Covid-19: “reasonably” optimistic hosts as summer approaches

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With international guests representing 85 percent of their visitors, Marlborough and Harvest Restaurant Owner Angela Dillon has had to adapt her business to the new reality of Covid-19.

“It was major for us.

“It won’t go back to how it was two years ago, things would change and it would take time to rebuild.

“We need to be flexible and work to keep our staff engaged and stay engaged with the local community,” Dillon said.

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As New Zealand’s borders remain closed, Dillon has decided to refocus on the local market and change its marketing strategy to become more accessible.

“The most important thing for us was to focus on our Harvest restaurant and what we were offering,” she said.

“A lot of people felt like going there is enough for a fine dining experience, so we tried to convey the message that the restaurant was for everyone and not just hotel guests.

“It’s an a la carte menu, so it’s very accessible to everyone,” Dillon said.

The small luxury hotel has ditched the word “lodge” for the time being and is now just the Marlborough and Harvest restaurant.

Marlborough and Harvest restaurant added a new patio garden area last year and will have a further extension by the end of October.

Provided

Marlborough and Harvest restaurant added a new patio garden area last year and will have a further extension by the end of October.

Dillon said he revised the price of his 10 rooms to encourage people to stay longer.

“For example, a premium room costs $ 1,800 per night for high season instead of $ 2,200 and if you stay three nights or more we have discount packages with a 20% discount.

“We hope this inspires New Zealand travelers to come and explore Marlborough, stay a weekend and explore the fantastic vineyards and beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

“Financially, we are looking at the whole business and how to generate income between our restaurant and our accommodation,” she said.

A new garden terrace was added last year and a new extension is underway.

“We have a great product, we have a great team and we continue to look to the future.

“There is nothing we can do to change the situation so we have to stay positive,” Dillon said.

For Lochmara Lodge’s new owners Niki Penberthy and Chris Bensemann, it was a pretty tough start.

Hit by heavy rains and flooding on July 17, Penberthy said it was lucky to be closed for the winter.

“The flood had a big impact on us in terms of new owners and having to focus all of our efforts on cleaning up and restoring the land to be able to open for the summer on time.

“Although there was absolutely no damage to our buildings, the land was hit the hardest,” she said.

“We had a wonderful group of employees who returned to work early to help us with cleaning and customer support, and an immense amount of support from trained friends and family who came to help us as well.

The new owners of Lochmara Lodge, Niki Penberthy and Chris Bensemann, can't wait to open on September 22.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

The new owners of Lochmara Lodge, Niki Penberthy and Chris Bensemann, can’t wait to open on September 22.

“While this is not what we had planned for the start of our home ownership of Lochmara, we know there are many more in the community who have been hit harder by the storm and are doing so. facing more damage and costs, ”she said.

Penberthy said the Covid-19 outbreak had an impact on their bookings, but mainly Australian customers.

“Our New Zealanders are always eager to vacation with us and support us, and although some had to move their dates due to their location in Auckland, overall it went well.

“But we were closed as per the usual annual shutdown, so we weren’t affected as much as some of our other hotel colleagues,” she said.

Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co

On Wednesday, a group of kayakers from Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co encountered an orca up close.

Penberthy said bookings are strong for the upcoming season and they look forward to the opening, as scheduled, on September 22.

Marlborough Tour Company chief executive Abbe Hutchins said the company, which operates several businesses in the area, including Punga cove and Furneaux Lodge, had to “restart” after confinement.

“We ended up with a lot of cancellations and then we kind of had to restart the business.

The Managing Director of the Marlborough Tour Company, Abbe Hutchins.

SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF

The Managing Director of the Marlborough Tour Company, Abbe Hutchins.

Hutchins said they seemed pretty busy for the October school break, but had a few cancellations.

“So we always have to let people know that we are open and that there are still places available.

“But it’s very difficult for people to plan a vacation, they have to be sure they’re not going to end up in another lockdown,” she said.

In view of the busiest season, Hutchins said he was reasonably optimistic for the summer.

“We’re always optimistic because we think people still want to walk the Queen Charlotte Track, want to stay in a lodge.

“And we want to provide them with a great level of service, so that they can come back and do it regularly.”


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