Industry reacts to Ukraine crisis

As the world continues to react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and world governments put financial and other restrictions on the invaders, companies with business ties to the region are revealing their own plans.

Several hotel companies have closed offices and suspended further development in the country, while also focusing on providing humanitarian aid to those affected.

Marriott International, which according to its website has 29 hotels in Russia, has closed its corporate office in Moscow and paused the opening of upcoming hotels and all future hotel development and investment in Russia. Here’s the company’s statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the horrific violence impacting the people of Ukraine. We have supported and will continue to support humanitarian efforts through relief organizations, our network of global partners and our own operations, including housing refugees at Marriott properties in neighboring countries. We stand with all of our associates who are being impacted by the war in Ukraine and have earmarked $1 million to our associate relief fund to support them during this tragic time.

“We have made the decision, effective immediately, to close our corporate office in Moscow, and pause the opening of upcoming hotels and all future hotel development and investment in Russia. We have been closely monitoring the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, Russia and neighboring countries, and remain in regular contact with our teams on the ground, as we work to comply with sanctions and applicable laws. Our hotels in Russia are owned by third parties and we continue to evaluate the ability for these hotels to remain open.

“We deplore the loss of life, widespread impacts to millions of innocent civilians and the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine. We strongly support those working towards peace and an end to the needless suffering.”

Hilton, which like Marriott, has 29 hotels in Russia listed on its website, has closed its corporate office in Moscow and suspended all new development activity in the country. Here is the company’s full statement:

“Hilton joins those around the world in shock and disbelief at the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine. Our hotels have always been part of the fabric of our communities that we serve, and we take seriously our promise to positively impact the places where we live and work. In addition to the steps we have already taken to protect our team members and guests, we are taking the following further actions in response to the current crisis:

  • We are donating up to 1 million room nights to support Ukrainian refugees and humanitarian relief efforts across Europe, in partnership with American Express, #HospitalityHelps and our community of owners.
  • We have closed our corporate office in Moscow and will ensure continued work and pay for any impacted team members.
  • We are suspending all new development activity in Russia.
  • We will donate any Hilton profits from business operations in Russia to the humanitarian relief efforts for Ukraine.
  • And as previously announced, the Hilton Effect Foundation has contributed $50,000 to World Central Kitchen and Project Hope to further assist with humanitarian aid.

“Hilton continues to monitor the situation as it evolves. We are keeping our team members and all those impacted by these events in our thoughts and hope for a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

Hyatt, which lists six properties in Russia on its website, has suspended development activities and new investments in the country. Here’s the company’s official statement:

“We are heartbroken over the devastation unfolding in Ukraine and the mounting tragedies resulting from military actions, including lives lost, families separated and the displacement of millions of people. Our focus remains on the safety and well-being of our colleagues and guests in both Ukraine and neighboring countries who face these unconscionable challenges. The global Hyatt family has come together in inspiring ways to care for those impacted by this tragedy, including providing refugee accommodations across Europe, sending supplies to the people of Ukraine, job transfers for Hyatt colleagues and a relief fund for our Hyatt colleagues in need of basic necessities, relocation support and care. We will continue to work to expand our humanitarian efforts across the Hyatt portfolio.

“At this time, we have made the decision to suspend our development activities and any new investments in Russia, effective immediately. We will continue to evaluate hotel operations in Russia, while complying with applicable sanctions and U.S. government directives as we hope for a resolution to this crisis. Understanding that many people in Russia face challenges and uncertainty about their future as well, we are determining how best to support and care for our hotel colleagues and current guests in the country.”

According to the Financial Times, Accor, which lists 57 properties in Russia, has suspended all planned openings and developments in Russia and any partnerships with Russian companies. Here’s the company’s full statement:

“Since the tragic escalation of events in Ukraine, Accor has been concentrating its efforts on making sure our teams, guests and local partners stay safe.

“We have activated our dedicated financial vehicle, the ALL Heartist Fund, to support our teams and families in the region. In addition, Accor Heartist Solidarity, our endowment fund, is partnering with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to collect employees’ donations that will be topped-up by Accor.

