Spain, hard-hit by the coronavirus, has been getting some help from hotels.
In April, the NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding opened its doors to world-renowned chef José Andrés and his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, to feed the needy. The hotel, under direction of chef Pepa Muñoz, collaborated with World Central Kitchen for several weeks, cooking up to 3,000 meals a day, said Hugo Rivera, managing director of the SE NH Hotel Group.
“The meals are being provided to families in situations of vulnerability due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Some people receiving meals are at home, some are staying in hotels that are operating as shelters or that have been medicalized to support nearby hospitals, and some meals are going directly to hospitals to support staff there,” Rivera said.
Contributed by Jeanette Hurt
Similar efforts, he said, were underway in kitchens at A Coruña, at the NH Collection Finisterre hotel, and in Malaga, with the collaboration of the nearby Anantara Villa Padierna Palace hotel. That hotel, a sister brand of NH Collection under Minor Hotels opened a year ago in Marbella, Spain.
NH Collection Finisterre was making 1,000 meals every day, and the Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Hotel was making 600 meals every day.
“I believe what we are doing is our responsibility to the city and its people – for all the parties, all the events, all the families who have organized something with us and all the support we have had for so many decades,” said Tito Fernandez, executive chef, NH Collection Finisterre. “Also, I am very proud to be able to help with what I do best: cooking.”
The many cooking endeavors were all organized by volunteers, Rivera said. Some came directly from the hotels, and some from other restaurants and hotels in the area.
“All the volunteer chefs are under the direction of an executive chef or the director of operations at the hotel,” Rivera said at the time. “In A Coruña, we are working with eight chefs from the area and a collaboration with another 40 volunteers. In Madrid, chef Pepa Muñoz, from the restaurant El Cuenco de Pepa, directs 50 volunteers, seven days a week.”
The partnership between the hotel company and World Central kitchen was organized by the hotel group’s culinary communications agency in Spain. “They already had a relationship with WCK, and we wanted to help so we quickly worked to make our hotel kitchens available to the organization in parts of Spain where WCK saw a need,” Rivera said.
Since their mobilization, the hotel group has donated more than 4,000 tons of food, thousands of amenities and thousands of shower caps and gloves.
“If there is something that characterizes people who work in the hospitality sector, it is the vocation of service, and in situations such as we have today, we really see the value of service,” Rivera said.
Sometimes, he added, that service is quite personal. A 93-year-old woman named Marcela lives near the NH Ventas Hotel in Madrid, and every night, she takes a photo of the hotel façade and its lights. “Like so many other hotels right now, the hotel has been creating shapes with the lights in the rooms – hearts, the words faith and hope,” Rivera says. “Marcela has been sending pictures of our window art by WhatsApp to a family group.”
“One of her granddaughters contacted us because she was celebrating her birthday. Marcela was turning 93 years old in solitude,” Rivera said. “And so, the team at the NH Ventas hotel stepped up in a big way for Marcela. Hymns, happy birthday, and ‘Zorba the Greek’ sounded from the hotel’s rooftop as the windows created different figures such as a heart, a cake with candles, her initials, and a 93. It was a whole celebration for our neighbor Marcela that completely surprised and delighted her on her birthday.”