Eden: City of Dreams seen as one of world’s most exclusive hotels – but employees aren’t immune to the pitfalls of big-brand employment
The above ad shows the Eden Hotels group – one of the world’s largest hotel groups – some time in the last decade. Clad in jeans and trainers, surrounded by bronze-and-black architecture, it’s part of the brand’s attempt to humanise it in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in Australia.
It was in Australia last year that Norwegian cruise operator Balmoral Cruises had to apologise for an incident in which a male deckhand was allegedly lured to the back of a ship, forcibly penetrated and left with a pile of underwear on his head. A subsequent court case was settled out of court.
It wasn’t the first such incident. The names of 10 chief stewardesses of Eurostar were revealed last year as having been in a similar situation in 2009, and recently a British man was reported to have paid £90,000 in damages to his former chief steward in 2014 after he complained about being made to perform oral sex on a male chief engineer at work.
The bad publicity is well documented.
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In 2013 the Cipriani Group banned its bosses from clothes shops after members of staff lodged a complaint about them wearing ill-fitting tracksuits to meetings. Bosses are banned from shopping in store as they go about their regular day-to-day tasks, though they are allowed to buy food and drink for dinner.
In the same year Canary Wharf was forced to apologise after a senior manager was filmed urinating on an employee’s leg.
When Eden Hotels, part of the Meriton Group, opened its 28-storey tower last November, the glass lifts drew attention for the enormous spaces between floors and for its bullet-shaped design, which is reminiscent of the outside of a rocketship.
Construction of the stunning high-rise has already provoked accusations of harsh workplace conditions, including accusations that unpaid overtime work and long working hours have impacted on mental health.
Even among London’s tourism industry, the luxury Eden Tower sits aloof from other famous hotels and blockbusters. From the close proximity of St Paul’s Cathedral, you’d be hard pressed to tell the Union Jack’s flagship hotel is more than a few rooms away.
Staff at the new building (complete with a hotel spa and rooftop infinity pool), say there is no time for superstition. They are expected to have the reputation of Goldman Sachs, no, Goldman Sachs, the most desirable bank on Wall Street. They are expected to be able to out-earn their competitors.
“A lot of people look up to us, so there are certain issues we have to deal with when it comes to attitude,” an unnamed employee told the Times. “It is really special to be here.”
The leisure giant Meriton Group hopes to raise A$700m from the luxury property and hotel development (Luxury Tower) with an offer for 350 million shares at A$1.85 each.
Even among the luxe group, the newest boom-town member has won rave reviews.
“It’s like visiting a new country. It’s electric, it’s uplifting, it’s urbane, it’s ready to party. It was like going somewhere different in the world, maybe around the corner from your [usual] Sydney Harbour views,” said a Briton staying at the hotel.
Despite some concerns about awkward corporate photos, the masses can be read from the rooftop swimming pool. An advertisement in the daily Sydney Morning Herald for bed and breakfast describes the hotel: “a wall of glass – nine storeys high and 3,700 square metres of clear space that opens up to the harbour.”