Unmasking identity in the new era of hospitality
by Giles Fuchs
For hotels across the UK, identity is at the very heart of their offering and the experience provided to guests.
Yet, we are entering a new era for the hospitality industry, which is reopening after a prolonged COVID-19 lockdown and the safety measures, undoubtedly necessary for the protection of guests and staff, can risk stifling the expression of a hotel’s identity.
This is particularly the case for those boutique hotels who rely on their rich history and surroundings to offer unique experiences.
In tandem, hotels face the challenge of enticing customers and “staycationers”, as they look to make up for lost revenue during lockdown – the success of which can be key not only to the hotel itself, but also to local tourism and economic recovery.
Striking the balance between safety and identity is no simple task.
However, by embracing safety measures that deliver a more intimate experience, making the most of the great outdoors and celebrating local community and identity, hotels can ensure guests have a memorable stay while enforcing safety precautions in the post-COVID-19 era.
A more intimate experience
There can be no doubt that facilitating social distancing and other basic hygiene precautions in the wake of lockdown can impact the luxury, peacefulness and authenticity of the guest experience.
But, done properly, there are ways to enforce safety measures that can actually enhance the intimacy of a guest’s stay, rather than increase the feeling of restriction.
Social distancing, for example, empowers hotels to deliver a quieter and more private experience for guests.
One such example might be to extend sittings in restaurants, so that guests can dine later and without large numbers of others.
Hotels can also look to open alternative areas for dining, such as lounges or libraries for private or smaller group use, offering a novel opportunity that celebrates a hotel’s identity without compromising on safety.
The great outdoors
After a prolonged lockdown and many months spent in our homes, outdoor spaces and gardens have become more important, offering crucial mental health relief and escape and ease of social distancing.
So, investing in increased outdoor seating and dining areas or maximising the outdoor spaces hotels have available is a further way to ensure guests feel safe without impacting on their experience.
One example hotels might consider is to offer outdoor lunches, teas or even specially prepared picnics, which can help guests to relax more confidently while enjoying the green spaces the hotel has to offer.
Exploring more outdoors-based experiences is a further way to help guests unwind and appreciate a hotel’s unique offerings.
For example, our head gardener at Burgh Island is providing tours of the hotel’s spectacular gardens, while guests are also able to tour the entirety of the island in peace.
Of course, a further factor that often makes smaller hotels so special is their connection to the local area.
From the food on a guest’s plate to the person serving it, a major part of delivering an authentic experience is to celebrate local community, and also to give back to it.
This symbiosis can play a vital part in celebrating identity in the wake of COVID-19.
Hotels can do this by working closely with local authorities and businesses to coordinate experiences, including local artist partnerships, history lectures and fishing trips.
Of course, supporting local farms is another important way hotels can embrace their community and deliver the highest quality service to guests.
What is more, sourcing fresh meat and vegetables from the area doesn’t just support the local economy, it also reduces a hotel’s burden on the local environment.
We are at a pivotal moment in history for the hospitality industry. Hotels looking to reopen their doors to guests in the wake of lockdown must embrace their unique identity to stand out in an increasingly competitive environment, and in turn help their local economies recover.
Enforcing safety measure need not compromise on this. By embracing intimate experiences, making the most of the outdoors and renewing a commitment to the local community, hotels can celebrate their identity without neglecting safety.
We are grateful to Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel, for this article.
Images shown are of Burgh Island Hotel and surrounding area