Phil (our CEO), went on a much needed break, to Crete, in mid-August. As the owner of our family business, he felt compelled to share his thoughts and experiences of his own holiday:
Well, if you want another perspective about the effect Covid-19 has had on the travel and hospitality sector then mine and Paula’s meeting with Pantelis, the manager of the Aldemar Knossos Royal hotel in Hersonissos, Crete, this morning was quite sobering.
From someone who didn’t want to go to Greece [Phil was meant to be on a Mediterranean cruise!] I offer my apology here.
Grab a coffee…
Sitting in his office there was a definite sign of helplessness in his voice, and, by his own admission, a break-even scenario is the very best that could be hoped for in the one hotel that is open out of the three.
Although that is wishful thinking.
We talked about the pressures and responsibilities of running a family business and how important it is to keep paying wages in the face of challenging balance sheets. About those outside our industry and how we cannot expect them or our friends to understand how desperate the situation is.
The similarities between our government giving very little notice of quarantine to travel agents and tour operators is equalled by his lack of warning from guests who cancel due to other countries restrictions.
He was extremely worried about the Balkans potentially issuing a quarantine for Greece from September and cancelling their flights. Something on the back of Russia cancelling all 2020 would be a huge blow financially for the people of Greece.
There is no way of knowing from one day to the next just how many people will be turning up at the hotel. But, he takes all this in his stride – as he smiles saying “we love the English people supporting Greece”.
He views, like many of us in the travel and hospitality sector, 2021 as the springboard for 2022. A year of confidence building across Europe.
His hotel is spotless and the team at the Aldemar Royal have completely bought into his leadership and are the most positive and accommodating people you could wish to meet.
You cannot access any food or utensils, everything is provided by the team who are attentive beyond belief. Tables are cleaned, place mats replaced after every meal and the chairs sprayed and wiped with anti-bacterial solution.
His team are doing everything possible in a hotel that is eerily quiet for peak season August. It’s quite heartbreaking.
We are both agreed that our respective governments are not doing enough for our sector and neither Greece or the UK has a dedicated minister for outbound Tourism, something he was extremely irritated about.
This is the Old Town Hersonissos today at 5.25pm.
I’ve never felt so emotional (and kind of uncomfortable) being here because it should be buzzing.
We’ve been buying souvenirs and chatting to the locals.
We found a family taverna away from the square and the stories we sat and listened to were hard to comprehend.
But again there is hope in her voice as she is already looking forward to 2021, as are all the people we meet.
This is a lovely city, and only a 5 minute taxi ride from the Aldemar Knossos Royal.
Let’s hope Greece avoids quarantine and they can continue to welcome British guests till mid October.
Tourism accounts for 35% of Greece’s income and this includes the whole infrastructure from suppliers to things such as maintenance workers, food n beverage to the local shops and restaurants.
He fears a similar situation to the UK with wholesale job losses unless the governments actually wake up and work with the travel and hospitality sector.
We talked about our passion of looking after customers and the smiles came back on both sides of the table.
It will be people like us who care so much who will be the leaders in dragging the travel industry through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.
Passion and positivity are not something you can just generate at the click of your finger…they are built within people and are the key ingredients in making a difference to desperate situations.
So please support this amazing country and if you want a holiday this August and September…you can do a lot worse than pick Greece, the Aldemar Knossos Royal and its fabulous people.
Well it’s been a much needed rest, batteries charged and raring for part 2 Travel Industry versus Government & Covid…I know who our money is on Mrs Nuttall!
Let’s smash it…see ya soon Villagers…
PS. Crete you’ve been fabulous hosts and #aldemarknossosroyal thank you so much for your kindness.