25 April 2022
After the pandemic hit, the all-suite apartment-style hotel stayed open but reverted to a core team of nine who lived in-house for three months to look after their guests, who included a number of key workers and NHS staff.
While the situation with Covid and the restrictions was a new world for them, the team never lost sight of what’s important – to make guests feel, happy, safe and at ease, in a home away from home environment.
Nola Collinson, Director of Sales at Staybridge Suites Newcastle, recalls: “One of the guests who really touched our hearts was a nurse who had to isolate from her two children and husband, as he had previously had a kidney transplant and was at high risk of infection.
“She was working long shifts at the hospital on a demanding ward, however every time she arrived back to the hotel there was always a smile and a friendly conversation. One day, the team could see that it had been a particularly hard day for her and wanted to make her feel better. They got together and created a little pamper package, (chocolates, wine, love hearts, bath bomb) and left it outside her suite.
“The next morning, she came downstairs emotional and saying ‘I can’t believe how nice you were to do that – it totally changed my day, thank you’.
“In addition to key workers, we also had guests who were working for the companies creating lateral flow tests, and other guests who were stuck in the UK away from their families due to travel restrictions. In our own little way, we felt part of the bigger picture, supporting those who were on the front line.
Because Staybridge Suites each have their own living space, kitchen and bathroom, it was in many ways ideal accommodation during the difficult early months of the pandemic – and much appreciated by its occupants.
Nola says: “It was phenomenal for us for people to understand what we offer and what’s in place here – we had so many people tell us how much they loved staying with us and how much they appreciated all the facilities our rooms come with.
“It was a difficult time for the team as they had a lot to do as well as dealing with the weekly changes of Covid restrictions but getting comments like that really helped and I think the whole experience has stood us in really good stead now that we are starting to come out of the pandemic.”
Staybridge Suites’ guests are fairly evenly split between extended stay guests staying for a week or more and shorter stay leisure and business guests coming to explore Newcastle or attend a meeting.
Staybridge Suites Newcastle also has meeting facilities to accommodate between 10 and 12 people for smaller meetings in a relaxed atmosphere which Nola says is increasing in popularity as more and more businesses start getting back to meeting face to face.
“People have forgotten how much working relationships are built on being with other people, on that human contact,” she says.
“There is no substitute for getting together and being able to do so safely is really important. Having the AIM Secure accreditation gives people that extra reassurance and confidence.”
And for getting back into the groove of business meetings and events, Nola thinks that NewcastleGateshead is an obvious destination.
She says: “It’s easy to get here and once you are in Newcastle, it is easy to get around as everything is in easy walking distance.
“The most important thing about Newcastle is the people – we go above and beyond to make visitors welcome and that’s not just the people who work in places like Staybridge Suites Newcastle.
“We recently had some American visitors staying here who are absolutely blown away by how nice and how friendly everyone is – if you look like you’re lost, people will stop and give you directions, and everyone is always more than happy to recommend a good restaurant or a bar.
“We also do things a bit differently here – Newcastle is like a family and us Geordies love to welcome people to our city.”