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The Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa is a multi-faceted concept with inspiration taken from nature, in particular the excess of 900 bird species found in Ethiopia. The hotel offers luxury with design firmly rooted in history, nature and the people od Ethiopia.
Wildlife and in particular the more than 900 species of bird life fascinated the design team of WA International when bringing the Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa to life. Blue colours and characteristic feature markings are transcended conceptually into the interiors in a subtle and sophisticated approach. The striking blue feathers of the Turaco national bird, also endemic to Ethiopia, became the feature colour in the public areas and the inspiration of the blue glass bird chandeliers. Further reference to the national flower, the lily, also inspired the back painted glass panels in the guestrooms.
Located just 15 minutes from Bole International Airport, the hotel is situated off Meskel Square, the epicenter of the city, which is steeped in culture and history. This 5-star hotel offers 188 rooms including the Regency Suite ad Royal Suites, plus an All Day Dining and specialty restaurant, bar, wellness center and state-of-the-art fitness center. In addition, there is an outdoor heated infinity edge swimming pool set in a lush landscaped expansive courtyard.
The main restaurant is a burst of colours from Ethiopian spices, tapping into the olfactory senses, whilst the walls are adorned with elegantly placed woven “sefed” traditional woven plates.
The Client who has a personal interest in supporting and empowering local communities, sourced all original public area artworks.
The brief was to create a 5-star luxury hotel with modern amenities, contemporary design with a sense of location and Ethiopian pride. The hotel caters primarily to the delegates of the African Union and other diplomatic summits, but as the city attracts other international business and tourism, it became apparent that a 5-star hospitality project in the capital was needed.
Design features include artworks by local artists, reflective of Ethiopia, whilst upholstery fabrics take their inspiration from typical Tibeb fabrics and embroidery of the traditional Ethiopian attire. Glass and metal chandeliers in the lobby lounge reference birds’ nests while the blue glass birds representing the Tucano, the national bird of Ethiopia, this ties back into the project’s concept.
Furthermore, beaded Ethiopian jewelry, indigenous body painting adornment and traditional fabrics are woven into the concept and reflect in the interiors providing the guest with a unique experience in drawing inspiration from nature, wildlife and the indigenous people of Ethiopia conceptually, this gives the interiors a sense of place without being literal. The spaces reflect a sophistication and elegance.
Guestrooms have a neutral colour palette inspired by the national flower, the lily, with certain rooms inspired by the Ethiopian guinea fowl with its beautifully speckled, spotted and striped feathers. The feather patterns transcend into the design as black & white detail photographs and are hung as artworks. Local Tibeb fabric patterns also play their part as artworks, carpet designs, accent cushions and throws, while in some rooms the carpet is essentially a Google map of Addis Ababa.
The junior and Executive Suites boast an accent colour pf ochre red and brown timbers add warmth to the interiors, mirror frames were inspired by Ethiopian jewelry, and the adornment of white ash body paint seen in the indigenous tribes is reinterpreted and reflected in the table and wall lights. In the bathrooms, white sanitaryware is offset by grey timber cabinets and pedestals. The interiors feature the layered textures of metal, wood and marble, creating a depth to the space.
There reflects Ethiopian pride throughout the interiors, none so quirky as perhaps the metal works of cut outs of the Ethiopian alphabet.
Upholstered furniture is contemporary with clean lines and an accent colour of blue is speckled throughout. On entry, guests are greeted by back-lit onyx reception desks which are offset against a grey patterned back wall, whilst timber-clad columns add warmth. Chandeliers, wall lights and the rugs are inspired by Ethiopian flora, while the drapery is a modern interpretation of the traditional Tibeb patterned fabrics as commonly seen in the traditional clothing.
Columns mimic coffee trees which lead you into the bar that celebrates the sensory journey of an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. A sense of elegance and reference to location offer guests a memorable experience.
The hotel’s meeting and event capacity covers 1 700 sqm of flexible and contemporary space. The ballroom at the Hyatt Regency is located on the ground floor and covers 488 sqm, adjacent to the ballroom are two meeting rooms with adjoining pre function areas leading into an open-air terrace of the main hotel courtyard. All meeting and event space is equipped with state-of-the-art technical equipment and integrated audiovisual equipment.
