From growing first herbs in 2019 at the Garden Route in South Africa to adding more plants every month and shopping for edible vegetation during lockdownSA myself at the nurseries close to...
The impact of COVID-19 on our Garden Route hospitality
COVID-19 has affected every sector across the globe, and the hotel industry is among the hardest hit. Travel bans, Beach closures and negative biased news about South Africa hit us hard. While the view from the house is still incredible and nature became even more
The Omicron Variant in South Africa
According to latest news the Omicron variant is on the decline in South Africa and may have peaked.
Road to recovery: Making the hotel experience safe at la Vista Lodge
When asked what it would take to travel again, most leisure travelers want additional health and safety measures.
The Team at la Vista Lodge is fully vaccinated.
Management, Staff and Owners.
Bookings affected by Pandemic
We had waves of cancellations in 2020 and 2021. We have always repaid all bookings during this pandemic that had to be cancelled. The few remaining open refunds were paid with year end 2021. Together with your refund you received a voucher for a discounted stay in 2022/23 at the Lodge to compensate for your waiting time.
We are happy to see guests planning to visit Plettenberg Bay in 2022 and beyond.
To cover variable and semi-fixed costs, luxury hotels conservatively need occupancy rates 1.5 times greater than economy hotels.
Ade and Amos are keeping the property well maintained. We do have a strict monthly maintenance plan in place.
For electricity we are charged high amounts from Bitou Municipality despite we are using a minimum amount of Energy. This was reason enough that we are currently looking for ways to expand our existing solar system in 2022 through RenEnergy.
We did cancel all listings on third-party booking platforms to avoid 10-30% commissions. That’s the money that would otherwise go to Booking.com and out of South Africa towards Airbnb, Expedia and other booking portals.
Please Book Direct!
Jobs in Plettenberg Bay
A South African business that is foreign owned gets no support from South African Government. Every Guest that books for 2022 directly supports jobs. Gardening, Maintenance, Cleaning, Hospitality Service, Accounting, Marketing. We weren’t able to keep all employees but the focus on the food garden made it possible to keep a dedicated passionate team employed.
Meanwhile: Urban Gardening gains momentum in Pandemic in Plettenberg Bay
Our recently started Food Forest project on the sunny north slope of our property made all the difference to not lose hope. It was not an easy task to get people involved to do permaculture gardening while not being able to stay in South Africa myself all the time during this crisis.
A crisis is an opportunity. Isn't it?
“I see you are growing food but for whom are all your veggies if not for your gardener only” - Accountant in 2020
“Gardening is not for girls” - Cleaning-Staff in 2020
“I have other work to do” - Manager when asked to grow food in early 2020
In September 2019 just before the pandemic started we began to grow food below the pool at one spot within a really large garden area of the property that was neither used from the previous owner nor from me to grow food so long.
It´s main purpose was to further reduce the low noise level of the N2 (Garden Route Main Road). That road means very easy access for all activities from the house but depending on the wind you can hear it. We are quite centrally located in bowtie in Plettenberg Bay and you can see cars from the house. Tiny little cars slowly driving through the scene. So dense vegetation was it´s main purpose.
What initially started as "we nee more herbs" became a full scale Food Forest that impresses Gardeners and Tourists from around the world. The Project was inspired by James Prigioni and Kevin Espiritu from Epic Gardening.
It quickly became a 7 year project to establish a self stable Forest Garden where you can eat fruits and veggies in abundance. We are proud that we started before Covid. It gave us a head start and kind of feels visionary. Although it takes long to find acceptance within society to put so many efforts in growing food. Most people think it´s not necessary or won't make an impact. It´s just a waste of time.
We did not stop growing food and with every new wave of Covid Amos and Adé increased their time at the Forest Garden and people started realizing it´s not just a hobby.
In order to manage all the food that we are growing we supported a kickstarter Campaign by Paul Dysinger called seedtime in April 2021. Paul added a feature to manage multiple Gardens in December 2021 :) after we suggested that feature. He will also add a Garden Layout Planner. How awesome is that?
Another Kickstarter Gardening Campaing was Greenfinity that we supported during COVID. Their product has arrived before Xmas 2021. Another small step in our process to grow more food. We can now propagate more plants in 2022 with our kids.
How can we still afford the property
Luckily we are running a traditional bakery in Germany
where we are baking artisan Franconian Gingerbread and a fine selection of xmas cookies. Who doesn't like those? We don't advertise our bakery because it´s a small bakery with very limited space and we can't bake more than 12-13 hours a day. I personally start my day between 3 and 4 in the morning.
Excuse any brevity in this time. It´s mad.
We work every day from early August until Christmas. Non stop!
New Hotel Website and more Garden Route Content
we moved the website and gave it a new look and added much more valuable content throughout the pandemic. Free drink for you or a free healthy snack from our garden for feedback of mistakes on our new website. As non native English speaker I am sure there are still some left.
Hosting of Influencers during Covid19
We hosted The Married Wanderers , The Unconventional Route and many more before the pandemic. Suddenly with COVID19 travel came to a full stop in 2020 and did not recover fully in 2021. This gave us the opportunity to host local and international travel influencers to record more content at the lodge and from local Garden Route Attractions. It was a pleasure to host Luke Galavanting in the most quiet time.
Why we quit with Booking.com in 2020
After 6 years (2014-2020) of mainly getting the majority of our bookings through booking.com we decided to cancel the partnership where we had to pay high commissions to booking.com.
Thereafter Booking.com still advertised with our name for many more months and confused holiday makers because there was no more listing of our accommodation. They managed to get bookings for other accommodations this way. It took until 2021 for us to show a positive effect - David against Goliath. And if guests don’t book direct we may lose.
For the last 6 months we saw our rankings on google.com climbing and decided to also quit our listings on AirBnB, hotels.com and Expedia. We kept focussing on our Story and Growing more Food and hope that people will worship our efforts over time. Our own website of our accommodation can now be found among the first rankings on google and not listings of third party portals showing only an old fraction of what we have on offer before our website.
We only take Direct bookings from now!
Do you book direct?
This way we can offer better rates and more funds will stay in South Africa. We have less channels to manage and spend more time to improve the accommodation.
Imagine - If South African Hotels would quit booking.com like we did - they would have billions more of South African Rand in their own country to spend.
We are hopeful for a recovery process like the next seeds germinating in our food forest in South Africa.
We are thankful for your patience during the pandemic and hope to host you again.
The Will Family