TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
Monday, July 16, 2018
Liutauras Vaitkevicius, General Manager at Good Hotel London
TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
by Beren Dere
An unusual construction process, a very different location, a problem-solving approach on a local basis, a comprehensive social responsibility project on the international scene, and a dedicated team that accomplishes them. It's all Marten Dresen's idea. Good Hotel London is a unique place where these features come together. This is a hotel that combines social responsibility with a quality service philosophy. When guests stay at Good Hotel London, they know that their days will be Good and they contribute to a Good Cause. I had the opportunity to meet with Liutauras Vaitkevicius, General Manager at Good Hotel London, and I asked him questions about Good Hotel London and The Good Cause.
Good Hotel London
Liutauras, how did you decide to leave your profit based hotels career back and join a hotel group which has a "profit for no profit" motto, Good Hotels?
It really was a no-brainer. Much different from the traditional charity approach, our business model is based on self-reliance and real sustainability. In many ways, we are not so different from traditional businesses. We are a revenue-generating profit-making hotel, which means we need to compete against everyone just like a traditional hotel. We also need to ensure our guests are happy and well looked after day in and day out. If we don't have these basics in place, nothing else works. In that respect, Good Hotel London is no different from any other organisation I have worked at. But what really makes us different is our philosophy, our founding story, and our goals. Here at Good Hotels, we trully believe in making a difference. Where other businesses create sustainability programmes along the way, we have rethought the entire process and build social responsibility into everything we do. This starts with the local members of our team, the training programme for the unemployed, responsible supplier sourcing, and donations to Ninos de Guatemala. The end goal is to make the world a better place by helping people locally as well as internationally. So it is how and why we do business that made me join The Good Group. Good business is still important, but it's means and not the purpose here. And for me personally, this is the best motivation in the world.
Which thought and purpose of Good Hotels are influenced you the most?
It's the underlying philosophy of positivity, positive impact, and responsibility. What that means to us here on a daily basis is a friendly and positively challenging work environment. All of this translates into higher life perspective. Openness is also a huge part of a worldview. Where some organisations keep things hidden or even secret, we are very open and honest about ourselves. In the end, we would like to be the ones to influence others. We want people to copy us, to think of even better ways to bring change, to help those around them, and ensure it's sustainable long-term.
Good Hotel London
Good Hotel London is located in London but it was not constructed in there. How does it possible? Could you briefly tell us the story of a former Dutch government-owned immigration detention vessel that converted into a hotel building?
Much like our finding origins, our hotel itself has an incredible history. It was built by the Dutch government as a practical solution for a detention centre. So the purpose of this platform right from day one, was to solve a problem. In that core sense of purpose, the platform is still being used to this day. However, now it has become a community centre, a place where people meet each other, have conversations, generate ideas, and contribute to the higher audacious goal. This very much is one of our core philosophical principles – changing our environment for the better. It is often by re-thinking and re-purposing our spaces that we can make the best impact.
Good Hotel London
Where is Good Hotel London located in? What are the advantages of being there for your guests? Do you have any plan to change your location in the future?
Good Hotel is located in the Royal Victoria Dock, London. Most guests know this area as newly developing and re-generating East London. Of course, the huge reason for being here has historically been the London Excel Exhibition Centre. More recently, the Docklands has become known as a hub for water sports, various festivals, and events. We are really excited to be part of this re-generation process and we see huge opportunities for community activities in years to come. So our plan is really to continue being part of the community for years to come right here, in East London.
Good Hotel London
Could you tell us about The Good Training program? How do you help local businesses and local residents?
The Good Training programme has two main aims. One is to solve unemployment issues here in the London Borough of Newham. Second is to lead the way in the industry by bringing fresh new talent into hospitality. On this, we work extremely closely with the local council to ensure we maximise social return on the project. Each quarter we take up to 20 previously unemployed locals with the aim to give them skills and experience to be successful in later life. The essense of the programme is very straightforward - it starts with one month of classroom work (theoretical training), followed by 3 months of paid practical work. The way we see it, our trainees are as excellent and as committed as our regular colleagues. The only difference is the lack of experience. If you come to our hotel at any point, you will see the entire team in the same uniform, having the same positive can-do attitude. There is really no way to tell apart who is a trainee or who is a full-time colleague. And that is how the programme has been designed - everyone has the same opportunities, same goal, and same great attitude.
Good Hotels has collaboration with Niños de Guatemala. Could you inform us about this main project?
