By Jorge J. J. Martínez
The Palace Foundation was created in 2004 to address the Corporate Social Responsibility efforts of this Mexican hotel chain whose history spans more than 30 years. Daniela Vargas León, managing director of the Palace Foundation, tells us about this project’s most exciting and innovative aspects.
In the beginning, the Foundation’s first three areas of focus were health, education, and the environment. To date, five programs and three social projects have emerged from these three areas.
“We strive to make a global impact by working locally and helping the community and our team members, and we try to mitigate the carbon footprint of our guests and groups,” said the managing director.
What’s New: Refettorio Mérida.
The Foundation typically operates in the destinations where the hotel has properties (Mexico and Jamaica). The Refettorio Mérida is the exception to the rule, as “La Ciudad Blanca” (The White City) does not have a Palace hotel, but it is the owners Chapur family’s birthplace.
The Refettorio Mérida consists of transforming food surpluses, giving it new life by creating luxury dishes and donating them to the neediest.
Chef Massimo Bottura, one of the best chefs in the world, started a similar project in 2018. When looking for allies, he found the Palace Foundation, which is his partner in Mexico. Volunteers range from apprentices to chefs of international stature.
“It’s beautiful that with the creativity of Michelin-starred chefs like Massimo, food can be served at the table to bring dignity to the lives of people in vulnerable situations,” said Daniela Vargas.
Although the pandemic did not allow an official inauguration to occur, around 150 take-out meals were served daily from May to November 2020. From December 2020 to date, more than 30,000 meals have been served at the tables of Refettorio Merida.
In addition to offering free gourmet food, the Refettorio is located in a beautifully remodeled 100-year-old mansion. Diners receive special treatment, the menu is explained to them, and there are even showers for those who need them.
The Palace Foundation’s Casa Hogar and more ways to help
The Palace Foundation Casa Hogar is one of the most iconic and heartfelt projects of the Foundation. Since 2016 it has provided a home, education, physical, mental and emotional health, and other resources to help unparented children in their human development as they seek family reintegration.
The center has first-class facilities, consisting of eight villas that house 12 children each for a total of 96 children, who can enjoy a variety of recreational and leisure spaces.
There are many examples of support within the Health, Education, and Environment areas, ranging from a wheelchair to major surgery and higher education scholarships, not to mention sustainable actions regarding energy, trash, water conservation, and the protection of flora and fauna.
In addition to the above, the Foundation created the Dreams Committee, which works with children with cancer or terminal illnesses to help them fulfill their dreams, such as visiting the sea. Another entity, the Wellness Committee, focuses mainly on supporting employees with therapies for stress management and labor and family conflicts.
When it comes to certifications, their philosophy is clear: “There are many certificates that are paid for, but the Palace philosophy is not to pay for certifications, but rather to do what is necessary to earn them,” said Vargas León.
Daniela is a psychologist, and her relationship with the Palace Foundation began when they started Casa Hoga, a place for which she has a special appreciation. We simply have to thank and congratulate her and the entire Palace Foundation family for their commendable work with society and the planet.