Corinthia Hotels has 2,500 full-time and 500 part-time employees around the world, in locales including Lisbon, Paris and St Petersburg. Each hotel within the group is given free reign to make Christmas special for its people, but some treats are becoming worldwide traditions.
Rachel Begbie, learning, development and wellbeing director at Corinthia Hotels, says: “When I started working in hotels, the [organisation] I worked for used to give me a turkey and a bottle of wine at Christmas. That was all well and good, but today people are looking for an experience.”
Wherever they are situated, the hotels usually have an employee restaurant. At Christmas, the restaurants are turned into fine dining experiences, complete with linen, silver and glassware. Staff are served by their bosses, who seat them, take their order and serve them a delicious multi-course meal. “The employees really appreciate it and feel special as a result,” says Begbie. This meal typically takes place the week before Christmas, and this year is planned for the week commencing 17 December 2018.
“The Christmas lunch was being done in some hotels and not in others,” Begbie states. “So, 2018 will see a consistent approach across the brand. Lots of Christmas lunches will be served, be it turkey, lamb, fish or whatever is the custom in each destination.”
A children’s Christmas party is another landmark in Corinthia Hotels’ calendar; this is traditionally held on a weekend before Christmas, dependent on the availability of each hotel’s function rooms. “Our hotels are usually beautifully decorated at Christmas, so we have Christmas party for children,” Begbie explains.
“Employees come with their spouses and children to one of the large function rooms in our hotels. It will have been transformed into a children’s heaven with lots of activities like face painting, cookie decorating, Christmas-card making, plus delicious food and Father Christmas or Papa Noël, depending on where we are in the world. It is something children really look forward to; they tend to remember the Christmas party and ask if there will be a party this year.” This party has been a particularly well-loved fixture at Corinthia Hotels’ Lisbon venue, which has been running the event for the past 13 years.
Between 50 and 100 children will typically attend each hotel’s Christmas party, along with their parents, one or both of whom may be employees at Corinthia Hotels. For 2018, the children’s Christmas party will, for the first time, become a fixture in all locations. Begbie says: “When I visited the hotels at the beginning of the year, some did a party for children, some just gave a gift and some did not do anything, so 2018 will see a consistent approach across the brand.”
Creating this family-centric spirit at work is all-important for Begbie and her team. “It is looking at people holistically. They come to us with a life and it’s great to be able to enable employees with children to share Christmas at the [hotels] as well,” she says.