Jo Finnigan, General Manager at Hotel St Moritz Queenstown
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INTERVIEW: Jo Finnigan, General Manager at Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

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We caught up with the inspiring Jo Finnigan the General Manager of Hotel St Moritz Queenstown to talk about the importance of sustainability.

L.N Jo, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background, do you remember when you discovered your passion for travel and hotels? Who or what triggered your interest?

J.F I suppose I’m not a typical hotelier as my background was in commercial property and I only came to the world of hotels when I chose Queenstown as my home. Hotel St Moritz has been my work-home for some 19 years, just five of those in the role of General Manager. My passion lies in looking after people – I was brought up in a family that entertained and hosted guests regularly, with grandparents who were the most gracious of hosts. Their warmth and generosity remain a real reference point for me.

L.N Can you tell us a bit about your current role as GM at Hotel St Moritz, Queenstown?

J.F Being a General Manager means I’m supporting several key functions each of which are key in delivering a valued experience for our guests. On any day I will be involved in decisions relating to the hotel asset, our talent, our food & beverage operation, our distribution partners, and of course getting to know our guests. The role is incredibly diverse and that’s what makes it fascinating.

L.N What are the challenges versus the rewards of looking after a hotel?

My current role is super rewarding and super challenging!  Hotels are fascinating places – they bring diverse groups of people together and that’s what I love. Seeing my team grow and thrive as they move through Queenstown on their travels, and seeing our guests come and go and return again to our familiar faces are the greatest rewards. There’s never a dull moment in our hotel, and we’re constantly challenged to evolve as our customers do.

Hotel St Moritz has been Jo Finnigan’s work-home for some 19 years

L.N ‘Sustainable luxury’ is a word commonly used today, what does it mean to you and to Hotel St Moritz?

J.F For me and my team, ‘Sustainable Luxury’ is about preserving longevity. The longevity of our environment (Queenstown’s landscape is just so precious and beautiful), and also our business. That means that how we interpret the expectations of our customers and marry that with reducing waste is something we’re navigating at the moment. Our guests are happy to see that we’re actively experimenting with ideas to reduce waste and we’re getting some encouraging feedback in this area. One of the initiatives we’ve launched recently is the removal of bottled water at turndown service and for conferencing– a fundamental expectation in Luxury hotels.  Instead of bottled water, guests are provided with an elegant carafe of filtered tap water – a simple action that is saving more than 25,000 bottles per year going to waste.  I’m personally thrilled that our guests have embraced this change.

L.N With the increasing interest and awareness of our planet and the desire to ‘do good’, have you seen a change among your guests when it comes to their requests and interests?

J.F Absolutely. Our guests are clever, worldly people and they can see that the special surroundings of Queenstown require extra care. 

L.N What are the initiatives when it comes to sustainability at the moment?

J.F Other than changing our turndown water, we have numerous other initiatives that are making a big impact.  Of course, we are an Accor hotel which means we are committed to our Global platform ‘Planet 21’*. Some of the practices we employ include soap recycling (Beyond Skin Deep re-purpose waste soap and distribute to communities in need), we are active participants in ‘Trees for Survival’ – working with our local primary school on growing native seedlings for transplant back into the local environment, we’ve ceased using single-use plastic in rubbish bins, and have connected with a partner for our e-waste (we’re about to upgrade all of our computers) who will re-purpose our old machines and provide them to schools in the Pacific Islands.

L.N What would be your advice for hotels on how to promote their sustainability initiatives internally to suppliers and staff, and externally to guests and community?

J.F I’m not sure that I’m enough of a leader or pioneer in this space to provide advice, however, I would urge others to simply start the journey – our customers are expecting us to!

*’Planet 21’ is Accor Hotels’ sustainable development program which aims to provide a positive hospitality experience.  The Planet 21 programme demonstrates the Group’s ambitious goals for 2020, based around four strategic priorities: work with its employees, involve its customers, innovate with its partners and work with local communities. Two key issues to tackle will be food and buildings. Read more about the hotel group’s sustainability commitment https://www.accorhotels.com/gb/sustainable-development/index.shtml

Hotel St Moritz

10-18 Brunswick Street, Queenstown, 9300, NEW ZEALAND

For more information and bookings: www.stmoritz.co.nz 

Telephone +64 3 442 4990 Email reservations@stmoritzmg.co.nz

Hamilton Island

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