BlogShifting the “Season of Giving” to a Year-Long Habit
lagoon decorated with christmas lights

Shifting the “Season of Giving” to a Year-Long Habit

For ages, the Christmas holiday has fondly been labeled the season of giving. It can be so rewarding to see the look on a loved one’s face when they receive the perfect, thoughtful gift. The act of gift giving feels good, doesn’t it? Recognizing that the holidays can be very difficult for those in need as well, families often build charity into their holiday traditions to donate time or money to various different organizations. Giving to those in need is more than charity – it’s the gift of hope. Giving during the holidays can be very rewarding, but what if we all decided to take it a step further, and integrate the spirit of giving into our everyday lives instead of being limited to a single season, once a year?

At the Princess, year-round philanthropy is more than a buzzword to us, it’s a core belief – and one that we use as an opportunity to connect with the communities in our city where many of our guests live and work, engage with our employees, and invest in future generations. From partnering with Cox Charities and Make-A-Wish Foundation to immense time and effort spent re-envisioning our sustainability footprint as a large business, we aim to affect lasting positive change all around us.

Make-A-Wish and Cox Charities

For many years, the Princess has partnered with Cox Charities to create impact in people’s lives, and this year we are thrilled to announce a new co-partnership with Make-A-Wish Arizona. As a part of Fairmont’s new global campaign, Wishes Start Here, the Princess is dedicated to transforming a child’s most cherished dream into a reality, leaving them with incredible memories that will last a lifetime. This year, we helped make one wish kid’s dream come true. Hannah, an 18 year old on dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant wished to spend a whimsical and wintery Christmas with her family. We were thrilled to host her and her family to join us for our 13th Annual Christmas at the Princess Tree Lighting Ceremony, and Hannah was the very person who illuminated the four story tree – creating magic for all in attendance, and signaling the official start of the Christmas season here in Scottsdale. The first wish granted of many to come!

Along with our partnership with Make-A-Wish comes the Make-A-Wish playhouse, designed for kids – by kids. Inside awaits all the dream elements kids wished for, such as oodles of building games, a spiral slide, space for endless dancing and a beautiful living room filled with teddies. Displayed at the entrance of Christmas at the Princess, we encourage all families in attendance to play inside, meet a real life princess, and ignite their wish at the wish station by writing their heart’s true desire on special wish paper and setting it ablaze to take flight into the heavens to come true. 

“Make-A-Wish Arizona is excited to be a part of the Christmas at the Princess festivities, especially with the Make-A-Wish house that was built by the Fairmont properties to showcase our strong partnership,” said Fran Mallace, President and Chief Executive Officer for Make-A-Wish Arizona. “We cannot wait to see all that we can accomplish together as Make-A-Wish Arizona works toward granting more wishes this year than ever before. We are honored to partner with the Fairmont Princess and appreciative of how they have embraced our wish kids and wish families in the past, present and future.”

Sustainability Initiatives

Details, small changes and little actions add up. That’s how we’ve decided to tackle sustainability and our footprint on the environment. Michael Ortiz takes the lead at the resort as the Process Improvement and Sustainability Manager. “Sustainability is important to me for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most compelling is the simple fact that it just makes sense. After all, we only have one planet, and it’s up to us to take care of it,” says Ortiz. The Princess’ main goal for 2022 was to eliminate single-use plastic in all formats across the resort, and commit to only working with suppliers whose products are manufactured in a way that respects human rights, labor laws and community well-being. “It’s not just about preserving the environment for its own sake. Sustainability also has the potential to improve our quality of life and create more equitable and just societies… We can create healthier communities and a more livable world for all”. 

Similarly, we source as many products, produce and meat as we possibly can locally. Not only does this support the businesses in our immediate community, but this action limits emissions from long distance travel for items to reach us. We even go so far as to harvest from the plants we have on property – citrus from our trees and prickly pear from our cactus – and utilize them in creative ways throughout our dishes and cocktails to flavor your meals, and engage our various employees across departments in an opportunity to ignite their passion for sustainability. “Knowledge is power. When we understand the impact of our actions on the environment and on others, we are more likely to make choices that align with our values and contribute to the common good,” and Ortiz is passionate about passing this insight along to all he meets.

At the Princess, guests aren’t the only one recharging their batteries on property. Our premises are equipped with six charging stations for electric vehicles, with plans to add many more in the future in anticipation of the societal move toward a global reduction of carbon emissions. In this same vein, we also offer our guests the opportunity to reuse towels and act in favor of Net Positive Hospitality by leaving them on the towel holder instead of the ground for replacement daily. The water and energy savings finance reforestation projects like Plant-for-the-Planet, focused on tackling the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. To date, the Princess has helped plant over 7,000 trees locally, and is part of the global initiative to plant one tree per minute. Food waste can also be astonishing when you examine the output from a large business. All recoverable food at the Princess is donated to the local community to help prevent hunger and we choose to sort and recover all food waste for composting on a large scale. We are the first hotel in Arizona to take this course of action! 

As an ambassador for the resort, Mr. Ortiz says “these actions … have a direct impact on the well-being of the communities in which we operate and the people who rely on these resources. Sustainability is more important now than ever before, as the challenges facing our planet are becoming increasingly urgent. From climate change to biodiversity loss, it is up to all of us to take action and make a difference. [The Princess is] proud of the progress we have made in these areas… Together, we can make a real difference and create a better world for ourselves and future generations.”

Employee Engagement & Charity Initiatives

We aim to empower our employees to follow the paths we’ve chosen as a business, and provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to engage with our local community. As a cornerstone to our business, we encourage our peers to have hospitality at the heart of all we do and to become what we refer to as Heartists. “Being a Heartist is our common mission, our purpose, our values and [our way of] building unforgettable experiences with human connections and real emotions that truly come for the heart,” says Joanna Jara, the resort’s Director of Talent Acquisition. “It’s fun, daring [and] challenges the status quo”. 

Ms. Jara and the entire Talent and Culture department at the Princess continually re-think the best ways to engage the employees at the Princess and affect change in a meaningful way. “By being a Heartist, this also means helping out our local community. Being able to provide financial and resource assistance, this is just another way to connect with their hearts,” says Jara.  Many of resort’s team building events encourage charity efforts – such as volunteer work at Phoenix Build-A-Kit, assembling 1,200 school supply kits for the students of the Maricopa-Pima and Navajo Nations – and we regularly hold auctions and donation opportunities on the premises for our employees.

In recent months we’ve held at least 8 charity initiatives supporting a diverse selection of local communities including: a Thanksgiving food drive that raised over 915 lbs. of food donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank, a silent auction to benefit Maricopa Animal Safe Haven as well as Donors Choose which provides underprivileged schools supplies in Arizona, a blood drive with Vitalant, a Pride bake sale benefitting the Trevor Project, an Earth Day E-Waste technology recycling drive, women’s supply drives for Maggie’s Place and Shoebox Ministries benefitting women and children who have escaped domestic violence, and a fundraiser for the Ukrainian war effort resulting in $17,630 donated from employees alone.

We do all of this to say thank you to all of you who continue to support our business, and to pay it forward to those who need it most. Many of the actions we take as a business are small independently, but together they amount to a huge shift in the needle, both locally and globally. As we continue to reinvent ways to give back, we will always be Princess Proud to be a part of the Scottsdale community and a driver for positive change in sustainability and the lives of those around us. Want to make a change with us? We are always looking to hire more Heartists with a passion for the community. Start your journey with us as you become a key player in creating the extraordinary every day. 

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