Luxury Fashion Design Akris Has a Hotel – Art + Michelin Dishes + Culture
Story – as seen in Forbes Magazine by Michelle Tchea
While many restaurants and hotels around the world have temporarily or permanently closed due to Covid, some hotels are gradually opening up and reporting strong sales.
City hotels have been hit the hardest with rural and nature-driven hotels seeing almost full capacity, even in their apparent low-season for these winter resort hospitality leaders. The #Staycation is well and truly alive.
The Einstein Hotel in Eastern Switzerland, located just outside the UNESCO World Heritage site of the St. Gallen Abbey and Monastery, is a regular fixture in my Swiss travels. The hotel caters to business travellers with its accessible location to not only nearby tourist attractions and offices in the greater St. Gallen region, but it also has 2- Michelin star restaurant, Einstein Gourmet and a stunning art collection (thanks to the prominent hotel owner sharing his artwork with guests).
Earlier this year I visited the hotel before Covid struck – since then, many things have changed.
I sat down with Einstein Hotel’s General Manager, Michael Vogt and discussed his struggles to combat Covid, plans for the short-term future and what he had to do to ensure the safety of both his employees and business this year.
“Before Covid, people were looking at the Einstein and secure their room 3 to 12 months in advance. Since Covid everyone is booking last minute or books even as late as on the day of arrival. This made it very difficult for the team to adapt, but now we are used to this new pattern of the pick-up.” — Michael Vogt, GM Einstein Hotel
In a new series to my FORBES page, I’m interviewing top General Managers and CEOs with a legacy of ‘disrupting’ the hotel industry. New stories out weekly on Monday & Friday. #staystrong #staysafe Learn from the best.
How have you navigated the Covid-situation for your hotel?
Our strategy was to keep the hotel open at all times, as this was allowed in Switzerland also during the lockdown. We tried to be kept in mind of the local community that we are still here. We offered an attractive “Home Office” offer to stay and work safe at the Einstein St.Gallen. Since the reopening of the Tourism sector in June, we put forward an offer to the residents of Switzerland including an option to visit more than 80 attractions in the region for free. Oskar – the guest card of Eastern Switzerland
We focused more on leisure travel, as Business travel is missing and tried to increase this leisure segment for us. But we also lounged with Switzerland Tourism the Business and Leisure offer called Bed n bureau: Work at the Einstein, and add a few days for leisure.
How has the rhythm or routine of your day changed since Covid opening? During the lockdown there was no routine at all as my team and I had to navigate through this period as best as we could. Most of may team (90% of my team members) stayed at home during this 2-3 months. After that they came back one by one. And today I can say that almost everyone is back to work. That are the positive news, but I also had to let off about 10% of my team as the forecast until the end of the year is not as it should be. And on top of that one of the two restaurants, the Einstein Gourmet with 2 stars Michelin is still closed and will only reopen again in November 2020.
Have you noticed any change in consumer habits?
Yes we did. Before Covid, people were looking at the Einstein and secure their room 3 to 12 months in advance. Since Covid everyone is booking last minute or books even as late as on the day of arrival. This made it very difficult for the team to adapt, but now we are used to this new pattern of the pick-up.
Have strategies changed or projects been put on hold because of the Virus?
Yes of course, as the revenue is down by more than 50%, the sales and marketing budget had to be cut in half as well. A lot of projects are postponed to 2021 and the rest of the expenses had to be cut in half. And we started to focus even more on leisure travel, sell packages including dinner and excursions and wellness.
What can we look forward to for your hotel?
Guests can look forward to stay at the Einstein St.Gallen. We undertake all measurements for a safe stay at the Einstein. For example we do not provide anymore the breakfast buffet, but offer instead an à la carte breakfast at your table. And last but not least they can look forward to the reopening of the Einstein Gourmet. Until then our guests can of course enjoy lunch and dinner at the Bistro St.Gallen even offering a Gourmet dish created by Sebastian Zier, Executive Chef Einstein Gourmet.