Turbulent - that's how we would sum up the year 2020. The past twelve months, which have certainly not been easy for any of us, have brought us many new challenges, not infrequently unsettled us, changed our way of thinking, and often made us very happy and proud at the same time. The current situation gives us the time to look back, review the year and share with you how we are dealing with the situation. Join us on a journey through the year 2020.
Let's start with the last minutes of 2019: A house full of guests and the best of spirits at our four New Year's Eve events full of highlights. At our LIQUID PARTY, for example, there was an extraordinary New Year's Eve buffet - colleagues from all over the hotel gave their favorite dishes to our head chef, who made a suitable selection from all the suggestions. Together with our guests, while feasting, dancing and celebrating and with a view of the colorful fireworks over the Hamburg harbor, we also toasted to the new year 2020 in our waterkant and Skyline Bar 20up, without knowing what all was in store for us. What a glamorous start to the new year!
A new room category
The new year seemed very promising. In February we were already able to announce some news. After a complex reconstruction our five new rooms were reopened! These are located exclusively on the 20th floor of the hotel. Equipped with a gallery floor with freestanding bathtub as well as sitting area, they offer the best opportunity to look over the hustle and bustle of the big city.
The only thing missing was a name for this extraordinary room category. We wanted to find one together with our guests. And so we collected suggestions for the rooms for over a week. We received an incredible number of great suggestions. Among our favorites were Skyside and Empire Gallery. But in the end, one name felt the most right and best describes the breathtaking view of the sky and the port of Hamburg:Skyview.
After almost a year, we can tell you: We receive positive feedback all the time. Our Skyview rooms excite and are among the most wanted room category. It was not unlikely that the rooms were completely booked out for long periods of time.
Our Skyview rooms
Our Skyview rooms
Our Skyview rooms
Our Skyview rooms
An award, new apprentices and a new product shop
The beginning of 2020 brought us more reasons for joy and pride. About 950,000 people have decided: The Empire Riverside Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Hamburg! Honored by the HolidayCheck Award 2020, we have been among the winners since the beginning of the year along with 732 hotels in 38 countries.
We were also able to welcome our apprentices in time for the new academic year. The new apprentices were welcomed on two orientation days, where they were given their first insights into the various departments of both houses and have since become part of our team.
Shortly after, we were allowed to announce more news from our house, because our hotel now has its own product shopsince the beginning of March. Here you will find your favorite products from our house and can easily have that vacation feeling delivered to your home.
Mid-March and everything changed. Since we opened, we were used to welcoming guests 365 days a year. With an average annual room occupancy of over 90%, a restaurant, a very popular bar and 8 event rooms, you can certainly imagine: We are used to hustle and bustle, lots of happy faces and a full house. But slowly but surely it became clear that Corona and the pandemic were becoming an unavoidable term. From one moment to the next, 2020 did not look so promising. Big events that had been planned for a long time were cancelled and we contacted new and long-standing guests. Always with the message: "We'd love to welcome you, but we're not allowed!". This was because Hamburg decided that hotels could only remain open for business travellers.
Our bars and the restaurant waterkant closed their doors and most of our colleagues were on reduced hours and in home offices. We want to be honest, it was a very upsetting time, as it probably was for many of you. There are some jobs that can be done from a laptop at home office. But in the hotel, professions in the restaurant, kitchen, bar, reception and many more simply lacked guests.
To protect ourselves and others, we had to make decisions quickly, think around corners and, above all, stay positive. At this point, only one thing was easy for us - to stay in touch with you. We decided, even if there was supposedly nothing to report at first, to continue sending newsletters and to stay in touch with our community on social media as well. Luckily! We received dozens of messages every day that made our hearts as hosts beat faster. Even though we have said it many times before, THANK YOU, dear guests! Your loyalty is what has carried us through difficult weeks and months this year.
The first weeks of the lockdown have shown us what is important and how important it is, especially in these times, to stick together and be there for each other! Therefore, we thought of one or two things to help and spread a little positivity and love. Due to the sudden loss of our bookings, we had some groceries left over, which we wanted to give to all those who are suffering from the current situation. For the people in need at CaFée mit Herz, a social institution that has been close to our hearts for years, our kitchen team prepared delicious mustard feasts. Every evening for a few weeks, we illuminated the facades of our house with a big heart and a smiling smiley. This was our small and warm thank-you to all people in system-relevant professions. We also hoped to bring a little joy or even a smile to the faces of the people of Hamburg.
