Keeping the spirit alive: Q&A with Maurizio Redaelli, owner at Cottage Lodge Hotel

Eloise Hanson Eloise Hanson Uploaded




BHN spoke to Maurizio Redaelli, owner of the Cottage Lodge Hotel in Brockenhurst, the New Forest, about ways in which the team have been mobilised during the COVID-19 crisis.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has prompted hotels and property owners to think creatively about best practice and ways to get through this difficult time. What initiatives have been introduced at Cottage Lodge Hotel?

Despite having had long careers in the hotel industry, we have only very recently acquired the Cottage Lodge and we found ourselves having to close it down in less than a year of trading. Despite the huge challenge of closing a business so quickly after starting it, we agreed without hesitation that we needed to support as much as we could the local community.

Before we knew we were having to close, but things were already turning sour, we posted and circulated a flyer within the local community to offer our help to any vulnerable and lonely person. From picking up their deliveries, posting a letter or even a friendly chat over the phone.

The response was quite surprising and we are happy that we were able to help out some people from the local community. Since the latest restrictions, we now have to help within the new strict guidelines, but we are still helping locally as much as we can.

Why is it important for the industry to think outside of the box? And how might this prompt a revaluation of wider values and priorities?

I believe that our industry has always thought outside of the box, we have to. It is such a diverse and in many aspects a challenging industry, this means we often find ourselves in new and ever changing situations and we have had to learn to become more resilient.

There is no doubt that everything and everyone globally will be very different after all dealing with this gigantic challenge. I cannot predict just how different we will be, but this will surely change each and every one of us! 

The hotel has since temporarily closed in accordance with government guidelines. What steps have been taken to reassure staff, and to keep them engaged whilst restrictions are in place?

We are very lucky to have a fantastic team. We have been supporting each other up until the last day before closing down. We have been communicating with them on a very regular basis and we will continue to do so during the closure. We have created on Facebook a page called ‘Cottage Lodge Community’ beside the official hotel one, where we can post on a very regular basis activities for each other to keep the fantastic Cottage Lodge spirit alive.

How can hospitality employers and employees use the current climate as an opportunity to reassess goals and plan for recovery?

I strongly believe that during this very difficult challenge we will also have a great opportunity to “pause, take a moment to look about us, think and plan”, something that we usually struggle with, as all of us are very busy with our professional and private lives.

My partner Francesca and I truly believe that we will grow stronger during this challenge and we will come back as better people professionally and as human beings. We will also do our best to pass it onto and share with our team and people around us.

When the world opens back up, what might we see? Will trends resurface, or will these change altogether?

I think that at the beginning, many people will have a long list of nice and new resolutions for the after Covid-19 life. Let’s hope that once we pick up the usual frenetic speed in our lives, that we won’t forget what is really important.

When you think about it, we are very lucky to work in our industry. We work in fantastic locations, we welcome guests from around the world and we have the opportunity to work in a multicultural environment. We have an important duty to work very hard within our sphere of influence to change the future and make it better.

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