This is somewhat of a personal piece, and I’ll be tickled if it’s read. It’s personal, because for me Hotel St Moritz has been my extended family for twenty years now and its temporary closure simply unthinkable only a couple of months ago. It’s personal, because I like to think that although my team are largely transient, this virus has changed their lives on my watch. I’ve been charged with right-sizing our business and that means saying goodbye to most (my team of 85 will shrink to around 20). In writing these few words, it will be near impossible not to sound trite or cliched… many journalists have pumped out these words before me.
Just a couple of months ago, saying farewell was not uncommon but for completely different reasons. We had a staff turnover that would make your eyes water. Queenstown rents made it difficult to eek out a permanent living for most, with living costs unsustainable thanks to unbridled private rentals.
Many of our people on their working holidays simply moved on, and regularly. Delivering a high quality experience was our daily challenge when most staff were either training someone or they themselves learning the ropes . Somehow their delightful natures & their own enjoyment of experiencing in this outdoor paradise meant we could all connect & deliver something truly special.
So to my team, … thank you. Go well, be good, and have fun.
Post COVID we will open in quite a different form. More nimble probably, certainly with severely fewer crew each of whom will need to be capable in every area of our business. I see this is a wonderful way for them to hone their skills as hotel professionals, whilst it WILL take enormous grit and energy. Our business is demanding, attracts immense scrutiny and is complex despite our simple product of a safe, great night’s sleep.
My take on all this as a hotelier Post COVID, is that our traveller will yearn to connect both with the people & the landscape of our place. They’ll take things slowly. I think they’ll want to contribute in some way to the preservation of our environment (or at least lessen their impact). And I believe they’ll appreciate the beautiful imperfection that is travel. They’ll understand the great privilege of moving around, & they won’t take it for granted or simply for the insta pic.
I relish the opportunity to be part of this new era in travel. Maybe it’ll be a little slower, a little more connected with time for conversations over a great glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir. Let’s all make this delightful & worth it!
Jo Finnigan, General Manager.
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