Interior Design: WA International
The safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues is always a top priority. We have been closely monitoring the fast-evolving COVID-19 situation. For precautionary measures, we are following the recommended procedures and protocols of the World Health Organization and Ethiopian Ministry of Health.
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Meet the General Manager of Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa. Mr Heddo Siebs.
Who is Heddo Siebs?
I am a global nomad - I travel a lot. I am a foodie, a proud father and a Royal Enfield lover. I love Ethiopia very much and I am very happy to be here in Addis Ababa. Being here in the Land of Origins is something great. I like not only visiting and exploring places but also getting to know the culture and what is all around it.
What were your impressions of Ethiopia and Ethiopian society when you traveled here for the first time?
Though I had been to many places in Africa, I had never been to Ethiopia before, and I found it to be a great place to see. I was very surprised to see how green and nice the country is and how friendly the people are. We felt very much welcome to this country. Then we traveled to Entoto. It was wonderful to see the entire city on one side and the vast countryside on the other. As time went on, I started to explore the city and the markets, especially the rich and colorful Mercato, to understand what people eat and what they produce. Looking at the opportunities Ethiopia has to offer, I remember feeling how lucky I am to open a hotel here in Addis.
We heard that you are very outgoing and adventurous. You even go to local traditional markets to shop. What is the inspiration behind this?
To start with, the diversity here in Ethiopia excites me a lot. I believe that when you are in a new country and city, you have to explore its roots to see and understand what items are available and produced.
It is also great to source inputs locally to support the local community. It is easy to import everything, but we feel that we should support local businesses. For instance, you can find people producing beautiful and great-quality napkins and linen products here in Ethiopia. We also find great designers here helping us to design and produce employee fashion locally.
The other reason why I leave Addis and travel to other parts of the country is to see what the farmers produce. There is great quality available here in Ethiopia, but you have to go out and find it. You have to visit different farmers to understand how they produce and how they process. That way we source our inputs locally, but with great quality. Looking at how our restaurants are doing, I think we are successful.
Within a short time, your management has made Hyatt the leading destination in Addis. What is the secret?
Anyone can build a nice hotel; It is the people who make the difference. If we welcome our guests and look after them as we do in our homes, we will make a difference, as the guests will feel that what we are doing comes from the heart. It is not standardized or done by rote. We invest our resources in providing true, honest service.
What is unique about the Ethiopian hospitality industry?
Being hospitable is in Ethiopians' DNA. You just have to give them the confidence through training to deliver the same in a hotel. We particularly like training the young generation through an apprenticeship system developed together with the Culinary and Travel Training Institute.
Hyatt has been headlining within the hotel scene for sourcing its inputs locally, including the uniforms of your staff. Where did this inspiration come from?
Supporting local communities is a very important commitment for us. With the opening of the hotel, we had a great opportunity to do things right from the very beginning. Instead of importing items, we source them locally. We are very fortunate to work with Anna Getaneh, who designed as well as produced our employees' uniforms locally. Moreover, companies and NGOs like Sabahar, Salem`s and Muya produce fabulous products, allowing us to support fair trade companies and their colleagues.
Speaking of local sourcing, you dress all your employees with Ethiopian fabric and design. How has the reception been about this?
First, we want to make sure that our visitors feel they are coming to Ethiopia when they come to our hotel. You can find normal uniforms anywhere in the world, but when we design something like this locally, people easily get the feeling of being in Ethiopia.
I think our employees are proud of it because they can easily identify themselves and because it is more of a fashion statement than a uniform. It also makes Ethiopia proud because it underlines that there is more to Ethiopia than just coffee, displaying other areas where Ethiopians excel.
What values has Hyatt added to hospitality in Ethiopia?
We would like to lead by example and out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to local sourcing as mentioned above, but also in terms of food items, employee training and last but not least, being sustainable. We are very proud to be the first hotel not to offer plastic bottles.
Despite its young age, Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa has become the top destination for premium events that have happened during the year. What is your philosophy about hosting events?
As a hotel that values the environment and the local community, we focus on sustainability, zero food waste and live cooking when we host events.
Hyatt Regency has also been at the center of media for the various sustainable environmental initiatives you have undertaken. Tell us about them.
One of our achievements has been using an entirely locally sourced avocado oil in one of our restaurants, The Kitchen. When I was exploring the city, I saw avocados everywhere. Even though the plan was to use olive oil in The Kitchen, a Middle Eastern restaurant, we do not have olive trees in Ethiopia. Therefore, we decided to look for someone who would make us avocado oil and change our recipes to avocado that is locally produced. We received very positive feedbacks from our guests. We are really making a difference.
