16 November 2020

Quality Mo-Ments

Chef Richard Ekkebus on leading the Mo Team at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.
The Mo Team at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, has been spearheaded by Chef Richard Ekkebus for the last five years.  In a year which has seen unprecedented turbulence in the hotel business in Hong Kong, Richard talks to us about supporting his team during the challenges of social unrest and COVID-19 and how ‘walking the talk’ has helped him to keep going when times are tough. 

Richard has been a passionate supporter of Movember for the last six years. “I have some family members that passed away due to cancer and prostate cancer and it is a subject close to my heart,” Richard explains.  “I want to personally invest my time and effort each year in helping to raise awareness and raise funds for this very important cause, which works to highlight common health issues affecting men, and trying to break down some of the stigmas.”

The last 18 months in Hong Kong have been extremely challenging for everyone, including those working in hospitality.  Fortunately, because of campaigns such as Movember, awareness is growing of mental health challenges which men may face. Richard applauds how the hotel teams have been encouraged during this time.  “We have received tremendous support from our owners Hong Kong Land, Jardine Matheson and Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.  We have focused on retention and training for all our team members and have given our colleagues opportunities to enrol in various courses.”
Wellness has also been high on the agenda.  “We have created fun internal fitness events related to wellness and highlighted the importance of healthy eating.  This has included introducing Meatless Mondays at our internal Colleague Restaurant, and raising awareness of how our diets impact our environment, which supports the hotel’s commitment to sustainability. 

This commitment to a healthy lifestyle also starts at home and Richard has found that finding activities that relieve stress are important. “I personally have focused on plant-based eating and have been working hard on my fitness levels. Initially my goal was to climb a large 8000 meter peak and, when that could not happen due to the pandemic, I concentrated on maintaining my fitness level. Most days I run to work from Wong Chuk Hang and that 13 km run over the mountain from Southside has been an incredible stress releaser for me. Also, my diet has been giving me a lot of very positive energy.”

 Each year, the team at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, put together a remarkable package of support for Movember.  Not just internally, but externally too.  In the past, the hotel’s aptly named MO Bar has designed exclusive Movember Cocktails with a portion of sales going to Movember, while the hotel also puts together an extravagant staycation package which is awarded to Movember Hong Kong’s top fundraisers. 
But the fun doesn’t just stop there. Richard uses Movember as an opportunity to raise awareness with hotel colleagues around common issues affecting men’s health. 
“My goal this year is to grow an incredible Mo and to supersede, like all previous years, our fundraising targets.  Year on year, more colleagues are joining the team, we are seeing some tremendous Mo’s and our team fundraising keeps on growing, just like our facial hair!”