India has entered the third phase of the lockdown period raising hopes that it will soon be over. But many will need support to navigate the pandemic for months. Among those who have truly risen to the occasion at this time of immense need is the hotel industry – whether by whipping up meals for daily wagers and health care workers or by extending a much-needed helping hand to the elderly and the differently-abled.
Their kitchens may be more accustomed to gourmet cooking but luxury hotel chains are meeting the need of the hour by distributing wholesome, nutritious meals to those who struggle to make ends meet. Among those on the frontlines of the initiative are The Oberoi hotels, Marriott Hotels, Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), The Leela, ITC Hotels, Hyatt, Roseate Hotels & Resorts, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, THE Park Hotels and The LaLiT group.
The numbers they distribute with the help of NGOs are significant – for example, IHCL of the Tata group has distributed more than one million meals to stranded migrant workers and healthcare providers.
And as the lockdown grinds on, the hotels are scaling up their efforts. “We are doing our bit for society in this time of crisis by providing cooked food to 1000 underprivileged people everyday and hope to increase the number in next few days,” says Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Roseate Hotels & Resorts.
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The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata has been offering meals to the underprivileged through the Missionaries of Charity while The Oberoi Bengaluru sends food to the staff at St. Philomena’s Hospital. The police force doesn’t have it easy either so The Leela Ambience Gurgaon offers hot beverages twice a day to those posted at the Delhi-Gurgaon border.
Standalone hotels are also doing their bit – The Grand Dragon Ladakh has been giving fresh packed lunch and dinner to the SNM Hospital-Leh.
The initiative does not stop with cooked meals – some hotels are also distributing dry rations. Marriott and Leela hotels have made care packages of essential rations for those without the means to buy food.
THE Park Bangalore has started a ‘Free Food Hour’ where from 5pm to 6 pm they give a food bag to the needy.
Masks and shower caps
Did you know that besides masks, even shower caps can play a crucial role to protect health care workers? So hotels like ITC in Jaipur and Goa are donating shower caps to hospitals who are running short of it. Some are stitching up thousands of masks – The Grand Dragon Ladakh has given 5000 double layer washable masks while JW Marriott, Mussoorie has made 500 using sustainable linen.
Helping senior citizens and differently abled
It is tough for the elderly living on their own to step out of the house for groceries and medicines. So the Park Hotels launched #THEParkHeartOfHope in Bangalore, Chennai, Goa and Hyderabad. “Anybody, especially the senior citizens can call us for any help, be it groceries, medicines or food. Our team responds to the request immediately, taking all safety precautions,” says Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Limited.
The Clarks hotel in Shimla is distributing dry food items for two weeks to the needy with the promise of replenishing them.
Accommodation and Quarantine Quarters
There is an immense challenge faced by doctors and healthcare workers who often cannot even go home since they are treating Covid-19 patients. Hoping to ease their burden, some hotels have welcomed doctors with open arms offering them a comfortable resting place. These include Trident at Nariman Point in Mumbai, The Lalit in New Delhi, Leela Ambience Convention Hotel Delhi among several others. The housekeeping protocol is very strict and the cleaning staff wears Hazmat Suits while cleaning the rooms.
The Noor Mahal hotel in Karnal is providing doctors free stays, meals, laundry and pick-and-drop services to their work. Also, some IHCL hotels are offering rooms to medical workers, while some Ginger hotels are being used for quarantine purposes.
The LaLit has gone a step further to focus on mental health. The Keshav Suri Foundation has launched the ‘Queering Quarantine’ series of online workshops and talks by counsellors and psychotherapists. You can even take a free counselling session.
We do not know when we will be able to go back to these hotels but even without guests to welcome, they have truly lived up to the spirit of Indian hospitality.