Coronavirus Diaries: The Kaleidoscope Collection

Kaleidoscope is a collection of hotels with over 60 guestrooms, located in Bath and  employing over 50 staff. Our current portfolio consists of Homewood, a country house hotel and spa, and The Bird, Bath hotel in Bath’s Spa town.

The most difficult part of lockdown is the unknown length of time for the hotels to be closed, therefore Covid-19 brought an unprecedented set of challenges and problems but also opportunities.

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As such, communication between the senior team has been fundamental to dealing with our challenges and advancing the business across a number of areas. A twice weekly operations discussion via zoom and a weekly commercial meeting has been at the core of us having quality conversations, good decision making and tracking our progress. Our general managers have Zoom meetings every two weeks,  keeping our great team informed as we move along this unusual journey.

Making the best use of having guest-free hotels was core to our action planning and this has led us to invest unexpectedly in both hotels. At The Bird we have been able to install air conditioning to most rooms, fully paint all the windows and develop our outside pop up to be ready for the summer.

At Homewood, our goal was to paint all the external windows and improve the hotel frontage. We had planned extensive changes to the Terrace at Homewood and also created 10 new rooms, and whilst at the beginning we could not have contractors on site, once on site with social distancing they could advance at full speed without any guest satisfaction impact.

We made the conscious decision to use the time wisely to plan ahead, and as a team we were committed to being well  prepared for Christmas and New Year, but also be ahead of the game for the quieter period of the first quarter in 2021. We also made changes to our support services for our digital, website and social media marketing. Putting time and energy into the planning of our pop ups over the next six months has been excellent, we are ready to open a summer garden at The Bird, a Christmas Tavern later in the year and a superb outside Terrace at Homewood featuring a Robato grill and pizza oven

We agreed on a joint commitment to support the fantastic NHS and also some of our close allies in Bath, including the Holburne Museum and Bath Festivals. We started with a take-away service on Saturday night in one hotel and now are active and very busy with burger nights, Sunday lunch and Afternoon teas. We now regularly serve over 200 fish and chips to the local community every Saturday  night. We are excited to be handing over cheques to all three local charity organisations at the end of June.

Clearly much of our time is focussed on reading and absorbing the government announcements as they arrive and we weekly debate and agree the way forward. Planning a successful and safe reopening for all our stakeholders is critical. Making changes to our brand identity to match the uncharted future is also paramount, we are fortunate to have beautiful outside spaces and it’s essential we maximise the use of these, but also market them in the right way.

One of the best outcomes from working with the team through these difficult times is creativity; we are planning to deliver to our guests offers which are new to us,  uch as lovey picnics in our grounds, to continue with our take-away service, a safe kids play area, hampers for guests to take away and a new package which means guests can stay at both hotels enjoying both the city and the countryside in one stay.

In summary, whilst these have been hugely challenging times, we will look back and as a team reflect that we made the best use of this time and created great foundations for the future.

By Ian Taylor, hotelier and owner of The Kaleidoscope Collection

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