Mighty Local Stories

Hidden Lake Hotel

Dinner boxes and ‘lockdown holidays’ – a Cambridge hotel with a community touch

A new boutique hotel in Cambridge could never have predicted the curve ball around the corner when they opened just before Christmas – the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the Hidden Lake Hotel operators, Glenda Hamilton and Chris Turner, have quickly found new ways to do business by building connections with the community.

The modern 33-room hotel and apartment complex in a picturesque setting overlooking the Te Koutu Lake Domain in the centre of Cambridge, has strong sustainability values.

Two initiatives in particular, ‘lockdown holidays’ as well as launching a hot delivered meal service to Cambridge homes, has had other unexpected benefits.

After doing a shout out on social media just before the lockdown, the hotel ended up hosting five ‘over 70s’ guests from various places around the North Island who may have been otherwise living by themselves and facing the daunting Covid 19 pandemic lockdown alone. And they don’t want to leave. “It went really well, and no one has actually left yet, as they all decided to stay on during Level 3 as well,” says Glenda.

The guests used the opportunity to be closer to family, have some company and enjoy three supplied meals per day.

It meant that the hotel had some occupancy and income – rooms were let out at cost - as well as keeping staff in work and learning new skills.

Glenda, who has extensive hotel management experience, also utilised the down time for staff training and professional development opportunities.

“We have a really good team here. So, people who would not usually house keep, did housekeeping, and people who were not usually in the kitchen would help with cooking.”

It gave staff an understanding of all hotel operations, while learning new skills and going that extra mile to care for guests.

Hidden Lake Hotel has also this week launched “D’Arcy’s Dinner box” a $35 delivered three course hot meal service in Cambridge.

“We are playing on the room service thing, by knocking and shouting ‘room service!’. We are just trying to bring the hotel out into the community.”

There is a personal touch to the meals, as the fresh produce used in the meals is grown by her uncle D’Arcy, who is in his 80s, and is an amazing gardener.

While the future is unknown, Glenda hopes to soon see a resumption of corporate and domestic travel to Cambridge sooner rather than later.

But in the meantime, they are enjoying the company of the older folk, who are loving it too. There are many acts of kindness, like the guest who is knitting headbands for the staff.

“We are lucky our guests are still here. We will just keep on doing what we are doing so we can focus on something positive and work away at rebuilding.”

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