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Business of Changing the World (Spring 2013 Hotelie)

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51 Irving Saunders was so committed to philanthropy and community service that he named one of his racehorses Pine Street Inn, after a Boston homeless shelter, and donated all of the horse's winnings to the shelter. still considered cutting-edge, Saunders recalled, "we filled part of the lobby at the Boston Park Plaza with shredded newspapers piled 20 feet high, to show the volume of paper needlessly going into landfills." Jeffrey Saunders '79, president and CEO of the Boston-based Saunders Hotel Group (SHG), the successor to the company that his grandfather Irving founded in 1939, is now following in that tradition. Other sustainability initiatives have included the adoption of hybrid cars, waterless urinals, state-of-the-art windows, ozone laundry systems, pump dispensers in showers, and the nation's first towel and sheet reuse programs. "Sustainability has long been a part of our business strategy," Saunders said. "When my grandfather would talk about the horse and what he had decided to do with it, I was young, but I was old enough to understand philanthropy," Saunders said. "I heard all the stories and even went to some of the races in the early Seventies. I'm glad I was just the right age to be able to do that—to see history in the making, to see the creation of a philanthropic legacy within our family." In addition to its commitment to philanthropy, SHG has been a leader in sustainable tourism practices since the early Eighties. At a time when recycling was SHG also received the hotel industry's number-one ranking in the 2012-13 Climate Counts Company Scorecard, and this spring, the Lenox Hotel was named Best Place to Work in the City of Boston by the Boston Business Journal. Jesse Winter Along with the Lenox Hotel, SHG currently owns and manages five other properties—the Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center; the Comfort Inn and Suites Boston/Logan Airport; the Hampton Inn in Norwood, Massachusetts; the Hawthorn Suites in Alexandria, Virginia; and the Premiere Hotel and Suites in New Haven, Connecticut. Jesse Winter SHG continues to support the Pine Street Inn, along with dozens of other community nonprofits, and is a sponsor of the organization that provides funding for Boston's mounted police unit. The family is also a strong supporter of education— Jeffrey's father provided the naming gift for the Roger Saunders School of Hospitality at Newberry College. In recognition of these and other efforts— most notably the conversion of a former police headquarters into the Back Bay Hotel and SHG's multi-million-dollar contribution to, and employee involvement in, the development of affordable housing in Boston's designated urban renewal areas—Saunders Hotel Group received the 2012 World Travel and Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Community Benefit Award. The award was presented in Tokyo, with the prime minister and hospitality executives from across the globe in attendance. The Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center, the group's most recent acquisition, is managed by Saunders's son, Alex. "Later this year, we hope to redevelop the site into a special multi-use facility that will open in 2016," Saunders said. "The four- to five-diamond independent property will have 227 hotel rooms, along with a world-class ground-floor restaurant, a sky lobby and restaurant facilities on the seventeenth floor, a conference center on the eighteenth floor, and condominiums on the top fifteen floors. It's a hugely ambitious project and the first time my family is building something from scratch in Boston. "Being involved in the community doesn't just make you feel good, it's also smart business," he said. "Generation after generation, we've been able to reinforce my grandfather's legacy. I take great pride in having my kids see what we've accomplished."

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