The magdas hotel’s homepage not only displays a pretty witty sense of humour and fluffily formulated descriptions. It also shows deep respect for a cause. When scanning the site for the hotel’s location in Vienna, visitors casually learn that it is situated near the city centre, in the vicinity of the Danube Canal mottled with cool clubs and pubs and close to the „Prater“, the popular amusement park that offers space for a wide variety of outdoor activities and sports Vienna’s famous landmark, the Ferris Wheel. Good access from all angles, a key factor for hotels getting booked, is definitely given.
But most importantly for the magdas, it lies within easy reach for its employees „because we want to spare them another round-the-world trip when commuting to their workplace“: magdas staff almost exclusively comprises refugees who descend from 14 different nations. Amongst them, they speak 23 languages. Dinis, the receptionist from Guinea-Bissau, alone is versed in seven! He came by boat. It took almost ten years to be granted asylum.
Steps of integration: A permit, a job, a participating denizen
Each of these immigrants has gone through a turbulent escape from their native country and has a poignant story to tell. It is their fate and their personalities that render the magdas an outstanding place. The hotel functions in the regular manner. Yet, the management’s mission is not to maximise profits, but rather to nurture – and magnify – open-mindedness and humanity. „We wanted to build up a place, where tourists from all over the world are welcomed by people who have had to leave their home.” 19 of the staff of 31 are so-called “approved refugees” with rights equal to Austrian citizens and a work permit in their pocket. At the magdas, there are five experienced hotel pros plus a coach to help make daily tasks a success.
More often than not it proves impossible for asylum-seekers to find employment. The magdas programme strives to alleviate their plight.
For the benefit of refugees: the magdas umbrella brand
The hotel is one in a number of social business projects run by the Caritas Services Vienna under the umbrella brand name magdas (meaning „like it“). The charity organisation’s goal is to solve socio-economic problems by entrepreneurial means, a concept originally issued by nobel-prize winner Muhammad Yunus. It creates jobs for people with diverse cultural backgrounds whose chances are slim to find a workplace on their own initiative. www.caritas-wien.at
Exemplary conversion: Nursing home becomes the magdas budget boutique hotel
For more than four decades, the building in the Laufbergergasse housed a senior citizens’ nursing home, until residents moved onto more modern premises. The void edifice underwent thorough refurbishment and reopened as magdas Hotel in February of 2015. The primary goal during the beautifying process was to save resources as much as was feasible, and existing furniture (197 tables, 394 chairs…) was creatively up-cycled. 1,5 million euros were invested and a mortgage underwritten by the Caritas Archdiocese Vienna. The loan has to be amortised in monthly instalments coming from turnover generated by the hotel business. More sponsors and supporters are listed on the website.
And: Three meeting rooms are available as well. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credits: All pictures courtesy of magdas hotel
Header image: ©Paul Kranzler
People in room: ©Lisa M. Leutner
Salon bar: ©Stefan Joham