The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is helping businesses thrive out of lockdown after a troubling year, with more than a tenth of companies closing their doors during the pandemic.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions on 17 May many businesses were able to open their doors again, however over the last year thousands of establishments have closed, latest surveys indicate.
They have similarly issued over 500 licenses to outdoor hospitality to give trades the best chance at success.
SWL spoke to three hotels in the borough, to see how they are working with the council as they reopen.
London Marriott Hotel Kensington
Jaqueline Bernadi, general manager at London Marriott Hotel in Kensington had to make the difficult decision to reduce the size of her team to counter the effects of the pandemic.
She said: “A hotel is just a building without any staff and guests.
“None of us have ever experienced something on this scale. Our team became a family, and we were co-dependent on raising each other’s moral and remaining positive.”
Bernadi has been in regular contact with Kensington & Chelsea Council to discuss how they as a hotel community can best support other businesses and residents in the area.
At London Marriott they have introduced many new services to appeal to guests including the Marriott Bonvoy Local Explorer Package.
The package offers bespoke itineraries for the whole family, recognizing the importance of family time to forget the challenges of the last 12 months.
Bernadi added: “The key to unlocking this situation is creativity and innovation, offering new services and offers that are attractive in this post-COVID-19 era.
“While digital technology has become critical in many parts of our business, our industry is built on our commitment to care for our customers and go the extra mile.”
However, just a third (32.9%) of Britain’s pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises began to trade again by the end of April 2021, a survey from CGA and Alix Partners indicates.
Oliver Plaza Hotel
One business that has still not opened its doors is the Oliver Plaza Hotel in Earls Court.
Baiju Krishnan, revenue and marketing manager at the hotel, is working hard to keep his small team of 15 to get through the crisis, keeping in regular contact with them and pushing for a grand reopening.
Krishnan said: “These are difficult and challenging times for everyone but especially the hospitality industry.
“But certainly, the council and government have helped a lot in terms of a cash flow cushion.”
Krishnan has been in regular contact with the council and thanked them for their help with the furlough scheme and the full discount on council tax the past year.
Oliver Plaza Hotel have paid close attention to guests’ wishes and when they open will offer discounts at local restaurants and retail bars to help customers and allow local businesses to flourish with them.
Across Britain there are 9.7% fewer restaurants to choose from, compared with before the pandemic.
Lorenzo Soleri, the general manager at Bagilioni Hotel in Kensington prefers to not look back at the past year, but look towards the future with optimism.
The hotel has gone from strength to strength since reopening after being closed for 14 months with a severe impact on the business.
Soleri said: “The opening week was a joyous moment for all our team and guests.
“The pandemic reinforced how precious the contribution of each team member is and now more than ever we are ready to work together to provide the finest experience to our clients.”
Soleri has been in constant contact with The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, getting support when needed regarding licensing or initiatives to promote businesses.
Cllr Catherine Faulks, Lead Member for Economy Employment and Innovation said: “Kensington & Chelsea is a small borough, but we have a huge offer for residents and Londoners: now is the time to make the most of vibrant Kensington & Chelsea.”