Unexpected Gratitude and Holiday Hugs

The employees of The Ritz-Carlton hotels—also known as the Ladies and Gentlemen—plan community service activities throughout the year to support their local communities. This is an opportunity for hotels around the world to make a lasting contribution and truly make a difference. As we enter the holiday season, the story below is a wonderful example of how important it is to include others in our celebrations and express gratitude for all the gifts around us.

And so our story begins . . .

Once upon a time, the Community Footprints team at Abama Golf & Spa Resort in Spain was planning its December activities. For most, December is a special month. It’s a time when we think of the people we love—our family and friends—and so this month is often nostalgic and full of memories. Therefore, the Community Footprints team decided to focus on those who did not family or friends to sing songs with, give a hug to, or spend their holidays with. The Elder’s Home in Guia Isora next to the hotel was chosen for this very special activity.

While planning the activities, the team decided that a game called “The Tree of Wishes” would be enjoyed by the group of senior citizens. The team brought a beautiful wooden Christmas tree from the Kids Club, which had been designed by the Ladies and Gentlemen, to the Senior Citizens Home. Each resident decorated a Christmas ornament and wrote a Christmas wish on it. The hotel’s General Manager was in charge of hanging the ornaments on the tree and if people wanted to share their wishes, the General Manager read them out loud. Many of the wishes were quite emotional: “I wish my son could find a job,” “I wish I could spend some time with my family,” “I wish my daughters could come more often to see me,” and “I wish not to be forgotten and to be remembered by someone someday.”

The team also gave the residents a huge basket of cakes that had been prepared by the resort’s Executive Pastry Chef and his team. The residents loved having hot chocolate with the cakes. Everyone enjoyed a fantastic time and beautiful conversations with these charming people who had so much to tell and share. The Ladies and Gentlemen gave each resident a plant with a lovely note, and the residents were so grateful and pleased that they didn’t even have words to thank the Ladies and Gentlemen. The games, the cakes and the gifts were greatly appreciated.

Recognition and Gratitude

The Ladies and Gentlemen then announced that they had one final thing to give to the residents … and that was, “Thank you!” The Ladies and Gentlemen explained that many of the residents had worked in the local fields 50 years ago, and had also helped build the hotel. The Ladies and Gentlemen thanked the residents because they had worked so hard to ensure a good future, and without their hard work, there wouldn’t be an Abama Golf & Spa Resort. Several of the residents welled up with tears. They had not expected to be recognized and thanked for their work, and they were truly touched. Before leaving, the Ladies and Gentlemen gave the residents a picture showing the hotel now compared to how it looked 50 years ago—photographic evidence that their hard work had helped create a beautiful property.

The Ladies and Gentlemen were grateful to dedicate their time and effort to these wonderful people. It was a magical afternoon! 

The Ritz-Carlton invites you to participate in Give Back Getaways. Our guests are invited to join our employees in half-day voluntourism experiences that contribute something meaningful to our communities. Each Give Back Getaways project is unique to the destination, and there is one constant — each experience makes a lasting contribution.