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Local Hero

(November / December 2011) posted on Thu Dec 01, 2011

Joie de Vivre’s Chip Conley supports 1,000-plus organizations in communities that the company's properties, like the Pacific Edge Hotel (shown), call home.

By Mary Scoviak

click an image below to view slideshow

Chip Conley is never going to be the guy in the tuxedo holding an oversized $50 million check made out to some mega-charity. However, the Joie de Vivre (JdV) Hospitality founder will wear black tie for his annual Hotel Hero Awards gala, which honors outstanding hotel line-level employees. He’ll also don a bathing suit to take part in the yearly Celebrity Pool Toss at JdV’s Phoenix Hotel to raise money for San Francisco’s Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Council (TNDC’s) Tenderloin After-School Program.

A self-proclaimed rebel who made Abraham Maslow’s “Theory of Human Motivation” part of his business platform, Conley has emerged as a philanthropic thought leader with a simple message: Charity begins at home. It’s one of the ideas that he’ll incorporate as he takes the next step in his career. Following the October merger that combined JdV and Thompson Hotels into a new lifestyle hotel company, Conley will continue to hold a significant stake in the group he launched and nurtured, as well as remaining involved in the role of strategic advisor in the new venture. Beyond that, he has plans to build out his growing initiatives as a motivational speaker and author.

Joie de Vivre Gives

While most hotel chains have a marketable marriage with a high-profile, national non-profit, Conley and his staff keep their good deeds broad-based, low-key and local. Each year, the Joie de Vivre Gives program channels $1 million-plus in cash and in-kind donations to more than 1,000 organizations that are trying to improve the communities in which JdV’s more than 30 hotels operate. Family and community causes, education, health, and arts and culture generally get the biggest share of the cash, while environmental programs and initiatives for the homeless and youth-at-risk rank high in terms of volunteer hours. Without the support that comes from the nation’s second-largest boutique hotel company, some of these programs would be permanently off the radar.

In line with the chain’s entrepreneurial roots, Conley enlists the help of hotel staff members to determine which organizations’ names should be on the checks or at top-of-mind for volunteering. Each hotel chooses a philanthropy partner, but that’s just the beginning of the outreach effort.


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