Lockdown in London, UK

Londoners are embracing Spring! I know it’s a common thought that it always rains here (and it does a lot), but of late the weather has been simply amazing. Spring looked set to be a good one with bulbs in bloom, cherry and apple blossom everywhere and wisterias taking over the facades of many a Georgian and Victorian terrace house. All in all, we could not have asked for more perfect conditions. That said, there is also a sense of the unknown in regards to what Covid-19 will mean for the UK as we’ve watched countries and their respective economies being brought to their knees. However, I do not believe there’s fear in the air here. At the hotel we continue to welcome guests from all corners of the globe (Perth included, as two of our almost-last-to-depart guests were from Perth and were going back there). But during various guest interactions, all have been positive, despite London not being the London that we all know in the weeks prior to the lockdown. People were starting to catch Coronavirus, the streets were beginning to get eerily quiet, and our hotel’s reservations team began receiving cancellations. And then, as the saying goes “there were none” – and we had to temporarily close the hotel.

While this is a pandemic, the lockdown is most apparent in big cosmopolitan cities. Instead of my usual commute (I live in Kew which is seven miles away from the hotel and I travel in and out via the London Underground’s District Line), I now go for an hour-long walk. Being so well situated to the River Thames, I am able to take in some of the most amazing scenery. Then I get home, have coffee (I feel like I am eating Nespresso capsules) and sit down to work. I’ve found it’s important to keep my day as regimented as possible to avoid getting distracted. My team meetings now take place via Zoom, TEAM and Skype for Business. And while the majority of my team are on furlough leave, I still have my HR, finance, sales, marketing, engineering and security managers all working from home or at the hotel (particularly the security and engineering teams, as the property needs to be protected and some essential services require constant maintenance).

Given I now seem to be glued to the telephone or in various virtual meetings, I did invest in a better pair of wireless ear-pods. Amazon has been a saviour to most as it is impossible to shop for anything other than groceries and pharmaceuticals (department stores and other retail outlets closed some six weeks ago). If I feel like a takeaway coffee, I walk to the local service station – about 3 miles away – and buy one from a Costa Coffee vending machine. It’s pretty average, but it does make things seem a little more normal. All that said, while the bars and restaurants are closed, the positive spirit of the city is apparent. People do generally queue in an orderly manner, respect the social and physical distancing rules and try to support their local shops for their essential needs.

Sadly many lives have been lost – as I write this the UK has reported more than 26,000 deaths from Covid-19. Some businesses will not survive and the economy will almost certainly be in complete and utter shambles. But amongst the bad news there are heartwarming stories which show people helping each other as much as they can. Many hotels, including Great Scotland Yard, have had to shut their doors but our purpose of care has not seized. With donations of amenities to the National Health Service as well as the creation of a Global Hyatt Care Fund, we too as a business are doing our part to support the most vulnerable in our communities. This gives us hope that, while the industry has suffered, the joy of caring for people cannot be taken away.

We look very much forward to the day when we can reopen our doors and start doing what we do best – welcoming and offering great hospitality and dining experiences to all our guests!

I am confident that London will continue to keep calm and carry on.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.