More than 40 Starwood hotels across the Middle East are joining forces to support Starwood Hotels & Resorts 5th annual associate fundraising campaign ‘Road to Awareness’ through various local fundraising initiatives and events.
This year’s ‘Road to Awareness’ campaign raises money for UNICEF’s Early Childhood Care and Education programme in Ethiopia. The aim of the project is to provide the most disadvantaged children in rural communities with pre-primary education so they are better prepared to start going to school.
In Ethiopia, over 80 percent of the population live in rural communities and many children have to survive on less than US$1 a day. A lack of education and no access to pre-school is seen as one of the key barriers to a child not being able to reach their full potential and escape a life of poverty.
The money raised through Starwood’s ‘Road to Awareness’ campaign - which includes local fundraising initiatives across hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East as well as an annual fundraising bike ride - will help tackle this by giving thousands of the most vulnerable children in Ethiopia access to pre-school and the chance of a brighter future. Starwood’s support will contribute to the construction of 10 pre-schools, provide pre-school education to up to 50,000 children aged six and enable UNICEF to train 10,000 young instructors to aide their learning.
In 2011, Starwood raised over US$600,000 through the ‘Road to Awareness’ campaign which helped to support UNICEF projects in Romania and Pakistan, directly benefiting some 150 schools in these two countries. The hotels in the Middle East raised over US$180,000, beating the region’s original target of US$166,600. This year, 41 hotels and its associates aim to surpass last year’s achievement through initiatives as diverse as charity golf tournaments, cupcake bake sales, jazz galas, silent auctions, talent shows and more.
Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for Starwood Hotels and Resorts in the Middle East said of this year’s fundraising initiative: “This year, we have over 40 hotels in Middle East involved in creative and engaging ways of raising money for the incredible work carried out by UNICEF. The generosity and spirit demonstrated by Starwood associates across the region is truly inspiring and I’m honoured to be part of the team. This year, we’ve set our sights high in the hope of once again beating our target and making the largest regional contribution to the Road to Awareness campaign, which will help to make a real difference to the lives and futures of children who need it most.”
UNICEF UK Director and Chief Executive David Bull said: “UNICEF is incredibly proud of our long and successful partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Together, we are achieving phenomenal results for children. For over 16 years, our partnership has served as a strong and unique example of our shared values and commitment to creating a world fit for children.”
With the aim of raising additional funds for those children most in need, this year a group of cyclists consisting of senior leaders and other hotel representatives from across Starwood’s Europe, Africa and Middle East region will embark on the fifth ‘Road to Awareness’ bike ride challenge. Starwood has decided to take their brave riders a bit further and higher than ever before, travelling for four days over the hills of the Tour de France. The riders will start in Chamonix, finishing after a gruelling 570 kilometres in Monte Carlo where they will have climbed 170 kilometres and a gradient of 9,000 metres over the four day bike ride. Guido De Wilde, one of the pioneers of the ‘Road to Awareness’ initiative, and two other Middle East representatives, Nemo Acimovic, General Manager of Le Méridien Abu Dhabi and Szilveszter Toth, Food and Beverage Operations Manager of The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, will represent the Middle East.
“We believe that every child has the right to go to school. That is why we have chosen to focus on providing children in need with access to education. We are convinced that for these children education is the door that opens opportunities and will enable them to become fully independent members of society,” Roeland Vos, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts for Europe, Africa & Middle East says. “It is thanks to the amazing efforts and ongoing commitment of our enthusiastic hotel teams, cyclists and supportive partners that, together with UNICEF, we will be able to make a huge difference to the lives of children in Ethiopia.”
In addition to the ‘Road to Awareness’ associate fundraising campaign, Starwood continues its on-going guest fundraising efforts for UNICEF through the ‘Check Out for Children’ programme, which launched in 1995. It is a partnership between Starwood Hotels & Resorts and UNICEF whereby guests at participating Starwood hotels around the world agree to the addition of US$1 (or local currency equivalent) to their bills when they check out. Last year, the ‘Check Out for Children’ programme celebrated a remarkable milestone with