Radisson Blu Hotel Resort, El Quseir – a model for ethical responsible hospitality businesses second to none.

Radisson Blu El QuseirIn my capacity as a professional wedding and social events photographer I have wide experience of a full range of venues including hotels of various star gradings and have unique insights from this experience of the modern hospitality industry  and, were I to be asked which venue is the very model of all that is best in the hospitality industry and ethical business practices I can think of no other that maintains higher standards in every area including staff excellence and engagement than the Radisson Blu Hotel Resort at El Quiseir . It simply ticks all the boxes and is furthermore a genuinely responsible and ethical trader not just a brand with hollow mission statement rhetoric as many company’s sadly still are.

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poster - brief history of radisson green credentials

poster – brief history of Radisson Blu  green credentials

 

It was , I hear , the vision of Swedish philanthropist  Peder Wallenberg to build a first class hotel and resort in an area of formerly  barren Red Sea costal desert specifically to create a  tourist industry for the nearby small town of El Quseir and genuinely support its people in a variety of ways and help boost its ailing local economy and counteract general poverty. This included sourcing fresh food and materials locally, helping local charities and for example creating and  funding an education centre for local kids.

 

It also embedded as normal practice  a range of responsible policies to ensure minimum impact on the local environment with for example , active recycling, energy saving lighting, use of grey water sourced from the hotels own well, absence of chemicals in cleaning products , water saving measure and a raft of other environmentally friendly embedded ethical behaviours as standard.

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They have constructed a huge pool and stocked it with various fish both for the enjoyment of guests and eventually as a source of food using water from their well with streams either side filtering into what was to be an additional organic style lagoon swimming pool.

Water oxygenated by pumping well water in several parts of the pnd.

Water oxygenated by pumping well water in several parts of the pnd.

 

Sadly due to the high daily temperature and shallowness of the water a big algae problem developed. Thus the bottom pool had , reluctantly to be chlorinated but the upper pools left unchlorinated and it became the daily chore of the gardening staff  use nets and brushes to clear the algae.

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The hotel run’s a conservation project to support the rare and highly endangered Egyptian Tortoise and is beginning another initiative to cultivate fish and to use the resultant water , high in nutrients from fish droppings to cultivate plants for food for the hotel.

There are some 250 local people on the staff who have all been given free professional training in house and college based  in hospitality, IT, languages and other relevant skill areas and  many of them are the sole bread winner for their families. During the recent crisis caused by the “Arab Spring “ and  unrest in the major cities of Egypt government foreign offices wrongly advised that all of Egypt was no longer safe to travel and  this relatively remote  and very safe hotel resort suffered badly in terms of occupancy rates crashing from the mid 80% to little over 10%. The overheads for staffing and maintaining such a large complex to the highest standards are of course considerable and it would not have been unreasonable for the owners to have put a large number of staff out of a job.

But , as a responsible ethical business the owner was confident that the situation would be temporary and the hotel would recover in time and get back to full occupancy and thus agreed to keep and fund the staff. As things recovered however it was thought vital to source new customers and the local choice was either Russian or Italian visitors – having compared the two cultures at other resorts  it was easy to choose the polite, temperate friendly Italians and hence , on the first week of my stay there four fifths of the guests were Italian families, and the second week, in keeping with the start back to school in Italy, two fifths of the occupancy were Italians but of those only a handful of children.

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Although you would expect very high standards of accommodation, amenities , food and service in a five star resort (it offers all those things in spades)  it’s the genuine  friendly courtesy of the hard working dedicated staff in all roles throughout the resort that makes staying here such a delight. The senior management must be thrilled to have an entire staff who are very evidently so proud to be working here, are totally engaged in their work and all so genuinely welcoming and helpful.

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It comes as no surprise whatsoever that my elderly mother, now in her ninety first year , has stayed here on ten occasions , for a month at a time and only recently stayed again just for two weeks because the travel company were uneasy about her travelling without a carer when she had fallen on the previous visit and spent the last week in a nearby hospital. Thus I had the pleasure of travelling with her and so looked forward to the opportunity of experiencing the hospitality she never stopped  talking about when she got home. The hotel resort exceeded all expectations and my mother was again treated like royalty by the staff as if she was family and I felt like a VIP too.

Mum had developed a routine over the years she has been staying here, despite the incredible range and variety of all that wonderful food – her breakfast  was always a freshly cooked single egg mushroom omelette, bread roll with butter and coffee. For lunch and evening meal she wanted freshly made mushroom soup and each day those things appeared magically, usually in the hands of her favourite waiter and friend Eslam.

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In the second week she became a little more adventurous and would walk over to the fruit and desert counters to add another course to the soup one. Often Eslam would help her and , when pomegranates were not out, for example, he would always go and find some for her. Nothing was too much trouble.

Mum likes to sit in the sun by the pool  near the main building close to a loo by the pool but only a short walk to the eating areas. Every morning, beyond the call of duty and the hotel’s towel card system,  the man in charge of the towels ,Abdou, wDSC_1604 on her leg one day he spent half an hour giving her first aid and came back next day with some cream for the injury. I lost my voice one day (all those hellos I shouted in Italian and Arabic) plus singing along to lovely  Akmed , the singer keyboard player who entertained us at one of the beach bars in the evening. When I saw Eismat next day he went off , came back with fresh mint leaves , honey and sharp lemons and made me a remedy at the bar to soothe my throat.

I fell having tripped on a path going down to the beach bar  late one night and cut my head, knee and heel and my German companion Oliver insisted I went to reception to see the doctor. The house doctor was called and arrived within ten minutes from his home.

The excellent hotel doctor

The excellent hotel doctor

( He’s responsible for all the staff as well as guests.) He was charming , very thorough, stitched my head and dressed the other injuries. Alas he said no swimming in the sea of showers to avoid possible infection!  I did have to call in and see him to have the dressings changed but such a great guy.

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Sadly Mum slipped in the loo on her very last day early morning and the hotel staff , house keeping and front of house people were brilliant. She had a bad cut on her head. They helped clean her up, get her to reception and  again the doctor came . He stitched her head and bandaged her up on site. she was dreading having to go to hospital and happy she did not have to thanks to the doctor’s care. All that last day staff showed such care and concern for her – happily she was fit to fly and is hoping to go again. Her health visibly improved within just a few days at the resort her movement was better getting round and she was much more out going and chatty. All through our stay as shifts of staff changed people who remembered her so fondly would greet her warmly and genuinely happy to see her again.

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As a nation we are inclined to complain of things don’t go well but less inclined to offer positive constructive feedback ( so vital for the genuine businesses like this Radisson flagship who value feedback as a means of self assessment and looking at potential problems and ways to further improve and I sure some people can never be pleased and actually look for things to complain about. I have written two very positive and constructive unsolicited reviews , one for Trip Advisor and the other for Hotel Check for this great hotel and in fact also have shared countless photographs of the resort from my two week stay there generating extraordinary activity on my Facebook from friends but also staff and guests I met there who joined my friends list. I have no professional connection with the hotel whatsoever  – I simply became a huge fan of its facilities, location and accommodation, food and exceptional genuine service and wanted to show the lovely staff how much I valued their efforts.date palm Radisson Blu

I like to snorkel but don’t do sun bathing and it was a great joy as an ardent  photographer to find so many great things to photograph and that included shooting most of the staff at work to share with them as public recognition for the great job they all do.

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The hotel gets generally great feedback on Trip Advisor from the range of nationalities they serve and either the General Manager or the front of house manager always responds to every review from guests and openly address any issues they raise in an attentive, courteous, professional  and friendly manner.

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