The vacation in the Corona summer was different than usual – hotel operators know that particularly well. Peter Grimm, manager of the hotel operator Aldiana, says in an interview how he experienced the summer, what happens when guests don't follow the rules and what he expects for the winter.
FOCUS Online: Mr. Grimm, what is your summary of the Corona summer?
Peter Grimm: Austria was definitely the winner of the travel warnings, as did our Aldiana clubs Hochkönig, Salzkammergut and Ampflwang. There were a lot of last minute bookings.
Then it was quite crowded with you – could the guests still keep their distance?
Grim: Yes, everything was possible for us, we had enough space and the weather also played a part. And the majority of the guests showed mutual consideration, so you had a relaxing and safe holiday. But that assumes that you don't have any chaos, otherwise you have to readjust. Especially with the mask requirement.
I don't always imagine that with guests on vacation.
Grimm: That's right. I always say the only variable that cannot be influenced is the guest. 99 percent obeyed the rules, but there is also the one percent who simply couldn't be taught according to the motto: We won't do it.
Exciting, but no time right now?
What exactly are they not doing?
Grim: They do not wear a mask, do not disinfect their hands and believe that they do not have to keep their distance. That is extremely inconsiderate. If, for example, it is said that only two people from outside the household are allowed into the sauna, then the unteachable people simply went in and didn't wait for free capacity.
And how did the club react then?
Grim: We have made it clear that these are official requirements. There is no room for discussion. If someone then says he doesn't care and doesn't wear a mask, then he is not allowed to go to the buffet.
What if he is exempt from the mask requirement?
Grim: Even those people have to adhere to the distance rules and are only allowed to go to the buffet with a mask – the restaurant area is not exempt from the mask requirement. We then offered to bring the food to the table or to the room. Those who didn't want that really only had the option of leaving again.
Were there particularly difficult guests or shall we call it: special cases?
Grim: We had a guest, let's call him Mr. H. He had complained that we would not adhere to the official requirements, that the occupancy rate was more than 60 percent and that the distances would not be kept correctly. We explained to him that it is not the occupancy limit in Germany that applies, but the regulations from Austria – even if we had and have almost only guests from Germany.
But that didn't convince him, he left early. And then wrote to the Upper Austria Health Department, wrote to the market community and the management – and also reported his displeasure on a rating portal.
And how did the authorities react?
Grim: Of course we were checked, the authorities were there, the tourist board came by. But the result was as expected: we would adhere to the requirements and we do. And if someone doesn't stick to it, it costs up to 200 euros.
For the hotel?
Grim: No, the guest has to pay for it out of their own pocket. As the operator, we have complied with all regulations and if a guest violates them, he will be held accountable.
However, the majority of vacationers complied with the requirements.
Grim: Yes, and many were also grateful that we enforced the rules. Because in the end it is like this: My employees and I have the most contact with the guests and then endanger ourselves.
Have you and your employees and yourself been tested?
Grim: We did that. All employees were tested twice, the result was always negative. It was important to us to prove that we are safe hosts.
And were there any cases or suspicions among the guests?
Grim: We did not have a corona case, but of course we had a few calls to the emergency number. These guests then drove to test it and also left.
How many were there?
Grim: Three people were at the test, the results were always negative.
After the positive experiences in summer – what will happen next in winter? Due to the weather, less will be able to play outdoors.
Grim: Of course, full utilization cannot be represented with the distance rules. We have to cover them to ensure the safety of the guests. But we also have to see how the situation develops when the cold season begins and how the number of corona cases develops. We will also offer our guests the usual Aldiana quality – subject to Corona requirements – in winter.
What is the booking situation for autumn / winter?
Grim: We still have two peak phases this year. Once the autumn holidays with guests mainly from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg and Christmas / New Year's Eve. During the Christmas season we are already more than 50 percent occupied and expect to be fully booked again – this time with an adjusted number of guests.