Of all the industries most impacted by the effects of the coronavirus, one could argue the travel industry is high up on that list. Many individuals have remained at home over the past few months, leaving getaway destinations to alter their normal operations and prepare for how they will best accommodate loyal guests in the future. Some however, such as Middleburg’s Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, were able to keep guests entertained even with the global pandemic continuing on.
Since April, Goodstone has made its guest cottages and houses available for those looking to escape city life to isolate on the 265-acre estate. And now, as phase one of reopening has begun here in Virginia, the Inn is continuing to move forward by offering a drive-thru grocery option, as well as Good To-Go Takeout for visitors and cottage guests. Plus, some events have remained scheduled this spring with intimate weddings streamed on Zoom.
For Goodstone staff member Kylie Beck, the latter is her main focus right now. As the wine-country-surrounded Inn continues to adapt to the changing regulations of the region, Beck shares her take on what it’s been like to work in the hospitality industry during the pandemic.
How has the global pandemic impacted the day-to-day operations of your job?
My primary focus at Goodstone is the sales of weddings, corporate experiences and other events. Across all of these categories, onsite visits and tours had completely stopped, but we continued to offer virtual tours through imagery and telephone. I’d say that corporate has slowed most significantly but I have been pleasantly surprised at the incredible optimism I continue to see from our brides. I believe that with the newly engaged at home, they actually have more time to put thought into their weddings. Not only do we continue to receive new inquiries from them but we are actually still continuing to secure new bookings.
Talk to me about what life at Goodstone looks like right now.
At this time, our dining options are limited to a touchless room service available exclusively to our overnight guests. Rather than individual stays, we have seen great demand for extended-stay cottage rentals from families wanting to retreat. We truly look at ourselves during this crisis as more of a service provider to the community and really enjoy seeing the families and couples who come visit our property throughout the day for picnics, photo shoots and hikes as a mental escape.
How have you been able to work with and accommodate clients whose events have been canceled as a result of the pandemic?
Unfortunately the postponements have been unavoidable. With each new change in the state or CDC recommendations, we have had to adjust accordingly. While it is all inclusive, our brides don’t receive a one-size-fits-all solution. They get very custom in bringing their vision of their special day to life, so we haven’t seen many cancellations as they still wish to host the experience that they have invested their hearts into at this point. I’d say we have only seen about 5% choosing to totally cancel. In those cases, we have been exceedingly accommodating.
Under the 10-person limit, we have executed a few elopement-style weddings. In a lot of ways, these intimate elopement-style weddings have been the most magical experiences we have hosted on the property. Some of them have been just the couple, not fancy, just love. When you only have two guests, you don’t have to spare expenses. It’s been great for us to watch some world-class vendors come together to create these romantic settings.
Talk to me about The Conservatory, which I understand is closed right now. What do you imagine the operations will look like for the restaurant in the coming months?
Throughout the beginnings of the pandemic, we began to provide more spacing between our tables to allow for as much room to breathe as possible for our guests. Just as we were eased into the current shutdown in phases, we anticipate we will be eased out of it, with our restaurant not quite at full capacity for quite some time. With this said, we anticipate private space rentals and outdoor dining will become tremendously popular, and we will be ready to deliver on those requests.
What has been the most challenging aspect of adapting to this new reality?
We really miss our customers! The majority of this team entered the hospitality industry because they are passionate about service. We enjoy being busy and bringing smiles to people’s faces and we can’t wait to get back to doing what we love.
What adaptations have you made to ensure clientele remains connected and interested in staying at Goodstone in the future?
Goodstone’s social media has become a platform where we do our part to spread as many good vibes as possible to the community through uplifting messages and images that allow your mind to wander to good places. We have also increased our email communications considerably, providing updates to all of our friends, as well as daily one-on-one communication with all existing clients.
What are you most looking forward to doing when this pandemic finally ends and social distancing is no longer a requirement?
I am most looking forward to watching my clients’ event visions come to life and witnessing their joy in celebrating milestones with us.
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