We tend to think of this relationship as a family. Good Hotels were really preceeded by Ninos de Guatemala, and it gives us really strong sense of purpose and perspective. Ninos de Guatemala was started in 2007 by our CEO, Marten Dresen. It was really the beginning of our journey, the cornerstone of our values. Ninos has built and now run schools for underprivileged children near Antigua, Guatemala. It's really aimed at ensuring every child has a chance at an education and better future - something that we all take for granted here in Europe. Some in my team and I have met wonderful volunteers, teachers, and children in those schools. Which creates this very strong, very direct link and a sense of responsibility in our daily work. Because we know that better results here in London mean more funding for this extremely good cause.
After learning more details about Good Hotel social programs, now we can talk about Good Hotel London rooms and services. How many rooms do you have in your floating building? What type of different room options do you offer? What are their features and price range?
Good Hotel London has 148 bedrooms, 4 meeting rooms, full restaurant and an amazing RoofTop bar. Accommodation prices range from £85 to £220, and it really depends on season and events in the local area. It's always best to book earlier in advance. Best prices are always available on our website - www.goodhotellondon.com. Rooms are very functional, have amazingly comfortable beds, great fibre WiFi connection, and power showers. We really pride ourselves about our Living Room, which has now become a place to meet old and new friends, have meetings or have a community event.
Good Hotel London
Good Hotel London has unique views overlooking London & the river Thames. The Living Room and The Roof are the places that your guests could taste London as a meal and as a view, could you briefly tell us about them?
It really would not be possible without our passionate team of chefs, lead by Head Chef Miguelo Lucena. Much like our concept, our food offering is designed to be shared, as all ingredients are sourced from local sustainable suppliers. Reflecting flavours of London itself, we offer a variety of vegan, seafood, and meaty options for our guests. Rather than trying to have a huge offering, our concept is all about keeping food fresh, and maintain great quality at all times. All of our chefs have a great imagination which reflects in our Daily Specials, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting. If you are not here for food, I highly recommend speaking to our colleagues at the RoofTop Bar. Lead by our Food and Beverage manager, Altan Buyukgiray, the team have been working hard at perfecting our cocktail menu. Much like food, this reflects the energy, versatility, and freedom that London has to offer. And what's better than enjoying a cocktail overviewing the sunset over London? I dare you to find a better place than RoofTop at Good Hotel London!
Please tell us about your services and amenities. How could your guests spend time at Good Hotel London?
As a city hotel, we are very conscious that we are not final destination to our guests. We are often this mid-way point, a possibly helper and assistant on their onwards journey. So it is our responsibility to ensure they are comfortable. And this really starts with their arrival, their bedrooms, and our bar/restaurant offerings. Weather allowing, our RoofTop Bar is by far the biggest attraction here, and I highly recommend spending evenings here - enjoying the sunset and various water sport activities right in front of the hotel.
What features of Good Hotel London services sets it apart from other hotels in London?
Most definitely our colleagues here. It is their hard work, dedication, positive, helpful and supportive attitude that makes us so different. As a General Manager, I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved to date.
Good Hotel London
What kind of additional services do you offer for business travelers?
We really offer anything business travel might need here at the hotel. We have 4 excellent meeting rooms which directly overlook Royal Docks. Views are probably amongst the best in London. We also offer dry cleaning, free Wi-Fi, and printing services. All you have to do is ask our friendly team for assistance!
How can travelers make their individual or business/group reservations? Do you have any advantage packs that you offer to your regular and long-term guests?
Thanks to our brilliant reservations/sales/events team, there is very little we cannot do here. Led by a can-do attitude, our commercial team will always go out of their way to meet clients' needs. Different to some other hotel groups, we are really flexible and offer custom packages, tailored to individual needs. Simply get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we'll be sure to respond!
Which is the top season for travelers who want to visit London? What is the reason? What are the most famous attractions near you?
The most beautiful thing about London is that there are no bad times to visit us! It has quite rightly been named the unofficial cultural capital of the world, which means there are plenty of things to do and see any given day. When visiting Good Hotel London, I would highly recommend to use Emirates Airline from North Greenwich, visit Shoreditch and Tower of London. It's all only 20 minutes away from the hotel by public transport. And travelling to and from the hotel is incredibly easy at any time of the day.
If you have only one weekend in London as a first-time visitor, in this limited time, what are the best things to do?
Easy! In no particular order, go and do the following things: Emirates Airline for great panoramic views, Thames Clipper to feel the River Thames, Greenwich Park for picnic, Canary Wharf to get lost between skyscrapers, Shoreditch for artisan food and coffee, Tower of London for touch of history, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament for pictures, South Bank for art and culture, Natural History Museum for learning something new. And finally RoofTop at Good Hotel London for a delicious cocktail and sunset over London skyline
How do you describe London in one sentence?
True capital of the world, leading way in all areas of thought, progress and development.
Anything you would like to add that I haven't asked?
Thank you for the interview and hope to welcome you back to the hotel very very soon!
Thank you Liutauras.