We are currently plastic-free, and we will undertake more initiatives.
Who is Hyatt Regency for? (Who do you serve?)
I think there are two parts to it. On one hand, like any hotel, we invite people who are in Addis exploring the country - it is everyone from this point of view. However, looking at our social spaces, two restaurants and bars, our spacious lobby and gym, we serve people who live in Addis.
When a new hotel opens, everyone wants to come and see it. However, we have proven that it does not stop there for Hyatt Regency, Addis Ababa. People in Addis feel that this hotel is for them, and they come here not only for their special occasions but also in their day-to-day lives for business meetings, for a cup of coffee in Cascara or lunch and dinner at our restaurants.
What do you regard as your most remarkable achievement at Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa?
We have received early awards as the best hotel in Addis and in Africa, and we are grateful for them. Awards are important, but so is the implementation of our water bottling system. I am personally very proud that we managed to start our water bottling system. It is very sustainable, and I promise you we will have a lot more in the next year.
What do you like doing in Addis when you are not at work?
I spend my time with my family. I also explore the country a little bit with my Royal Enfield, getting a bit of fresh air in the country and relaxing.
Any last words?
I think if people do anything from the bottom of their hearts and with the concept of “Let’s Make Ethiopia Proud,” we cannot lose.
I think if people do anything from the bottom of their hearts and with the concept of “Let’s Make Ethiopia Proud,” we cannot lose.
We are very proud to be the first hotel not to offer plastic bottles.
At Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa, an international barista competition was held on October 15th, to help promote a coffee culture and give local baristas a chance to showcase their talent on an international stage.
Erna Tosberg, the two-time German barista champion visited the capital from Münster, to be part of the jury and has awarded a local barista; the chance to travel to Italy, be trained by Illy Coffee, visit its production facility and be given a chance to compete in the next World Barista Championships in Melbourne, at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) in May of 2020.
Six Ethiopian baristas competed using the products of Moyee, Tarara and Mamokacha.
"My dream is to bring the Barista World Championships to Ethiopia one day," Heddo Siebs, the General Manager of Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa told The Reporter. "Cascara" is the name of the so-called cherry around the coffee bean. When we were looking for inspiration for the bar, we watched the movie ‘Barista’ and my colleague and I noticed that Ethiopia was not mentioned anywhere in the movie.”
“Ethiopia is where coffee originated from and it’s something that needs to be showcased and promoted around the world and we are happy to do our part,” he added.
The finalist, Samson Gedawas, who had previously worked at Starbucks in Dubai, is set to fly to Trieste, Italy and visit the Illy Academy. The runner-up was Muhidin Temam, who will also visit the Illy Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. The third winner was Khaleb Ayeleand. He will be visiting the local Ethiopian coffee farms and will get a one year supply of free coffee.
Ethiopia continues to take pride in its coffee exports that continues to be an important source of foreign currency to the nation.
Hyatt Regency has come up with innovative ways to reduce food waste. The Hotel began implementing the strategy three months ago by engaging with customers.
“We followed approaches to eliminate food waste by analyzing the type of event and involving our sales team to offer menus based on preference,” says Lars Windfuhr, Executive Chef of Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa.
“Staff sorted left over food and sent to a prime food company to consume for their own farm; hence there won’t be any wastage,” he said.
Hyatt also is recycling paper and glass. They also have been producing their own bottled water to avoid using plastic bottles. For the last three months, they have given 3,000kg of meat to their prime company, 700 kg of paper has been recycled and 15,000 kg of bottles. When the Hotel set up the water bottling plant, 40,000 USD was invested to install it in their basement. Currently, the plant treats and produces 1,000 glass bottles of water in half and one-liter sizes every day.
According to a study by Tefera Numera, about 66,600 tons of food waste was generated every year from Addis Ababa city. Nearly, 97 percent was generated during food preparation and 3 percent by consumers. But waste contains a high amount of total solids, dissolved solids, and suspended solids, volatile solids that are directly disposed into a landfill. Food waste costs money and pollutes the environment.
The most important step in reducing food waste is to avoid its creation, so focusing on real needs of nutrition and choosing to be careful preparing food and avoiding dumping is essential.