The spirit of hospitality and the future of travel
The Spirit of Hospitality and the Future of Travel – General Thoughts from our General Managers.
As travel starts to reopen across Africa and the world, the future is looking increasingly brighter with a renewed sense of hope for tourism and the prospects of rediscovering travel, both locally and internationally.
We took the opportunity to sit down with our amazing GM’s across the Newmark portfolio to hear how they have worked through the initial lockdown and how they are readapting their approach as we welcome guests back.
As a team, how have you responded to the recent pandemic and what have been some of your ways of coping together through these unprecedented times?
While the pandemic may have brought the industry to its knees, the true spirit of hospitality has arguably never been stronger. This has been demonstrated by our teams going to great lengths to selflessly help each other and our surrounding communities, while at the same time educating ourselves and resiliently assisting to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The positivity, pride, creative problem-solving and guest focus has been, and remains, at the forefront of their endeavours.
“At first, things were unsettling, but as we started receiving our first guests back, our spirits started lifting,” explains GM of Stock Exchange and The Penthouse Collection, Chris Raath. “We take each day as it comes. We focus on uplifting each other through daily interactions and support.”
Attitude is key, and maintaining a positive rapport amongst staff is integral to success.
Arline Schutte of Nkomazi Private Game Reserve in Mpumalanga explains: “It has been hard on everyone. We, as leaders, try our best to keep the teams – both on-site and off-site – encouraged. At the end of the day, we work hard with our teams to instil an attitude of gratitude, which is now more important than ever before.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, what are some of the changes you have made to your property in order to ensure the safety and comfort of your guests?
Sanitisation standards and cleanliness have been taken very seriously, with all the teams at the Newmark properties across Africa redefining a new hospitality standard of hygiene practices to elevate cleanliness across the board.
“We have made massive changes,” says Janus Schoeman, GM of Drostdy Hotel in Graaff-Reinet. “Originally, it was to ensure the safety of our staff, as we understood that if they felt safe, our guests would feel safe too. There are sign-in procedures, temperature checks, sanitizing on entry, and all the usual protocols. In rooms, there are no mini-bars, no magazines, and no turn down. Rooms are fogged and sanitized before every guest checks in.”
“Implementing safety measures required by the regulations has not sacrificed our high standards,” explains V&A Hotel’s Andy Nold. “We continue to offer the best in terms of comfort and the most amazing personalised service to guests – from the temperature reading security officer at the front door, to the GM clearing tables at the restaurant.”
Read more about the Newmark Safe & Clean Commitment here.
With local travel restrictions lifting, what are some of the offerings you have in place to welcome guests back to your property?
Both South Africa and Mauritius – where Newmark’s luxuriant La Maison d’Été hotel is situated – have received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTX) Global Safety Stamp of Approval, which recognises the series of compulsory health measures implemented to ensure the best sanitary practices are in place whilst recovering tourist activities. Despite this excellent news, the teams at Newmark recognise the trepidation around travel at this point, and have not only gone to great lengths to ensure guests’ safety and well-being, they also have some wonderful offerings in place to get people excited about travel again.
“We will maintain attractive offerings for rooms, restaurants and service for as long as possible,” say Bruno Fanchette, GM of La Maison d’Été. “We are also looking at extending our 30% winter discount from October to December.”
Jacob Jeftha, of La Splendida in Cape Town says, “Room accommodation prices have been dropped to cater for our local clientele – prices range from anything between R700 – R1000 per room per night. And where we can upgrade guests, we upgrade.”
Personalised service is key, according to Chris Raath and Andy Nold. “A keener, leaner, and cleaner property and personnel will be at your service to welcome back our guests who have not been able to travel during these unprecedented times,” says Nold.
“Motswari Private Game Reserve has implemented great offerings for the local market to ensure the beauty of the African bush is accessible,” explained GM Grant Anderson. “The team have been working hard to bring the bush to life through our social media platforms during lockdown and are really excited to have guests back on our game viewers experiencing the beauty of Africa.”
What are your thoughts on the future of tourism in South Africa post-COVID?
While the sentiment of V&A Hotel’s Andy Nold that “the sky is the limit” is shared across the board at Newmark, there is no illusion that the boom in tourism is going to happen overnight.
“Tourism will boom again in SA,” says Paul Rivett of The Onyx in Cape Town. “It may just take a little longer than initially hoped, but the allure of our beautiful country will always remain.”
Chris Raath explains: “Tourism will take a long while to recover. It’s almost like our industry is starting over which gives us an opportunity to refine, improve and learn from the past to give our guests a much more elevated experience.”
Part of this experience, as Janus Schoeman of the Drostdy explains, is a new reality entirely. “Post-COVID is a relative term – when will we be post-COVID? We all have to adapt to these changes permanently to adhere to the strictest hygiene daily,” he says.
This ‘new normal’ is something that might result in international travel taking longer to really kick off, restrictions or no restrictions. As Arline Schutte points out: “It might take a while before our international clients feel safe to travel abroad. There will always be a risk of getting sick while travelling, but we are working hard to ensure that our property is a safe and sanitized environment to welcome back guests.”
Throughout our conversations, the common consensus amongst the resilient team leaders at Newmark is that the future is bright. Travel and tourism is on an upward trajectory and is rising swiftly. The GM’s and their teams look forward to warmly welcoming you back to our exceptional portfolio of properties across Africa as we continue to create unique and memorable experiences for our guests.