Skift Take

A feel-good story from a hotel brand that goes beyond the PR headlines? That's a very good idea.

Every boutique hotel brand wants a credible link to the local community. It could be the types of clientele you attract that aren’t from out of town (think the Ace New York); it could be the types of linens you use in the rooms; it could be the staff you hire and develop. But all too often these types of initiatives come off as contrived and shallow.

A recent trip to Guatemala unexpectedly introduced me to a hospitality brand that is doing social good in a sincere, very deep way. I had no idea walking into the Good Hotel Antigua; it looked like a solid, serviceable boutique hotel I hastily booked online when I was in town for a wedding. But over the course of a few days, the mission revealed itself to me organically through small and deliberate touch-points.

Good Hotels, aside from the SEO-nightmare of a name, is a series of boutiques (London, Antigua, Guatemala and a pop-up experiment in Amsterdam) focused on detailed community impact. And it isn’t just lip service for PR. All of the staff at the hotel in Guatemala were single mothers from the local community. Proceeds from stays went to educate children in need. The company operates by investing all profits back into its training programs.

The founder, Marten Dresen, a former oil and gas lawyer, had the idea after opening schools via an NGO in Guatemala but realizing that education was nothing if employment prospects locally were grim.

According to the brand, “Each Good Hotel partners with local NGO’s and offers a custom-made training which offers hospitality training to individuals from disadvantaged communities and people with tough backgrounds, helping them to (re-)integrate in the job market…”

During a pop-up year in Amsterdam, they turned 70 long-term unemployed locals who were on welfare into highly trained hospitality workers.

The impact work doesn’t stop there. All ingredients for food, materials, and labor are all locally sourced from small business owners and craftsmen, supporting the communities in which they operate. In the case of Antigua, there were a solid network of experiences out of the hotel that were boosting and supporting the local community. Even small details like the crafts given as small gifts to guests were handmade by local artists.

It’s a concept that struck me as incredibly sincere, at a solid price point, and making super tangible contributions to the local communities in which they operate. Eight further locations are up for development by 2020.

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Photo credit: Promotional image of patrons at the bar at Good Hotel Antigua. Good Group

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