June 5th, 2020
“Don’t make it personal”, we said. “This is a hostel, not a B&B”, we said. The trouble is, as anyone with their own business will tell you, it IS personal. From the 3/5 star review on Trip Advisor that has you up at night to the lovely comments on social media that you share with your family: Everything about having your own business is personal.
Which makes it so hard when you have to go through something like the current situation. Watching everything you’ve built with blood, sweat and tears just crumble (or at least feel like it’s crumbling).
When we closed Cohort on 20th March I was in total denial of what was about to occur. Just days before we’d been organising packed lunches for school groups, working out a partnerhip with a new chef and organising the new staff team with our Assistant Manager. It felt like we’d gone from travelling at 60mph into the new season straight into the world imploding.
I appreciate that what I was going through was nothing compared to people who were suffering at the hands of this illness however that almost made things harder… wanting to rant and rave but feeling like I didn’t really have the right to do so.
So… for the first time in over 10 years we found ourselves at home with nothing to do except work through the admin of temporarily closing a robust and growing business.
I don’t ever want to go through those following 6 weeks ever again. It was definitely a type of grief – from denial “this can’t be happening, they’ll open up again things within a couple of weeks” to anger and self-pity “this is so unfair, just as we were coming into a year where everything felt like it was finally in place” to bargaining and then finally to a point of acceptance.
I’ve been in ‘acceptance’ for a while now and for that I am both relieved and delighted. My family and I have been able to enjoy Cornwall in all its glory – from wandering empty beaches to great walks across the Cornish moors on sunny days – it’s been a real privilege to be locked down in such a gorgeous place and I am very grateful for that.
However with lockdown easing (controversial as that might be) and the mumblings of hospitality businesses being able to open in July it is now time to get back to the real world and re-think everything from the ground up.
My first thought was ‘how the hell can you socially distance in a hostel?’… yet weirdly enough it’s more manageable than it first appears. It means changing the flow of the building, the emphasis on the ‘social experience’ will be car-parked for the time being and we will initially need to reduce capacity in order to ensure people feel safe in the building.
It’s a total re-think that’s for certain and we’re nowhere near there yet but, unlike how I felt 3 months ago, I am confident we will be. I am confident that Dan (my husband and business partner) will throw everything at this situation because inevitably and as history proves, situations like this usually result in things being done better.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather absorb these changes over 5 years having not lost a significant amount of income, however maybe a short, sharp shock is what we need to actually make those changes. A gentle nudge (as proven by climate change activisits) doesn’t ever seem to work – not on any major scale anyway.
So, here we are, a little bit back at the beginning again. It was never my intention to go 3 steps forward and 2.5 steps back but I’ve learned that there is just no point arguing with the way things are. Stamping my foot in self-pity may have worked when I was a pre-schooler but has very little effect in the wake of a global pandemic (funny that!).
There’s comfort in us not being alone; there’s still a little hope that the government will extend some specific help to the travel & tourism sector and then there’s Dan and I and our very personal objective which hasn’t changed in 5 years… to make Cohort truly awesome; to make it welcoming, comfortable, safe, clean and fun for everyone.
We’ll take over this blog for a little bit to chart our journey over the next month or so… from now until our opening in July. Keep in touch on Facebook if you’re interested and if you see me at reception when you come and stay then let me know if it was OK to make this personal.