“Despite the terrible moment there is always a way out”

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© FINO PIZARRO



The Windsor Hotel & Tower is a 63-year-old establishment in Córdoba. It is a family business, founded in 1957 by Rafael Sahade, the same one that built the revolving house in Nueva Córdoba neighborhood. Today the third generation of the family is in charge of the establishment.

Its General Manager, Federico Ricotini (42), evaluated the current situation of the hotel sector in particular and tourism in general as a “terrible moment”, but when projecting the eventual recovery of the activity, he said with conviction and a look optimistic: “There is always a way out, at least we think so.”

In dialogue with PERFIL CÓRDOBA, he admitted that “the moment is terrible for all tourism and we, as part of the sector, are complicated.”

In this context, he stressed the importance of preserving experienced personnel and compared the provision of hotel services, taken as human acts, with the staging of a show.

He considered that “the outlook is very ugly in a difficult context” and explained: “We closed on March 15, that is, in two weeks it will be five months without any kind of hospitality income. A month ago we were able to open our restaurant and bar, which are, within our business units, two very important contributions. But people are still afraid to go out and the influx of customers is not great. On weekends, Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant works very well within what is allowed, which is 50% of the capacity, and the rest of the days it is still ‘lukewarm’ ”.

Hard data

Ricotini is also president of the local branch of the Association of Tourism Hotels (AHT) and contrasts the data that the entity manages: “In hospitality, what we are experiencing is very hard. The government is helping with the ATP, but we are waiting for the DNU to extend the benefits of the program for tourism until December. ”

In this sense, he indicated that “as much as the reopening is tomorrow, reality shows that the same thing that was just said about gastronomy will happen in hotels: we will have very little sales. We have 75 rooms, if we could work it would not be more than 20% of our capacity ”.

Therefore, he calculated: “Until next year we will not have a sale that is moderately similar to that of 2019, that is, return to indexes of an era that was already bad. The problem is the accumulation of all the loss of sales of the last five months plus the complicated situation before March ”.

The large hotels, which work with the reception of foreigners, for example, many from Buenos Aires and some from here, calculate that until 2023 they will not see positive rates in their results again, because until then they will be paying off debts accumulated until they reopen.

“Reflected in years, it would be like this: 2020, all year back; 2021 and 2022, if they can work, it would be to recover and settle debts, and only in 2023 would they earn money again, ”he explained.

However, he estimated that some could see an earlier reactivation: “Hotels like ours, with a corporate and national market audience, primarily, we believe that by the end of 2021 or 2022 we could shorten that gap and already be recovering.”

“That explains,” he said, “why there are small hotels whose owners say ‘if I am going to spend two more years losing money, I close it.’ But the owners of this hotel have other commercial activities that, luckily, allow them not to depend on this business unit, ”he explained.

“The Sahade family are business people, entrepreneurs, with a positive vision, and that is reflected in the same hotel, which has undergone several changes throughout its life. If someone knew the hotel three or four years ago, they will see that the lobby is not the same, everything was done again. So for those who think that it is not worth making more investments, there is the answer: people continue to choose us. ”

In fact, there are new projects for the Windsor Hotel. Before the pandemic, in December 2019, they began with the reform and modernization works of all the rooms on the sixth floor (the last for accommodation, since the hotel has seven floors) and in February those same works began on the fifth.

But, the pandemic came and the work was halved. “The project is paralyzed, but it is still in force; As soon as possible, it will continue, ”he said.

“Faced with the negative view of other businessmen in the field and bearing in mind that the realities are different, the owners think about the future and that this cannot and must not disappear. And they also think of the 75 families of our employees who depend on this company, “he stressed.

It’s like a show

To reaffirm that interest in the staff, he compared the services – as a human act – with the components of a show. “We have driven the hotel employees crazy with courses, trainings and virtual updates, because on the day we reopen, everything has to be ready to receive customers, with the best smile and the best services. Service is a human activity, if the person providing it is not doing well, the result will not be good ”.

“The essence of hospitality is like a show: from the reception onwards, we smile, we speak, it is pure cordiality and attention; back, perhaps we have a thousand problems, personal, work, family. But we can’t pass that on, the bad vibe, to the guests, in any way. ”

“So the concern to stay connected with the staff, trying to keep that ‘state of mind’ high so that, when we return to the activity, guests feel that nothing has changed, even if they have to adjust to the protocols of the new normal ”

“I can throw you all the numbers referring to the economy, those that we handle in the AHT, those that are already known, the projected expectations for 2023, all that. But the human part is as or more important than that, “he said.

Finally, he affirmed: “The hotels that close and say ‘in a year or two we will reopen’ will be in trouble when it comes to retraining people, be they the same or another, to recover the experience, expertise and return to the level of services they had. ”

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