Everything is more or less ready for the reopening of Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine on July 1st. Who better than our director, Enrique Valero, to tell us about the intensive preparations and safety measures that have been put in place to make the stay of guests and clients as pleasant as usual.
Covid-19 has dealt a heavy blow to the entire tourism and hospitality business in Spain. But virtually since the closure, we have been working on ways to readapt the spaces to the new reality and to ensure a safe stay for our guests.
The winery, whose activity is considered essential and has not been interrupted during the lockdown, has been a good testing ground to put in practice safety measures, cleaning protocols and the use of masks as part of the daily routine. Enrique Valero is absolutely certain that, in this context, “the safety of clients and employees is the top priority”. In this interview, he describes the most relevant elements of this long-awaited return to the new normality.
How did Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine handle the crisis?
It was a significant setback in a year that had started on a high as our bookings were 40% up from the previous year. We received the first cancellations around February 20 and the decision to close was taken on March 6, a few days before the state of alert was declared. The safety of our employees and clients was our main concern and from that day on we set to work on a plan to reopen the hotel, spa and restaurants, whilst ensuring the strictest of guarantees.
What was the response of the clients?
The best news is that there have been no cancellations; instead, people have postponed their trips, both in the case of private individuals and businesses. Foreign clients have moved their dates to October and November or the following year. A Russian couple is getting married in August and the bride doesn’t want to cancel. They don’t want their money back -they want to get married at Abadía Retuerta. This is something that fills us with pride.
What is the strategy in the short and medium term?
The obvious one is to swap foreign clients for nationals. This requires us to rethink our plans for the Spanish market, but the challenge is extremely attractive. Right now, luxury agencies are looking for private properties or quiet places to recommend to their clients this summer.
What are the main changes that guests will notice when they return to stay at the hotel?
There will be no check-in as such, and we will try to minimize contact. We have the advantage of space, both indoors and outdoors, so guests practically do not see each other. Anything that is not strictly necessary will be taken away from the rooms. We will changes the amenities (in fact, we had already decided to make them plastic-free), there will be fewer pillows and, most importantly, an ozone disinfection system in the air flow that will be activated every time guests leave the room.
What new measures will be established for employees?
We will use a temperature monitoring device and staff will work with mask and gloves. We are considering having a health manager present at the team meetings to insist on the security measures. Creating a Covid-free seal is also being discussed and we are watching all the developments in this regard.
What about the communal spaces?
The Vinoteca restaurant will lose about 50% of its capacity, but we will offset this with the tables in the outdoor garden, weather permitting. In the event of rain, we can use the conference room. Space is not a problem for us. We have 8,000 square meters in the historic building and 700 hectares for 30 rooms. And on the culinary level, we are going to champion local produce more than ever before.
Does Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine offer any additional health and safety services?
We maintain our usual insurance that guarantees medical assistance for our clients within 50 minutes. For very urgent situations, we have our own heliport.
From a more general point of view, what changes do you envisage in terms of tourism this summer?
Until now, people normally stayed at central destinations such as Madrid or Rome with short trips to enjoy an experience at Abadia Retuerta or in Tuscany. But this paradigm is going to be reversed. People are going to look for a base in a pleasant place outside the big cities and then go for one-day shopping trips to Madrid or Rome. The new priorities will be safety, nature, outdoor activities, local produce and the avoidance of crowds. There won’t be any buffets for a while, either.
Can we talk about a new kind of nature tourism?
Yes, indeed. Being outdoors surrounded by nature will now be synonymous with safety and low-risk activities. In addition, it provides an emotional outlet for anyone who has had to endure the lockdown in big cities. Furthermore, nature-focused tourism helps to boost the territory. And this fits in very well with our commitment to our local surroundings and environment.