Cooking for the people in need
We spent the quiet weeks preparing for a reopening. Various hygiene measures were planned and implemented in order to continue to guarantee our guests an unforgettable and safe stay in our hotel. The preparations and the wait were worth it, because on May 13th we were finally allowed to reopen our doors. Even though we were not allowed to operate at full capacity for the time being and all restrictions in the city were maintained, we were overjoyed to see our hotel revived. With smiles behind our masks, we welcomed more and more guests every day. The positive feedback we received from our guests regarding our hygiene measures proved to us that the efforts were worth it. It was a great feeling to be able to look our guests in the eyes again and experience the joy of their long-awaited stay in Hamburg.
Delicious drinks with the most beautiful view
As soon as it was allowed again, we gradually opened the doors of our Skyline Bar 20up and our DAVID'S as well. The opening hours, the amount of seats as well as our offer were reduced due to the situation. Nevertheless, we were happy to serve delicious drinks with the most beautiful view again. On the day of the opening, there was a sense of exciting uncertainty, because we didn't know what to expect. Will anyone come? Will our guests feel comfortable despite, or perhaps because of, the hygiene rules? Will we find a seat for everyone? One thing was for sure, whether we had many or few guests, we would look forward to each and every one we received. And the guests came. Many new but also many familiar faces enjoyed the summer and breathtaking sunsets over the Elbe with delicious drinks from our bar team.
Skyline Bar 20up
Skyline Bar 20up
Skyline Bar 20up
New situation, new ideas
A lot of creativity was needed due to the new situation. From a breakfast menu, more flexible rates and new packages to a ventilation concept for meetings - we constantly thought about how we could offer our guests more security and a wider range of offers. In addition, together with the boutique hotel i31 in Berlin, we have thought about how we can offer more travel options within Germany to those who like to travel. This has resulted in a big city trip cooperation with a discounted offer for both destinations.
But our Hanseatic city was in the mood to feel life again and welcome visitors. Hamburg residents and tourists enjoyed what Hamburg does particularly well this year. Always changing, remaining inventive and always finding a way to get the best out of every situation. As a local, you are used to being outside as soon as the sun peeks through the cloud cover. But there were probably rarely so many people walking around the Alster and Elbe, as well as boats and stand-up paddlers on the waterways. Our guests also enjoyed the proximity to the Baltic and North Sea. In addition, a variety of new open-air gastronomic and cultural offerings were created. For example, the first pandemic festival took place in September - the Reeperbahn Festival.
The new reality
In the summer and autumn months, our Hanseatic city showed itself from its best side. Long walks, outdoor activities - almost everything felt allowed again. For us, it was a special pleasure to welcome you with a smile behind the mask and to be your home at the port of Hamburg. It felt normal by now to disinfect more, to pay attention to and point out the safety distances as well as other hygiene measures. Despite the restrictions and uncertainty in the hotel industry, we believe in the future of our industry and were especially proud to welcome ten new trainees on the 1st of August.
The second lockdown and today
After many great moments with you, we faced another challenge at the beginning of November. Now, since 2.11, our doors are closed until further notice. This time also for business travellers. You might think it would be easy, but it wasn't any easier for us to cancel reservations and shut down operations the second time around.
At the moment, we are again mainly on short-time work and working from home. Some staff members are holding down the fort every day and answering your calls and emails. Not seeing guests and colleagues is a difficult challenge for born hosts like us. Nevertheless, we are still positive that the hustle and bustle will eventually be over and that we will soon be able to welcome you again with the most beautiful view over the port of Hamburg. The most important thing, however, is that we all stick together, as we take all colleagues and apprentices with us through this time. While the year ends unusually for us instead of Christmas parties and roaring New Year's Eve, we look back on the year with a laughing and a crying eye despite the challenges. We were not able to accomplish everything we set out to do and sometimes we had to realise that all motivation is useless if things simply don't work out. And yet we are richer by three insights:
1. We have an incredible team that always stands behind the hotel, never tires of thinking about how to continue and how to master the challenges. No matter how short internal and external decisions came, our colleagues were flexible and full of energy.
2. We have the most amazing guests who never stop visiting us, encouraging and trusting that they can feel safe with us. We have known for a long time that we have a good community with many loyal guests. In times of crisis, however, the true face always shows and we can say without reservation: that of our guests is lovely. Thank you for your loyalty and not infrequent friendship!
3. We have a beautiful hotel that is worth fighting for and dedicating yourself to. Whether it's the view of the port of Hamburg, delicious menus in our restaurant, refreshing drinks or the beautiful encounters between you and us - these are all things and moments that create unique memories. Both in the past and in the future.
And so we are already busy planning our reopening. When this will be is not known yet. But you can be sure that you will be the first to know!
We wish you and your families a glittering Christmas and a peaceful but also wonderful start to the New Year. Stay positive and, above all, healthy!