Ritz earns community service accolade

Just 18 months after opening, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has received its most gratifying accolade: the Community Footprints Property of the Year Award for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC.

The resort was selected from 62 properties for its integration with the community with a multi-faceted approach to volunteer efforts, fundraising and education and workplace preparedness, said a press release.

Community Footprints is a companywide initiative for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. ‘The essence of the programme is to encourage and support the ladies and gentlemen to participate in community initiatives through philanthropy, volunteerism, education and environmental preservation,’ said the release. ‘Criteria for the award include accomplishment in: employee involvement, fundraising, product & in-kind donations, education and workplace preparedness activities for children and youth and environmental stewardship.’

The resort’s community partners have included the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Cayman Islands Humane Society, Big Brothers and Sisters and the public library and school systems.

Support for the Crisis Centre has ranged from assisting with fundraising efforts such as the Jingle Bell Walk and Shop For Shelter to refurbishing the centre facility and providing monthly repairs and maintenance to partnering with the resort owner Michael Ryan for a tennis tournament that raised $75,000, to simple gestures such as delivering fresh flowers and bottled water to the Centre each week.

Ladies and gentlemen have also volunteered weekly at the Humane Society walking and bathing dogs, cleaning cages and helping in the book store. Members of the resort’s Guidance Team have also sponsored two youths with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters programme.

In order to replenish stock in the George Town Library lost to Hurricane Ivan, ladies and gentlemen donated more than 500 books. The employees brought books from all parts of the world back from their vacations. They also assisted in cleaning books and moving the library stock to a new location.

Education programmes have included Hospitality in Training to provide young Caymanians with paid apprenticeships to learn the luxury hospitality industry, training and employment of five ladies and gentlemen from the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, serving as a ‘teaching resort’ and providing instructional assistance for the University College of the Cayman Islands Hospitality Programme and providing hotel tours and work experience to students in both the government and private school systems. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman also runs a mentoring programme for its Caymanian ladies and gentlemen, pairing each person with a manager to assist them in their career goals, development and job satisfaction.

Through the Ambassadors of the Environment by Jean-Michel Cousteau programme, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has involved its ladies and gentlemen in several programmes for wildlife conservation, cultural preservation and sustainable living, the release states.

‘Teams have participated in beach clean-ups, reef surveys, the Department of the Environment’s turtle nest monitoring and satellite tracking programmes as well as the blue iguana breeding programme.

The AOTE Heritage House is a model of sustainable living. It features furniture made of recycled materials, solar and wind power as well as an organic garden and composting station. The resort’s R.E.A.C.T. conservation program serves to reduce energy consumption through responsible practices and energy saving devices.

In addition to these employee-led initiatives, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman donated US$300,000 in room nights and gift certificates and more than US$85,000 in in-kind donations for fundraisers held at the resort.

‘I am so proud of our ladies and gentlemen for this extraordinary accomplishment,’ said Resort Vice President and General Manager Jean Cohen. ‘Most of them have been on the island for less than two years, yet they have embraced the Community Footprints programme and shown genuine care for our community partners. To be recognized with this companywide award after only the first full year of eligibility is a testament to their energy, creativity and passion.’

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