“With the strong and outstanding support of our partner owners, the group is also working hard in close collaboration with authorities and NGOs to welcome those fleeing areas of conflict, offering shelter and resources in neighboring countries such as Poland, Romania, Italy and France. As of now, our hotels are mobilized in Lublin (PL), Krakow (PL), Nowy Sacz (PL), Raclawice (PL), Warsaw (PL), Bucharest (RO), Timisoara (RO), Galati (RO), Paris (FR), Genova (IT), Budapest (HU), Chisinau (Moldova)…

“Accor continues to monitor the situation closely and our warmest thoughts goes to all those severely affected by this war. The entire group is deeply committed to respond quickly to any further change or to any support teams may need on the ground.”

IHG, which lists 15 Russian hotels on its website, has suspended future investments, development activity and new hotel openings and closed its corporate office in the country. Here’s the company’s statement:

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the war in Ukraine and our thoughts continue to be with all those impacted by these horrific events. IHG has a commitment to look after the people and communities where we have a presence around the world.

“We have long-term management or franchise agreements with independent third-party companies that own the hotels in Russia. In light of the war in Ukraine, we are suspending future investments, development activity and new hotel openings in Russia. We are also closing our corporate office in Moscow but will continue to support our colleagues.

“We are working with our hotel owners in countries neighboring Ukraine to offer refugees temporary accommodation. As part of our proud long-standing relationship with CARE International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), IHG has also made a significant donation to these two humanitarian organizations. This will help them in their invaluable efforts to support refugee groups around the world, including getting aid, food, water, shelter and supplies to people in desperate need in Ukraine.”

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, which has approximately four properties in the country, but does not have a corporate office in Russia, is working to provide humanitarian aid. Here’s the company’s full statement:

“Like others around the world, we are deeply saddened by the crisis developing in Ukraine and our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people. Wyndham is supporting those affected by this humanitarian crisis including:

  • Donating $100,000 to support the humanitarian relief efforts of Save the Children, which is currently on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries. Save the Children aims to reach 3.5 million children and their families with immediate aid and recovery support including food, water, hygiene kits and dignity kits, psychosocial support, safe spaces and cash assistance.
  • Donating one million Wyndham Rewards points to Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.
  • Creating a Wyndham Rewards point donation program benefiting Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, which enables 92 million Wyndham Rewards members, our franchisees and team members to donate points to support humanitarian efforts. The company will match donations up to 10 million points.
  • Donating Wyndham profits from business operations in Russia to humanitarian relief efforts.
  • Establishing a Wyndham Global Workplace Giving Campaign where franchisees and team members can donate directly to Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund and help send much-needed hygiene products to those in need.

“We continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. While Wyndham does not maintain a corporate office or hotel management presence in Russia, we are working with our team members in the broader region to support the Ukrainian people and our Ukrainian franchisees and hope for a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

In addition to hospitality companies providing humanitarian aid, others in the industry are stepping up. “Seeing the news—images and videos of Ukrainian people in bomb shelters, fleeing their homes, and crowding train stations to get to safety—is incredibly upsetting,” said Vinay Patel, chair, AAHOA. “And I know AAHOA members also are in shock and disbelief about this premeditated war, which is undoubtedly bringing incredible human suffering to the innocent people of Ukraine.”

It’s in times of need and suffering that our industry can really make an impact. A new initiative, #HospitalityHelps, has the single goal of providing temporary hotel accommodation to Ukrainian residents who are forced to leave their homes as a result of the war.

“The hospitality industry has always been one to step up in times of need,” he said. “The #HospitalityHelps initiative is a true testament to what can be accomplished when we work together to help those who are suffering.”

#HospitalityHelps is currently connecting families on the run from the war in Ukraine with hotel owners across the world providing free hotel stays.

“At the end of the day, people just need to feel safe,” said Patel. “They need a roof over their heads and a place to call home while their country is experiencing extreme unrest.  This is the very foundation of the hotel industry and what hotel owners strive to do each and every day: provide solace and peace for those who need rest and a safe place to stay.”

Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA, provided this statement to Hotel Business: “The situation in Ukraine is harrowing, and our hearts ache for the innocent lives lost and impacted by the violence there. As we pray for a peaceful and swift end to the war, hotels are supporting humanitarian relief efforts in a number of ways, including offering housing to refugees and donating to relief organizations. The spirit of hospitality is what drives us as an industry, and in dark times like these, it’s one of the things the world needs most. I’m proud of the many ways the hotel industry is helping to fulfill that need.”