Originally designed by acclaimed American architect Warren Platner, Sea Containers House is an iconic fixture on the South Bank landscape. The building has gone through many names and forms in its lifetime, but Sea Containers London as we know it opened in January 2019. With one of the world’s best bars, Lyaness, on its ground floor and spectacular panoramic views of London from 12th Knot on the rooftop, the hotel has drawn in both local Londoners and visitors from all over the world.
With the challenges posed by the first lockdown in March 2020, the hotel unfortunately had to shut its doors to guests. However, even in the midst of this uncertainty, the Sea Containers London team saw the opportunity to show their support for all of the incredible work the NHS continue to do. Located between Guys’ and St Thomas’ Hospital, the hotel was motivated to launch their Nominate your Hero campaign, as a way to give back to NHS staff. As lockdown three continues in England, the team have launched their third round of the campaign, which focuses on giving the UK’s NHS workers some much needed TLC in the form of Sea Containers London Care Bundles.
We spoke to Sergio Leandro, General Manager at Sea Containers London, to understand more about the campaign, and how the hotel will take this work going forward.
How did Phase 1 of the Nominate your Hero Campaign begin?
Our NHS Nominate your Hero Campaign was really born out of a desire to help and show our support when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. We were, and still are, in awe of the amazing NHS staff and the selfless work that they do day in, day out; caring for us and our loved ones no matter what. So, we wanted to give back, raise awareness and show them just how appreciated they are. For phase 1 of the campaign, we lit the outside of the building up as a rainbow to show support and appreciation for the NHS frontline staff around the UK which was also part of the nationwide Clap for our Carers campaign.
This also marked the start of our Nominate Your NHS Hero initiative where we asked the public to nominate their NHS Hero for a free overnight stay at the hotel. We were completely inundated with the stories of their NHS heroes, and received over 800 nominations within the first 24 hours. Initially we had vowed to give away 365 rooms, one for each day of the year, however due to the exceptional amount of nominations, we offered a further 50%, bringing the total number of rooms to 545.
Why was it important to Sea Containers London to show support in this way?
Supporting the local community is something that we take pride in and love doing at Sea Containers London, whether that’s through our work with The Felix Project or our NHS Nominate your Hero Campaign. Being located between two of London’s NHS hospitals (Guy’s and St Thomas’), we really wanted to raise as much awareness of the amazing work our NHS heroes do and show our support and gratitude. So far, we have donated 2000 meals to The Felix Project whilst we have been closed and donated part of our VAT relief to assist with their incredible work.
We also partnered with Bodega Rita – who closed their venue – in November last year to give them a place to continue to offer their incredible menu, through Lyaness. Finally we have continue to try to support local arts venues located along the South Bank who have struggled tremendously during this time, as we feel it is not just important to support charities, but also the community.
What has the reaction been like to the campaign?
We’ve had a wonderful response to the Nominate your Hero campaign so far – we are now on volume III of the initative. Volume I saw us give away a total of 545 bedrooms to our NHS heroes as a thank you for all they have done and continue to do as part of the Nominate your Hero Campaign. For Volume II, we wanted to encourage people to come to the South Bank and let us take care of them for a change, so we invited them in to dine, drink and dream with us. And for Volume III we launched the Sea Containers London Care Bundle – sending a little TLC to their homes.
Again, we were completely inundated with their nominations and have again received well over 800 nominations so we decided to make these care bundles even better. Our wonderful friends have donated some incredible products to the cause, from bottles of Laurent-Perrier champagne, mugs and cookies from Sara Miller London, Natura Bissé products and much more to help these incredible unsung heroes.
How did the staff across Sea Containers get involved?
The whole team across the hotel helped bring this campaign to life, with everything from getting the building lit up in a rainbow to organising and sorting the Fan Mail nominations and booking our NHS heroes in to redeem their treats. Each Fan Mail of the initial 800 was handwritten by a member of the team and is on display in our Gallery space so when the guests come to stay at the hotel they can look at the other fan mails. The team have also continued to work with The Felix Project, volunteering to deliver and donate meals; as well as the hotel giving 5% of the VAT saved from the government’s VAT cut and 5% of our total food and beverage sales (excluding alcoholic beverages). Our staff have the opportunity to get involved in any and all of our CSR endeavours.
How have Phase 2 and 3 of the Nominate your Hero Campaign evolved?
For Phase 2 of the campaign in August, we asked our guests, neighbours and friends to share a story of their NHS hero. We then randomly selected a story and hero to celebrate each week, gifting them an experience within the hotel which ranged from dinner or brunch in Sea Containers Restaurant to overnight stays and spa treatments in our in-house spa agua London. As the country went into lockdown once more, we moved this into a digital campaign to make sure that we could still show our support and celebrate our NHS heroes.
We then moved into Phase 3 of the campaign at the start of 2021 as we really want to focus on giving our NHS workers some much needed TLC in the form of Sea Containers London Care Bundles. Once a week we announce a winner from the Fan Mail nominations and share their story on our Instagram account as well as sending them a Care Bundle with treats such as a bottle of wine, Lyaness cocktails, blankets, candles etc. to make them feel warm and looked after but, most importantly, loved and appreciated. We then partnered up with some incredible friends to give away a further 100 care bundles to these incredible heroes as the nominations kept flooding it. Think champagne, candles, spa products and everything in between.
General Manager at Sea Containers London, Sergio Leandro
How are Sea Containers planning to incorporate this work going forward?
Once the hotel has reopened on Monday 17 May, we will be welcoming as many of our NHS heroes and key workers as we can. We will definitely continue to support our NHS heroes and have lots of plans in the pipeline, such as NHS film nights in our Screening Room and an NHS Spa Social in agua London. For more information and updates, please click here.
What other projects is the hotel working on at this time?
In addition to our work with the NHS, we shall continue to work with our other notable charities: The Felix Project, GIRL vs CANCER and Breathe Magic when we can safely reopen our doors. We shall be doing various events and pop-ups with other partners who have suffered from the pandemic and continue to support local businesses as much as we can. We are just so looking forward to reopening our doors once more.