Last September, the Grand Hyatt Atlanta wrapped up an $11.4 million renovation to replace everything in the 418 guestrooms and 21 suites. Typically, when a hotel undergoes a project such as this, the owners sell what they can and trash the rest. Except in this case, they decided to donate a portion of furnishings and fixtures to Habitat for Humanity’s local ReStore facility.
Located in cities where Habitat operates, a ReStore is a used home furnishings shop that receives donated materials to be sold to the general public. The monies are in turn used to purchase raw materials to build Habitat for Humanity houses for disadvantaged working families in the region.
The donated materials from Grand Hyatt included beds, televisions, furniture, lamps, bathroom fixtures and artwork. From an environmental standpoint, the donations that made the most impact were the 29,000 yards of wall vinyl and 30,000 square yards of carpet that had to be carefully removed to be shipped and re-used, which added significantly to the overall expense.
“We spent $26,000 per room and everything was replaced, but we wanted to do something good for the community too,” says Adam Noyes, Director of Sales/Marketing. “And the more research we did, the more we liked the idea of working with the people at Habitat for Humanity.”
And what was the motivation to seek out a non-profit org in the first place?
“We have really generous owners. Host Hotels & Resorts believed in this and their buy-in was crucial to make it happen,” explains Noyes. “There was also a significant amount of material that we wanted to keep away from the landfill, which ties in with Hyatt Corporate’s ‘Meet & Be Green’ program.”
Total meeting space at Grand Hyatt Atlanta is 30,000 sf with 20 breakouts, while the focal point of the entire property is an outdoor Japanese garden with cascading waterfalls. Noyes says it’s popular for elegant private soirees for up to 250 pax, previously used by Fortune 500 corporate groups ranging from Rubbermaid to BMW.
Other strong selling points are the large balconies in the suites, including a 1,000-sf terrace off the presidential suite well suited for small cocktail receptions. The Buckhead location is another plus with everything from “high-end sushi restaurants to nice pizza places,” says Noyes, “and Atlanta’s famous Lenox Square Mall is just a few blocks away.”
He especially recommends Chop’s Lobster Bar for groups, offering a private boardroom-style dining room for 22 people, and semi-private dining for up to 36.
SPREAD THE WORD
There are over 700 Habitat for Humanity ReStores in North America, so most hoteliers planning an upcoming renovation have an opportune way to give back to their cities. In Atlanta, three other hotels have donated materials to Habitat.
“It’s definitely something that we’re interested in promoting,” says Lisa Schwinghammer, Director of Retail Sales for Habitat Atlanta’s ReStore. “We don’t want to be the world’s best kept secret.” Schwinghammer adds that a fair amount of logistics are required in terms of timing and delivery. For the Grand Hyatt job, the company that delivered the materials did so for free.
“It can be challenging to meet a hotel’s timeframe and find the required manpower,” says Schwinghammer. “But if a business can find it in their hearts, this is one way they can be charitable and help out their own community.”