Ever since the lockdown was announced, many hotels around the country had to close their doors to guests and double as quarantine centres to serve healthcare workers, in-bound travellers and affected patients instead. We got in touch with some of them to learn what the experience has been like for our cape-less heroes serving the frontliners at their respective hotels. By Bayar Jain

ITC Grand Central, Mumbai

Indian Hotels housing FrontlinersNirmala Bhanu, Loss & Prevention Manager: “Being a part of a hotel chain that has sustainability practices embedded in its processes and operations, there was a lot that kept us steady. It is this ethos of ‘Responsible Luxury’ that kept us future-ready to absorb this crisis better. During the lockdown, I was working with a limited number of associates in the team and the biggest challenge was to keep everyone motivated. The crises helped us realise that multi-skilling is very important. All the departments helped each other. Even while being safely distant, we learnt how to communicate through sign language. There was an element of fun and learning that helped tide over a difficult time. The fact that my siblings are in the police and the army kept me motivated. The presence of a brand like ITC Hotels, which embodies the warmth of traditional hospitality and an India-first ethos, also helped. I have actually followed this philosophy even before I joined the industry, thanks to my mother who imbibed these values in me! So, I just continued to follow this at my work to stay motivated. At a time when most companies are laying off its employees, ITC Hotels has been extremely caring, supportive of its associates, giving salaries in advance, and even organising regular interactions with the HR. We never felt alone.”

Hyatt Regency Delhi

Indian Hotels Frontliners

Ankur Gupta, Food and Beverage: “Being away from our family was difficult, but we knew we were doing the right thing by staying in the hotel to look after the guests, and keeping our families safe as well. Instead, our colleagues and guests became our new family. We ensured our in-house guests, including crew members and police staff, were taken care of, keeping social distancing and governmental norms in mind. Working under such unprecedented circumstances was a great learning curve for me. It is a time of great teamwork and organisation wherein we all pitched in to find solutions to operational issues.”

Taj West End, Bengaluru

Indian Hotels housing FrontlinersChef Sandip Narang, Executive Chef: “With a preventive lockdown in force, the entire service pattern was disrupted. We realised that there was much to be done in order to support the community in these trying times. Together with Taj Public Service Welfare Trust, we undertook the responsibility of distributing safe and nutritious food to the healthcare workers in the city, and even supplied over 24,000 meals to Victoria Hospital and Old Diseases Hospital in Bengaluru. To cater to the changing needs of the market, IHCL launched [email protected] – a contactless takeaway service. These initiatives are helping us reconnect with our guests. On the other hand, we kept in mind the need of the hour: overall health and wellness of our patrons. The main reason that kept us motivated is our responsibility to give it back to society by helping the frontliners and adapting ourselves to the changing times.”

Hilton Chennai

Indian Hotels Frontliners

Naveen Nair, Assistant Front Office Manager: “It has been a tough couple of months. However, the silver lining has been the power of teamwork and collective support. I have had the opportunity to extend hospitality to guests who are most dependent on us to give them a safe, hygienic and reliable place to stay. I consider it a privilege to be part of the core team at Hilton Chennai that has been looking after guests from the medical fraternity and those who are stranded or under institutional quarantine. We have had to work twice as hard to consistently deliver our experience to our guests, given the challenges we face in the supply of material and the inherent hurdles the pandemic has brought. However, I take pride in my job. And, the support and motivation that my general manager has provided kept us all going.”

The Park, New Delhi

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by THE Park New Delhi (@theparknewdelhi) on

Tarun Sharda, Director of Rooms:COVID-19 has compelled us to relook at our operational strategy and contingency plans. We’ve curated a thorough risk assessment plan and identified all the plausible avenues that might result in exposure to the infection. We have been fortunate that our newly devised system has helped us extend the highest service standards to health workers while ensuring minimal risk to our employees. We are currently hosting healthcare workers and – with the newly established system – we are able to cater to them with our limited resources while maintaining optimum standards of service. A closer deliberation revealed that though we were marginalised on one front; however, there were other societal avenues where we could leverage our circle of competence to make a positive impact. The gratification that ensued has proven to be a strong beacon of inspiration as we are not only catering to the warriors countering the ongoing pandemic, but we are also able to keep our venture viable that supports families.”

Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport

Indian Hotels Frontliners

Tarun Juyal, Director, Sales and Marketing: “We know that times are tough and it will take a while for things to get back to normalcy. However, we are all social and I am positive that guests will start to travel again soon. While the entire world is in shambles to fight the pandemic, we need to stay calm and positive. Everybody is coping in their possible ways to fight these difficult times. Some of the initiatives we have launched are food delivery, takeaway menus, and laundry services for our guests at their homes. Like every other industry, the hospitality industry has also borne the brunt of Coronavirus and seen a downward push in the progress graph. In the interim, we have also launched some additional revenue streams, that may not be too big in terms of revenue but keeps our cash registers ringing. We may never be able to recover the lost revenue, but we can ensure we are prepared for the future.”

The Ashtan Sarovar Portico, New Delhi

Indian Hotels Frontliners

Nishika Dhami, Front Office Assistant: “When our hotel was taken over by caregivers, I – along with my colleagues – saw this as a special opportunity to serve those on the frontline who had been putting their own lives at risk for the larger good of humanity. Naturally, the unspoken fears of doing this crossed my mind. But at every step, we would diligently follow protocols laid down by the authorities, and follow our hearts while serving the doctors unobtrusively. Although times are tough, it has brought all of us together in unexpected ways.”

Related:#StepAhead: Here’s How Staying In Hotels Will Change Post The Pandemic