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How lockdown hit Logierait lodges – and transformed them for the better

Logierait Lodges by Pitlochry in Perthshire.
Logierait Lodges by Pitlochry in Perthshire.

The owner of a Perthshire holiday park believes the Covid-19 pandemic was a positive experience for the business.

That is despite Logierait Lodges in Pitlochry being closed for much of 2020, and the first half of 2021.

While staff were furloughed, owner Alex McKie set about a £30,000 revamp of the park.

He hired himself a cherry picker and for weeks on end, he painted the 15 lodges inside and out.

While the site was closed, Mr McKie replaced windows and rewired the entire site.

He says: “Instead of looking at this as a negative, I saw it as an opportunity to do something.

“The news talked about ‘unprecedented’, so I thought let’s do something unprecedented ourselves.

Alex McKie, owner of Logierait Lodges.

“That is refurbish and upgrade our facilities whilst we’re not disrupting customers as they aren’t able or allowed to come.

“That approach was not unique, because I know other owners that have done the same thing, but it’s not commonplace.”

While not all hospitality business had the money to invest, it helped Logierait get ready for reopening.

Logierait Lodges reopening success

On-site managers Hayley Rutherford and Jordan Kay came back from furlough after staying with family to help with the six-week renovation.

The couple have lived by the lodges for nearly five years and cannot remember a time they were not fully booked.

Jordan Kay and Hayley Rutherford live on site and manage the lodges.

Within a week in March 2020 the lodges went from fully booked to fully empty.

What Hayley describes as a “relaxed, cheery atmosphere” quickly changed.

“It was bizarre, so eerie. In a sense it was nice, but you’re used to getting up in the morning and look out at the hustle and bustle.

“But there was just nothing. You could hear a pin drop.”

A large portion of visitors are return guests, and after months in their own home, many were eager to return.

With a massive interest in staycations due to the pandemic, the Logierait team geared up for a busy summer.

Logierait has 15 lodges with one, two and three bedrooms.

Hayley admits they were nervous to reopen because she was unsure how visitors would react to the makeover.

“Everyone was just glad to be out of their own four walls, out into the fresh air, and get a change of scenery,” she recalls.

“When we got going and the first guests were in there was such a nice buzz about the place and it was this big sigh of relief.

“Getting back to the daily grind made it feel like lockdown never happened, but at the same time everything is also so different.”

Support from beyond the lodges

Hayley and Jordan have switched up their check-in routine, but the most drastic change is cleaning procedures.

Before, guests would be followed up to their lodge and given a tour, but now the managers have sorted a contactless check in for extra safety.

Logierait Lodges went through a total transformation over lockdown.

After the visitors have settled in, Hayley and Jordan go around and chap on their doors to check everything is alright.

Despite not being able to meet guests before they are in their lodge, owner Alex helps the managers take care of them long before they arrive.

As managing director of the Fusion Group, he runs a firm focused on providing guest services to hospitality businesses.

As part of the group, Logierait Lodges gets its bookings and customer service taken care of alongside 21 other hotels and lodges across Scotland.

Alex McKie, managing director of the Fusion group, has hospitality businesses across Scotland.

Alex says: “When hotels had issues with retaining staff because of Brexit and the pandemic, they adopted us as being the service provision for guest services.

“The outcome is that our net employment over two years is plus six, which is a 40% growth in employment.

“We’ve gone from 112 rooms to 1,400 rooms. That’s from businesses adapting and changing the way they run their front of house and guest experiences up to the point of arrival.”

Lockdown positives for Logierait Lodges

That has given Hayley and Jordan to ensure the experience is as good as it can be.

In January, they reached the top spot on Tripadvisor for specialty lodging in Pitlochry.

Despite new check-in routines, Hayley and Jordan are glad to welcome guests back to Logierait Lodges.

By now, Hayley has forgotten those initial feelings of worry at the start of the pandemic.

She says: “Lockdown has hand on heart been one of the most positive experiences in the strangest way.

“Because otherwise we would never have had the time to refurbish the lodges and make them better.

“The other positive thing, being part of the Fusion group has brought the team closer together.

“There’s people all over Scotland and every day we’re in the same boat, dealing with the same things.”