Hyatt hotel in Rio opens doors to community before guests

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With a focus on literacy and career readiness, Hyatt's Ready to Thrive programme has taken shape in a number of ways and through various collaborations with non-profit partners across the globe.  One particularly special example of this commitment is taking place in Rio de Janerio where a new Grand Hyatt hotel is scheduled to open in 2015.

Thanks to Kristen Berlacher, Manager of Community Engagement for Hyatt, for providing Green Hotelier with this story...

Before even opening their doors to guests, this hotel has made big plans to open their doors to the local community.  With the initial donation from Hyatt of $750,000, the team is engaging two local non-profits, AlfaSol and Roda Vida, to support career readiness and education programs for low-income youth in the community.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Christophe Lorvo, area vice president and general manager at Grand Hyatt Rio to get his perspective on the role this hotel is playing in bringing Hyatt’s commitment to education to life locally.

Why is Hyatt Thrive important to you personally? 

I feel very privileged in my life to do what I do and to be in a position of giving back to people less fortunate. Also as a leader within our company, I make it part of my responsibility to engage with our local community and drive such activities.

Whether in Argentina at Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires or in Japan at Grand Hyatt Tokyo, I have been actively involved with my team in supporting social initiatives that benefit our local communities. While I was in Buenos Aires, we supported an organization “Casa Manu,” which looks after abandoned children with HIV. In Tokyo, we partnered with “Kids Earth Fund” and “Hands on Tokyo,” which support children that lost their families and homes in the 2011 tsunami.

We’ve also focused a lot on education as too often children are the most vulnerable in our communities and we believe education is so critical to thriving communities.

Why is providing career readiness training to youth so important to your hotel and to the local community?

Our success should also stimulate growth and success for our local community with job creation and income generation. A strong education is essential for economic growth.  It is a strategic investment of our resources to create lasting impact for local communities and for our company to provide support for Hyatt’s culture of authentic hospitality.

When you engage the local community, you are able to offer opportunities, inspire the youth and identify talented people. Offering job training to youth helps create career paths for a new generation while establishing strong community relationships and driving brand awareness.

What are some of the ways that Grand Hyatt Rio is already giving back?

The success of our company begins with our colleagues – present and future. We believe that this pre-opening phase is essential to connect first with the community prior to opening the doors to our first guest. At the beginning of the month, we kicked off a Tourism Class with students from Alfisol.  It’s an 8-month course and our team will continue to work with them throughout this time and even host them at our hotel in the future. In addition, we are currently working on a collaborative art project for the hotel’s back of house areas, in which we are recruiting talented local street artists to decorate our walls and demonstrate their creative skills.

Tell us more about the local organizations with which you’re currently working. How have your colleagues been involved?

Hyatt is investing $750,000 in two non-profit organizations, AlfaSol and Roda Vida, to focus on education and career readiness for low-income youth.  AlfaSol provides tourism courses adolescents and up; and Roda Viva helps to strengthen public school education by offering baking, arts & crafts, beautician and seamstress courses.

Through these partnerships, we are helping to finance a new bakery that is being built to provide jobs and sell bread within the community.  Additionally, we have assisted several individuals in searching and applying for jobs, resume writing and interview skills. My hotel colleagues and I visit both organizations every two months to meet both with their coordinators and students.

What is your vision for the hotel’s community efforts?  What are you most excited for in the future?

I feel it is necessary to establish and create a very personal relationship with our local community, become a “platform to dream” for young people, to inspire the new generation and give them opportunities in their lives.

Cariocas (people who live in Rio de Janeiro) are remarkably nice and warm people. I am excited that the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro will integrate their wonderful sense of hospitality, offer unique guest experiences and bring new levels of service in Brazil.

 Hyatt launched the new corporate philanthropy program, Ready to Thrive is Hyatt's corporate philanthropy programme launched one year ago. It is an extension of global corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive. For more relevant stories on Green Hotelier see our articles on Engagement, community and communication. Join our Twitter Chat at 13:30 GMT today for more info, tips and debate about engagement!

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