How did your property perform in 2020 and what are your expectations for 2021?
For the first time in over hundred years of history, we decided to prolong the summer season 2020 into autumn. We took the decision because of the Pandemic and extended the Season until 18th October 2020. Usually the summer season ends at the beginning of September. We gained a positive experience and it was well worth the try. Our expectations for 2021 are relatively optimistic but as you know, planning has been simply not possible. We want to remain flexible and agile.
With the pandemic easing and vaccinations in full swing, what are the key challenges which you are still facing? What about opportunities?
The key challenges will remain the planning of the seasonal structure and with it the staffing. We see most opportunities in becoming increasingly an attractive destination for the summer. We are located outside of St. Moritz, offering perfect access to nature and the most spectacular views. The abundance of fresh mountain air is something guests would like to experience and to avoid crowds, which you will not encounter here in the summer or autumn.
How has your customer base changed, of in any way? Are you considering targeting new markets for the mid term future?
At Suvretta House the top three guest markets are Switzerland, Germany and the UK. This has been the case for a very long time. We have maintained these markets for decades and it proofed to be the right thing. As the UK market broke away due to the Covid-Pandemic, we noticed an increase from guests from France and Austria.
You have been pursuing the gradual renovations at your property, including the lobby, not just accommodation. Tell us more
We have also invested into the infrastructure during the past seven years guests won’t notice for example we installed new state of the art main cooking units in all our kitchens. We changed water, electricity and ducting pipes, lighting facilities and made a major change in the IT. We invested into snow making facilities on our own private ski area and also in the facilities on the Suvretta-Randolins downhill slope. This enables us to offer ski-in and ski-out from the start to the end of the winter season.
What are the key differentiating factors which have proven to be a major competitive advantage during these times?
To be located in nature and being able to offer a private Skilift to our guests offering access to the entire Corviglia skiing area (350 kilometers of slopes) has been the key factor in winter. In the summer our location was an advantage too as guests could explore the beautiful countryside for walks or hikes. Our 3 tennis courts have proved a hit during the entire summer season. Furthermore, we offered fit and fun activities in the summer to all guests included in their room rate. A daily activity for teenagers and adults as well as the popular picnic on Wednesdays.
Discovering, nurturing and motivating talent is essential for luxury hospitality. Tell us more about your approach.
It is very important to nurture our staff. You may have noticed that many of our employees are sporting stars on their uniform? A star stands for 10 seasons meaning 5 years of loyalty. We are proud to achieve around 70% return staff members season after season. This supports our philosophy to offer consistency to our guests and helps a great deal recognize them.
What are your expectations from authorities and how do think the industry can recover faster with a common voice?
I recently wrote to the Person in charge for the department of economics in the Canton of Grisons to thank him for his efforts to keep the skiing areas open this winter. This is a major achievement and essential for the hotels and many other businesses in our area. Our Canton has been one of the first to introduce testing for employees of businesses and many communities such as St. Moritz refund the expenses for the test kits. This is the way forward and reassures our guests and employees. We hope sincerely that the vaccination is being sped up now in Switzerland as this will make the big difference for normal life to grow back and also the economics. Tourism plays a big part hence this is what we need sooner rather than later.
What are the novelties we should be expecting for the rest of 2021?
I believe that guests want to get away from home. Most countries have been facing and experiencing lockdowns for a long time. Many businesses struggle hugely from the current situation and the aftermath. I do hope for everyone that the vaccination proofs to cure these massif impacts. We are all human beings and are not destined to stay in the flat or house for months. Therefore, I hope that normality returns soon. We also learned a lot during the past 12 months. We had been affected by this pandemic and we should all remember this and continue our way considerately and respectful.
How has the perception of luxury changed? – if in any way. Are you catering to consumers with different needs and / or requirements
I think that many guests have realized that health is part of luxury and the way you enjoy your precious time with your loved ones. To feel safe and secure has in my opinion become one of the first priorities. To smell the scent of a stone pine, to see wild orchids growing here in the summer or to watch snow gently falling and to feel it on your face, to breath in fresh mountain air these “luxury elements” are given to us by nature and such experiences have become precious and cannot be taken for granted.
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