotel Management School Maastricht and holds a GMP from Cornell university, starting her career in 1989 at Hotel de Arendshoeve. In the following years she held various management positions at Hilton hotels and Hotel Okura Amsterdam, where she worked as General Manager for 6 years. The Accor Group appointed Emmy Stoel to the position of General Manager of Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam in 2019, thus strengthening the company's commitment to gender equality.
The other competing projects were presented by:
- Giuseppe Falconieri - Laguna Palace Hotel Grado, Italy. Projects implemented aimed at water saving, utilization of solar thermal systems and green electricity, avoiding waste, increasing sustainable purchase.
- Johannes Lehberger - Hotel Schloss Lebenberg Kitzbühel, Austria. The hotel joined the Austrian Eco-Label, which offers a holistic approach of factors to follow and optimize aimed at reducing waste, energy and the use of water, chemicals and single-use plastic, buying regional and seasonal products.
- Vito Spalluto - L'Andana Resort, Italy. The hotel focused on 3 projects during the pandemic: “Be Green Be Happy”, which included teaching kids to fix broken toys; “MaggiorDame” providing customized service to guests; “La vacanza che verrà” offering free accommodation to nurses and doctors.