For 115 years, the Mandarin Oriental London Hyde Park has represented the pinnacle of luxury in Knightsbridge. Beautiful and stylish, the hotel has been a go-to destination for those seeking the best service and accommodation London has to offer. In 2016, the hotel embarked upon its biggest renovation ever, investing £100 million to maintain its reputation as the most desirable hotel in the capital.
Just weeks before its lauded reopening, a fire closed the hotel. It was a blow for the team at Mandarin Oriental, after all their hard work and preparation to once again welcome the public.
The people strategy
Following the incident, the team immediately formulated a people strategy to ensure that during closure all MOLON colleagues would be remunerated in full. Jon Dawson, Director of Human Resources at Mandarin Oriental explains, “Our immediate priority was to ensure we kept all of our colleagues fully engaged over the summer period and we, therefore, created a host of strategies which included creating opportunities for 77 of our colleagues to undertake cross training at sister Mandarin Oriental hotels across the world by covering their wages, transport, visa requirements and accommodation so that they could travel overseas in order to experience working in another country and further enhance their skills.”
For those who needed to or preferred to remain in London, the hotel wanted to do something to ‘give back’ to those less fortunate that would not only keep colleagues engaged, but would positively impact the local community and help raise the profile of the hospitality industry as a whole within the UK as an employer of choice.
“The creation of the people strategy during the closure was a collective team effort to ensure that all of our colleagues were taken care of and would have a positive experience during the closure,” Jon explained. “The charity initiative idea stemmed from our new General Manager Amanda Hyndman, who in her previous role of General Manager at the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC had set up a program which aimed to support the local community in which the hotel was located.” The idea could also boost colleague morale within the hotel and its subsequent business success. “We therefore built on that experience to create our very own FANtastic London community initiative,” he said.
The aim of the initiative was to show the hotel’s appreciation for all the kindness that so many showed us at the time and subsequent to the incident. “We really wanted to give back to the local community by allowing our colleagues the opportunity to voluntarily choose and support which charities are important to them, which, in turn, we hope may also positively impact the reputation of the hospitality industry as a whole,” Jon Dawson said.
Many charities that have benefitted from FANtastic London, with employees from Mandarin Oriental donating over 40,000 hours of community work. “So many charities have benefitted from this amazing programme; Oxfam, The Felix Project, The Passage, The London Fire Brigade, Age Concern, Hospitality Action, Evelina Children’s Hospital and other local charities that were close to our colleagues’ hearts,” Jon said.
According to Jon, Mandarin Oriental team members have had an incredible experience by volunteering their time during the hotels’ closure. “Not only are they getting to see and take part in things that normally many others wouldn’t otherwise be able to with work and family commitments, they have had the opportunity to work for a cause they were truly passionate about with many stating that this was a genuinely life-changing experience,” he said. “Many colleagues have learnt many new skills, developed new relationships and have also been true ambassadors for the hotel and the hospitality industry.”
The reopening of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London won’t be the end of FANtastic London. “Many of our colleagues have requested to continue their charity work next year,” Jon said. “When the hotel is fully open, we will make a further commitment to continue to donate a significant number of hours to the charities we supported during the hotel closure.”