For four hoteliers, charity begins at home

Home is wherever you make it. For the following hoteliers, whose properties serve as a home base of sorts for travelers, charity begins there, too. Here are the stories of hospitality companies making a difference in the cities where their properties do business.

Editor’s note: These stories first appeared in the recent “Beyond the Boardroom” digital newsletter, sponsored by Wyndham Hotel Group. For more of these inspiring stories—and others—go to

Dream Hotel Group’s coat drive
gives gift of warmth

NEW YORK—As the temperature drops, there’s a renewed focus on the warm feelings of the season and helping others. Based here, Dream Hotel Group (DHG) wanted to help fellow New Yorkers in need this holiday season through a coat drive with New York Cares.

“New York Cares is on the front lines of that mission, bringing relief to tens of thousands of New Yorkers in need through its annual coat drive,” noted Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group. “As a company, we understand the importance of giving back to those in need, especially in the neighborhoods, communities and cities in which we live, work and play. Our hotels thrive on the support of the local community. This is our way of returning the favor.”

The hotel brand and management company began a partnership with New York Cares in 2016, and it plans to keep the relationship going for years to come. Stein explained that the hotels under the Dream Hotel Group umbrella thrive on the support of the local community—and this outreach effort is the company’s way of returning the favor.

“To date, we’ve helped keep more than 1,000 New Yorkers warm during the harsh winter months, and our goal would be to continue this partnership for as many years as they’ll have us, increasing our impact every year,” he said. “Our goal was modest for 2016—500 coats in total—and each hotel collected roughly 15 to 70 coats. Now, they’re bringing bags and bags of coats, and encouraging their friends and family to do the same. We hope to triple last year’s numbers for 2017 with a total of 1,500 coats.”

Hotel EMC2 partners with SYNCERE, a youth-based education nonprofit

CHICAGO—“Curiosity, combined with the ability to be creative and inventive, is the human trait that lies at the heart of Hotel EMC2’s brand identity. When human beings can be creative and invent, it can transform their view on life and ennoble the spirit,” said Scott Greenberg, president and CEO of hotel management company SMASHotels.

Greenberg is the visionary behind Hotel EMC2, a 195-room hotel open since July in downtown Chicago with a focus on the convergence of art and science through its design, cuisine and guest experience.

In an effort to give back to the community in which it resides, Hotel EMC2 has donated $90,000 to Project SYNCERE (Supporting Youth’s Needs with Core Engineering Research Experiments). The local nonprofit implements programs to engage young people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and set them on a path to college and careers in these fields.

“Hotel EMC2 has a deep passion for putting a spotlight on this message when a guest stays at our hotel, but also has a passion for sharing this experience in underserved communities in Chicago where the creative aptitude exists, but the opportunity for this experience is limited,” said Greenberg. “Therefore, our partnership with Project SYNCERE is perfectly aligned.”

Hilton San Diego Bayfront’s Holiday
by the Bay supports local military

SAN DIEGO—While the holiday season is often defined as a time a giving, it’s also a time of coming together as a community. For the second year, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hosted its Holiday by the Bay through Jan. 1, to benefit the United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) San Diego, which supports U.S. military service members.

The hotel’s Bayfront Park was transformed into a winter wonderland of sorts, complete with an outdoor ice rink, miniature holiday-themed golf course and other festive features. For Tracy Walker, area GM of Hiltons of San Diego, the holiday season has always been a favorite time of year.

“When I arrived at Hilton San Diego Bayfront in 2016, I challenged my team to think about how we could become even more involved with the local community and become a tradition in San Diego for years to come,” said Walker. “We wanted to create something that would bring the community of downtown San Diego together in celebration. Our team agreed that one of the favorite pastimes for the holidays was ice skating and, with the closure of a nearby ice rink, there was an opportunity for us to start our own. This is our second year with Holiday by the Bay, we hope to grow it as a tradition in the downtown San Diego community, and have continue to be a tradition for years to come.”

AHR Expo donates $20,700 to Chicago Lighthouse

CHICAGO—If business is a mindset, then supporting people in need is a matter of the heart.

Held in a different city each year, the AHR Expo (International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition) has a mission that is twofold: to highlight and celebrate innovation in the HVACR industry and to support a nonprofit in the community where the event is hosted. The AHR Expo has more than 2,000 exhibitors and attracts 65,000-plus attendees each year.

“Every year, we hold the AHR Expo in a different city, and are welcomed warmly by the community. We are pleased to be able to give something back through providing a donation to a local organization,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company and manager of the AHR Expo. “We are thrilled to be able to donate the entry fees from our Innovation Awards competition to the Chicago Lighthouse, which provides invaluable services to so many members of the Chicago community.”

At the 2018 AHR Expo, to be held Jan. 22-24, The Chicago Lighthouse will receive a $20,700 donation. The organization serves more than 67,000 people each year in the Chicago metropolitan area through vision rehabilitation services, education, employment opportunities and assistive technology. HB