With tackling climate change a pressing concern for us all, Oetker Collection has launched a range of initiatives to support local communities and help safeguard the planet. Colette Forder reveals some of the ways they are making a difference.
Planet Earth is in trouble, and it needs our help. Now that 97 per cent of climate experts are in agreement that global warming is a reality, and that humans are responsible for it, urgent action is required to minimise and mitigate the harm. Never before has corporate social responsibility (CSR) been so important, creating the opportunity for big business to make a real difference. No gesture is too small: sustainability is a global problem, but it can also be tackled at local, national, and regional levels.
The properties that make up Oetker Collection have all been addressing their responsibilities to the planet in different ways, whether by helping with local community projects, getting involved with ecology protection, or ditching single-use plastics. As Xenia zu Hohenlohe, the Managing Partner at Considerate Hoteliers, who is advising Oetker Collection on CSR, explains: “The trend for companies to embrace CSR and environmental actions is no longer a ’nice to have’ but a ‘must do’.”
L’Apogée Courchevel, for example, is making an important contribution to protecting biodiversity in its region of the French Alps. The ski retreat has renewed its ongoing partnership with the Vanoise National Park, which was established in 1963 to protect the Alpine ibex. To promote awareness of this vulnerable species, L’Apogée Courchevel sells plush toy goats to its guests, with all proceeds going to the cause. This collaboration has been so successful that the next ibex to be fitted with a GPS collar as part of the monitoring programme will be named after the resort.
Similar projects have been adopted by Château Saint-Martin & Spa in Vence, and Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes. The former is selling plush toy owls in support of the French Bird Protection League’s fight against biodiversity loss in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and the latter’s turtle toys highlight its association with a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Antibes Juan-les-Pins, which rescues and re-releases injured sea turtles.
It’s not just endangered species that are benefitting from Oetker Collection’s commitment to CSR. In São Paulo, Palácio Tangará is involved in a range of initiatives in the neighbouring Paraisópolis favela. It offers apprenticeships to favela youth, and use of the hotel’s sumptuous ballroom has also been given gratis to the Paraisópolis community orchestra and ballet.
At Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, meanwhile, the Alfred Brenner Foundation supports young talent entering the luxury hotel industry, and the annual artist-in-residence benefits from the estate’s own art gallery. The private park also features an orchard meadow, with local varieties of apple, and five colonies of bees, which both support biodiversity and provide locally produced honey for the restaurant.
Local habitats are equally prized at Eden Rock – St Barths and at Jumby Bay Island, off Antigua. The former is working to restore the aquatic habitats in its wilderness ponds, where countless species of bird and fish reside, and also grows much of its own produce. Jumby Bay’s kitchen garden is ever-expanding as it heads towards a fully sustainable table, and it has even started to supply its own desalinated, filtered water.
All of these steps towards sustainability, or protecting biodiversity, or helping communities, emphasise the symbiotic relationship between Oetker Collection hotels and their locations. These projects show that high-end hospitality is not at odds with these ideas, but is helping to drive them. As zu Hohenlohe says: “Sustainability, which to me is just good ‘housekeeping’, is the real contemporary luxury.”