The Tschuggen Grand Hotel sits proudly overlooking the mountains of Arosa. Inside the 5-star luxury hotel are disinfectants on every level, but guests roam freely without masks, as do some of the hotel wait staff in the Grand Restaurant. Things are a little different in Switzerland where the country’s most prominent hotels (albeit not necessarily city-based hotels), have shown more than 85% occupancy post covid.
The summer season is not the peak season for this hugely popular hotel in the Graubünden region of Eastern Switzerland, Winter will test whether the Tschuggen Grand Hotel can in fact ‘beat’ the Coronavirus. But if the summer season is anything to go by, the rehearsed staff will fit for yet another record breaking season.
“A big plus at Tschuggen Grand Hotel is that it’s located in beautiful nature surroundings which automatically provides a lot of space and a feeling of freedom for our guests and this fortunately means that the security measures have less restrictive effects.” — General Manager, Stefan Noll
I sat down with General Manager, Stefan Noll and long-time hospitality expert with decades of experience in leading 5-star hotels about his strategies to navigate the Coronavirus. As hotels slowly open up around the world, despite many luxury hotels in Paris choosing to stay closed, Stefan tells us about how his strategies and implementations for the upcoming winter season.
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How have you navigated the Covid-situation for your hotel?
Stefan Noll: Our biggest priority always was and still is to ensure safety and health for our guests and employees. We have therefore implemented a protection concept within our company and are strictly adhering to the specifications of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. This includes for example limiting the number of people allowed in our restaurants or the spa area. An active, open and constant communication with our employees and guests is key for us. This allows us to prevent insecurity and helps us to increase the mutual understanding of all parties. The feedback we get for our safety measures is very positive and we will make sure to keep them in place for the upcoming winter season.
How has the rhythm or routine of your day changed since Covid opening?
Stefan Noll: A big plus at Tschuggen Grand Hotel is that it’s located in beautiful nature surroundings which automatically provides a lot of space and a feeling of freedom for our guests and this fortunately means that the security measures have less restrictive effects. What’s new is that our days now start with measuring temperature from every employee when they come to work. Then of course, a lot of our meetings are happening virtually instead of personally now and a bit more explanation and communication is needed with guests. But in general, our focus lies in creating unforgettable experiences and memories for our guests, which has always been the core of our work – this has even been intensified by COVID-19.
Have you noticed any change in consumer habits?
Stefan Noll: The guests that visited us after lockdown were really looking for privacy and relaxation in beautiful surroundings. Therefore, we noticed a slight increase in private experiences such as in-room dining or the private spa suites. Furthermore, there was a higher demand in outdoor activities and in general, the average stay was a bit longer than in the past years.
Have strategies changed or projects been put on hold because of the Virus?
Stefan Noll: We are expecting the overseas travelers to be a bit more hesitant and therefore had to slightly adapt our strategy – but as Switzerland and the European countries are our main markets anyways, this only had a minor impact on our strategy. In addition to that, we have decided to limit bookable rooms in our hotel. This means that we will only sell 75% of our rooms this winter which will help us provide some extra space for our guests and ensure guests and employees stay safe. Apart from that, we are working on many different projects and are very much looking forward to an exciting winter season.
Originally published on Forbes.com