Good Hotel: Social enterprise project aboard a floating hotel

Good Hotel – a floating, premium hotel which utilises upcycled materials and furnishings, renewable energy sources and locally sourced materials – is providing opportunities to local people in London’s Newham and tackling unemployment.

The premium hotel, which is currently docked in east London’s Royal Victoria Docks, will be a permanent fixture for the next five years.

The social business model provides a unique training program to long-term unemployed locals and helps them re-integrate into the economy.

Under Good Hotel’s London mission, individuals from disadvantaged communities are taken on for a 3-month placement that includes training and working in the hotel. After successfully completing the training, trainees get on-the-job training and a full-time salary at Good Hotel, after which they are mediated towards a permanent job in the local economy. Once the placement is completed and trainees graduate, a new intake is employed.

Good Hotel launched in Amsterdam as a pop-up social enterprise project in June 2015, aimed at giving opportunities to local people who had struggled to find employment and were receiving welfare support. The success of the Amsterdam programme has led to the hotel group to consider opening a permanent hotel in a converted industrial warehouse in the city, in order to continue its efforts.

The 148-room hotel, built on a large floating platform, is an ode to simplicity and functional design. Industrial in look-and-feel yet minimalist, two young Dutch designers – Remko Verhaagen and Sikko Valk – took on the challenge of creating a hotel experience that inherently reflects “the local”.

Good Hotel say: “Local is social. Connecting with local businesses not only reduces our carbon footprint by minimizing the transportation distance of food and materials, it also gives us the opportunity to get involved in local communities.

“This allows us to gain the knowledge needed in to maximise our social and environmental impact, and to create a premium hotel experience that reflects the local atmosphere.”

Good Hotel’s design team used natural, no non-sense materials, colours and textures such as steel, concrete and wood and took inspiration from the conceptual approach of Dutch design. With sustainability in mind, the Good Hotel is where guests will find furniture made from re-purposed materials, natural ventilation systems and water reclamation systems, and offers locally brewed beers, and meals, crafted from locally sourced ingredients, in its kitchen and bar.

Later this summer, Green Hotel is expected to open a green rooftop inspired by New York’s High Line, serving food and drinks to hotel guests as well as the public.

The Good Hospitality Group was founded in 2012 by Dutch entrepreneur Marten Dresen, with an aim of getting: “the best out of people, regardless of background – and to bring together the best people. Not for profit, but around a vision, a philosophy, and the Good Hotel brand”.

Martin Dresen, founder of Good Hotel and Good Hospitality Group, says: “What makes Good Hotels unique is the combination of doing good and premium hospitality. It’s not either or – both aspects are equally important. The social business model is fully integrated across all levels: from staff, to products, to guests, to investors.

“Profits are not paid out as dividends, but invested back into the communities, where the Good Hotels fuel education and entrepreneurship. And all of that while offering great hospitality to guests; which like education, is a matter of interpersonal service and attention.”

The social entrepreneur was born in the Netherlands to a family of care providers – teachers, psychologists and public service workers. Service and taking care of others were cornerstones of his upbringing, while business, on the other hand, was not a part of the equation.

During his student days, Martin Dresen travelled to Guatemala where he befriended a little girl called Mirna. Inspired by his interaction with Mirna, “the little girl with no shoes”, Martin Dresen founded the NGO Niños de Guatemala in 2006, on the belief that “education would provide another – better – future for Mirna, her family, community, and generation”.

Niños de Guatemala is a internationally-recognised NGO, currently educating over 400 students living in poverty. For every booking made via Good Hotel’s website, the company donate £5 per night to Niños de Guatemala.

Following the creation of the NGO, Niños de Guatemala, Marten Dresen started working in the international shipping company, stationed in Rio de Janeiro. Whilst in Rio de Janeiro, and in light of the city being awarded the 2016 Olympics, Marten Dresen saw an opportunity to link education, job creation and entrepreneurship to tourism demand.

In 2013, he quit his job in the shipping company to dedicate himself full-time to Good Group, a business that strives to be an exemplary model for business and how future business will work.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Marten Dresen said: “As a business model, it [Good Hotel] is scaleable, it’s profitable. In the future, it’s going to be less and less about making profit – of course, you need money as a means but it’s not an end.

“It’s creating development, bringing people together and that’s really what the model stands for. And I’m sure that’s universal.”

Good Hotel London

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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