Diane Pentaleri-Otto, Director of International Sales at Estrel Berlin, discusses best practices of freedom and responsibility in Berlin in general, and at the Estrel Berlin hotel and venue in particular.
Throughout the ages, the ideals of freedom and responsibility have been held paramount by the world’s greatest thinkers. Today, like a two-sided coin, these ideals are very much the representative characteristics of the city of Berlin.
During its emergence from its divided past, an attitude of tolerance became the city’s defining vibe and free thinking and creative individuals from Berlin and beyond have found this environment ideal for pursuing their own respective visions.
As Richard Florida, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Professor of Business and Creativity at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, predicted that the three T’s of Tolerance, Technology and Talent would lead to innovation, so Berlin has become exactly that – a dynamic and booming European hub for innovation, irrespective of sector. That is the freedom side of the coin.
Turning over that coin to the notion of responsibility, the city is equally inspiring. Consider the following: According to the 26 May 2019 edition of Business Insider, Berlin ranked 14th among all global cities surveyed for quality of life, scoring particularly well for its reasonable cost of living and high quality healthcare.
Alhough the city continues to grow, there is a strong emphasis on maintaining green spaces. This was best exemplified by the May 2014 referendum in which over 64% of Berliners voted to maintain the Tempelhof Airfield as a public park, now aptly named Freedom Field. Just a few years later, when the European refugee crisis hit its peak, the hangers of this defunct airport became Germany’s largest shelter, with a capacity for 7,000.
The interplay between freedom and responsibility is also illustrated by the endeavours of the entrepreneur, Ekkehard Streletzki (pictured at Estrel Berlin), creator and owner of both the Estrel Berlin and the Ellington Hotel Berlin. The freedom afforded by the city enabled Streletzki to become a local visionary. Beginning back in the early ‘90s, he spotted real estate in an underdeveloped section of the Neukölln district.
Recognising that the city was in need of a sizeable hotel and convention facility, Streletzki developed the Estrel Berlin, which opened in 1994 as Germany’s largest hotel.
The property has since been expanded to become what the owners claims is Europe’s largest hotel, congress and entertainment complex. Streletzki’s creative vision continues with the recently completed €7.2m renovation of the Estrel Atrium as well as the addition of the Estrel Auditorium & Meeting Center in September 2020.
On the horizon for 2023 is the Estrel Tower, which would become Berlin’s tallest residential structure.
Home to upwards of 1,800 events a year, including programmes such as the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Conference and the World Money Fair Expo, the Estrel Berlin has become a premier event location and a testimonial to freedom enabling creation.
Another side of the coin illustrates Streletzki’s responsibility for the local community and his employees. For over 20 years now, the Estrel has been partnering with Frank Zander in hosting the annual Christmas Dinner for the Homeless and Needy. On this special day, 2,800 homeless and needy individuals from the Berlin community are invited into the Estrel Convention Halls for a plated goose dinner. When the refugee crisis in Europe peaked a few years back, Estrel was proactive in promoting successful integration, and the Estrel Job Fair for Refugees and Migrants was born.
Since 2016, each year on a designated day in February, 4,000-plus job seeking individuals come to the Estrel to engage with potential employers from the Berlin/Brandenburg areas.
Whether throughout the community at large or at the Estrel Berlin, best practices of freedom and responsibility are very much alive in the German capital. The great thinkers of the past would surely be impressed.
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