Mandarin Oriental London employees will donate about 40,000 hours to good causes across the capital as they wait for repairs to be completed after a fire forced the closure of the hotel earlier this year.
The 181-bedroom, five-red-AA-star, Knightsbridge hotel closed its doors after a blaze broke out on 6 June, just a week after a multimillion-pound renovation had been unveiled.
While repairs are carried out, ahead of an anticipated reopening in the fourth quarter of the year, new general manager Amanda Hyndman faced the challenge of keeping her workforce motivated and thanking all those who had offered help.
She told The Caterer: "We had a lot of support from the industry, the community and the general public so we wanted to give something back. We're in this situation where we've got time on our hands and we really wanted to do something meaningful to thank the local community.
Colleagues gathered together in the aftermath of the fire to discuss how 450 staff, who had found themselves without day jobs, could make a difference across London and devised the Fantastic London campaign.
Since that meeting staff have already volunteered at Oxfam charity shops, driven vans and organised stock for The Felix Project - which collects food that cannot be sold and distributes it to charities who provide meals for vulnerable people, given time to Kitchen Social - which provides healthy meals for children during school holidays as well as working with homeless charity The Passage, Evelina children's hospital, London Fire Brigade and employment support charity, Resurgo.
Hyndman added: "It's a wide range of things, it's where we felt we could make a difference and give time while we have so much time on our hands."
It's also important for Hyndman that the hotel's staff are kept engaged while it remains closed. She explained: "A hotel is bricks and mortar, even if it's the most beautiful hotel. The difference is the people, we have people here with very long service, with all their skills and knowledge, and my absolute priority since the incident has been to make sure that when we reopen we have all 600 colleagues in place because the last thing I want to do is lose them to other employers.
"The whole emphasis is to keep them motivated and engaged but what's been coming out of it is the fun they've had, the pride and achievement. It's incredibly rewarding and very humbling."
The Fantastic London campaign was unveiled at a boat party on the River Thames yesterday, with a second event to follow.
Photos by Marius Bukis