New design-forward hotels are taking an innovative approach to social good.

Hotels are increasingly putting social good at the center of their businesses, as travelers demand that hotel stays be meaningful, not just comfortable.

One recent example is Good Hotel Amsterdam, a pop-up housed in a converted pontoon building. Until recently used as a detention center for undocumented migrants, the floating structure received a makeover from art director Remko Verhaagen and designer Sikko Valk before opening to guests as a boutique hotel in June 2015. For one year, it will be staffed by 100 long-term unemployed locals receiving training in the hospitality sector. The structure then departs for Rio de Janeiro, arriving in time for the 2016 Olympics.

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Good Hotel, Amsterdam
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Magdas Hotel in Vienna also sources workers with an ethical mission in mind. Opened in February 2015, the hotel only employs refugees and people with a history as refugees, extending a welcome hand to these populations in a country at the front lines of Europe’s growing migration crisis. Run by the Vienna arm of the Catholic organization Caritas, the hotel is decorated with vintage finds and offers rooms starting at the bargain rate of $80 per night.

“The starting point was to build up a hotel where people from all over the world are coming,” Caritas Vienna spokesman Martin Gantner told Canada’s National Post. “They are guests, and they are welcomed by people who had to flee, who are refugees.”

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Magdas Hotel, Vienna. Photography by Paul Kranzler

Vancouver’s Skwachàys Lodge and Residence takes a different approach, using art to help visitors connect with the culture of local aboriginal groups. Developers paired six interior designers with six native artists to create original works for the rooms. Together with a ground-floor gallery, this gives the property the feel of an upscale boutique hotel. In addition to supporting artists directly, the hotel also uses profits to subsidize attached apartments, which rent to disadvantaged native residents.

Businesses are realizing that the days are long gone when corporate social responsibility only meant handing out annual donations to charities. Today, consumers want to buy into brands that work social good into their day-to-day operations, especially when this ties conceptually into their core service offerings. Look out for more hotels taking an innovative approach to social good.

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Magdas Hotel, Vienna. Photography by Paul Kranzler
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