by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | February 01, 2005
In the wake of the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami disaster that decimated large coastal areas of South Asia, hotel companies across the globe channeled their energies into a massive fund-raising effort.
    Over the past month, hotel chains have mobilized their work forces and raised millions of dollars that is being funneled to the stricken region through several international relief organizations, including the American Red Cross and UNICEF.
    At White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., a Tsunami Relief Fund was created, to which employees of the chain’s 750 hotels contributed directly through payroll deductions.
    Starwood properties affected by the disaster include the Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket and Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort in Thailand, and the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort and Sheraton Perdana Resort, Langkawi, in Malaysia. While the resorts sustained minimal structural damage, several employees lost their homes and all of their belongings.
    “Care packages with basic necessities such as toothbrushes and shampoo, as well as money from a donation drive among guests and management of the hotels, are  being distributed to those in need,” said a Singapore-based spokesperson for Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts.
    One week after the devastation, London-based InterContinental Hotels Group had committed $125,000 in funds to UNICEF to match the donations of contributions made by its employees, vendors and hotel owners. “We hope our commitment will motivate even more organizations to come forward to support these countries, whether it is through funds to bring in food and medical supplies or simply to lend a hand,” said an IHG spokesperson.
    Of the chain’s two Holiday Inns in the affected areas, the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket was the worst hit, losing several guests and employees and sustaining considerable damage. The property remains closed indefinitely.
While none of Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ 45 properties were affected by the disaster, the chain’s employees raised more than $295,000 in aid to be distributed by the Red Cross.
    In New York City, the Amsterdam Hospitality Group promised to contribute $1 per night for every reservation booked and completed from Jan. 9 through March 1 at any of its five properties.