GOLOCAL

Business was the best it had been for a five-star Rotorua luxury lodge before the Covid-19 pandemic meant the owners had to reinvent the business in order to survive.

Now, post-lockdown, business is picking back up for the lodge with a newly-launched a la carte menu and a renewed focus on events.

Peppers on the Point lodge manager Ann Gregor-Greene said 90 per cent of their business was from international guests pre-lockdown.

"My two-year anniversary rolled over in June 2020 and we felt so excited that we had turned a corner with great growth over these past two years with an increase on sales revenue every month," she said.

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"Considerable upgrades and investment had been made into the property and future bookings were strong."

But she said the collapse of the tourism and hospitality industry due to the pandemic meant they had to think quickly about how to survive in a new environment and appeal to the local and domestic market instead.

Gregor-Greene had arrived in the United Kingdom just four hours before her father passed away when it was being considered whether New Zealand should go into lockdown.

Her travel agent phoned to advise her she should think about travelling back home.

"It was unbelievable timing," she said.

After spending two weeks in quarantine back in New Zealand the country went into alert level 4.

"I came back to something completely foreign. It was a whirlwind for me."

She said the property had done some of the best trading leading up to the lockdown and it left them wondering what their future looked like.

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"The decision was to hibernate and sit tight and look to re-open in September," she said.

"Unfortunately, some of the team had to take redundancies after the first wave of
subsidy."

However, Gregor-Greene the lodge began receiving enough phone calls to rethink hunkering down and they decided to reopen.

She had noticed most of the guests were people who had planned a trip to Bali but could no longer go due to the pandemic and were splashing out on local attractions.

Gregor-Greene said the decision to change the food and beverage offering at the lodge was something they had all been thinking about since before lockdown.

"We have always been open to the public, but this was not widely known as we rarely advertised it."

So they developed an a la carte menu and decided to market the restaurant as a separate entity.

The restaurant was named The Mains after lodge owner Jamie Main and officially launched on June 15.

Gregor-Greene said a renewed focus was back on events with the increase of the number of people allowed at gatherings.

The stone chapel built by the owners during the Global Financial Crisis will again become a focus as a wedding venue and plans made before the lockdown to upgrade the log cabin and villa apartment will continue.

"We retained seven staff and have since begun increasing hours and even bringing some staff back on."

Gregor-Greene said many Kiwis were guilty of saying they would visit somewhere but had not yet got around to it.

"There is no better time than now to do it," she said.

"We have got to keep supporting our local industry so we can continue to trade otherwise we are going to lose businesses and that would be very sad."