At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore last year, Jason Chan, 32, went to volunteer at the Community Care Facility (CCF) at the Singapore Expo.

The assistant operations manager at Hard Rock Hotel Singapore helped to manage a team of volunteers to register patients and established standard operating procedures and daily workflow processes at the CCF. He also provided non-medical care for the residents that had tested positive for Covid-19 during their recovery and post-recovery phase.

Since Hard Rock Hotel Singapore was not taking in guests during the circuit breaker, Jason decided to make better use of his time by volunteering.

Understanding that even though the patients were in isolation, they still needed the human connection, Jason often made an effort to safely communicate with them.

“Since we are fighting this pandemic, I decided to do my best to help where possible and not sit on the sidelines,” he said.

Jason told Lianhe Zaobao that his parents were initially sceptical of his decision but after they saw that he remained healthy while persisting in his role, they came around to his decision and told him that they were proud of him

Yesterday, his parents had even more reason to be proud of their son.

For his efforts, Jason was one of the 120 staff working in the hotel industry who were lauded yesterday at the 26th National Kindness Awards – Service Gold 2020 ceremony.

This coveted award honours service professionals who make extraordinary efforts to provide exceptional service to their guests, as well as hotel guests who treat service staff with graciousness and respect.

Due to the safe management measures, the ceremony was a hybrid event where seven winners were physically present at the Furama Riverfront Hotel to receive their awards from the guest of honour, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan. The other winners tuned in online via a livestream.

Service Gold Award

At the event, Mr Tan, who is also Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, said: “Covid-19 has brought about disruptions globally, including travel restrictions and border closures. Despite this, the hotel industry stepped up to play its part in the fight against Covid-19. Some hotels pivoted to cater to new demands while others took the chance to upskill and cross-train their staff during the lull period.”

He added: “However, we do not forget that it is the human touch that matters. This is the kind of society that we want to be – centred upon kindness regardless of where you are from.”

Panelists talk about adapting to Phase 3

Speakers for Service Gold Award
(From far left): Tarun Kalra from The Warehouse Hotel Singapore, Jacquline Poey from Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford, Gilbert Madhavan from One Farrer Hotel and Singapore Kindness Movement’s Dr William Wan. Image source: Singapore Kindness Movement

During the event, a panel of hoteliers discussed how hotels have pivoted during the pandemic and how they had to change their operations while maintaining service excellence to suit the local tourism industry with more Singaporeans going on staycations since Phase 3 started on December 28.

They also shared thoughts how hotels can continue to foster a more gracious service experience given the challenges of the pandemic and its economic impact.

Hotel Staff Singapore
Mohamed Faizal Hamzah’s quick thinking helped save the life of a passer-by. Image source: Hotel G Singapore

Also recognised for his kindness and quick thinking was Mohamed Faizal Hamzah, assistant security manager at Hotel G Singapore.

In February 2020, the 31-year-old was on duty when his security team was alerted that a passer-by had collapsed on the street just outside the hotel. Initially he thought that the passer-by had fainted, but soon realised that he was not breathing.

Without hesitating, Faizal grabbed the hotel’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and ran to the person’s side. He performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the passer-by until the ambulance arrived.

Although trained in CPR and in the use of the AED, it was the first time that Faizal used it in a real-life setting. His swift act, borne out of an automatic desire to help someone else, made all the difference in a life-and-death situation.

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Faizal told The Pride: “All I could focus on was reviving him. My only thought at that moment was that I needed to get him breathing again.”

He also said that people fear showing kindness because they fear being embarrassed, looking weak, or of the negative consequences. But being kind is also about being courageous as it requires people to act immediately before the moment is gone.

“We can start by removing the mindset of ‘minding my own business,’ as there will always be someone out there who needs more help than me. I am lucky to be surrounded by people who are proud to showcase kindness and I believe that it is only right for me to reciprocate and extend the kindness that has been given to me over the years.”

Gracious guests recognised

National Kindness Award 2020
Gracious Guest Sook Chin (second from right) receiving her award from Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan (far right). Image source: Singapore Kindness Movement

It wasn’t just hotel staff that got the awards yesterday. Also recognised were seven guests who showed exceptional care, appreciation and graciousness to service staff.

One winner of the Gracious Guest award was Sook Chin, 33, who served her 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) after returning from Hong Kong at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon last year.

During the 14 days, the hotel staff had to constantly bring up packages to her room as Sook had family and friends that sent her things to help her get through the SHN.

To show her gratitude to the staff, Sook surprised the team with her kind words of appreciation to the hotel’s Instagram account and went the extra mile of ordering breakfast for the Front Office team. She continued to post her experience on social media and ordered little treats for the team throughout her stay as a gesture of appreciation to the service staff for their hospitality.

She told Lianhe Zaobao that the hotel staff were her only contact with the world outside of the hotel and having them around made her feel less isolated.

“I feel happy every time I hear their greetings.”

SKM's mascot, Singa
Minister Tan sharing a selfie with SKM’s mascot Singa, the kindness lion. Image source: Singapore Kindness Movement

General Secretary of Singapore Kindness Movement William Wan pointed out that kindness is a two-way street and while hotel staff provide great service in light of the pandemic, guests can reciprocate and create a greater hospitality experience for both parties.

“Undeterred by the Covid-19 pandemic, these frontline heroes have done all they can to maintain service excellence and find more ways they can provide gracious service. However, kindness goes both ways. It warms my heart to see such acts of kindness and it proves that we have taken another step towards being a more hospitable society as a nation,” Dr Wan said.

The Service Gold Award was jointly organised by the Singapore Hotel Association and the Singapore Kindness Movement.

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Top Image: Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa