Today we start a new informal series of posts where, in true personalised boutique style, visitors and guests are offered a little peak behind the scenes here at Londa. We will be interviewing various key staff, from the Caprice Restaurant to the Londa Spa and others who are sure to have fascinating stories to tell!
In the age of social media, and with more than 500 hotels listed on the various travel sites for Cyprus, today’s traveller is “curious” to find insight through the “authentic” and “meaningful” in their holiday destination, and hotel accommodation! We hope this little series will offer a worthwhile snapshot.
Our exclusive ‘insider’ interviews kick off with Londa General Manager, Jochen Niemann.
Q: Londa has once again won the World Travel Awards for Cyprus Leading Boutique Hotel 2019. That’s nearly 12 years in a row. It’s a remarkable achievement — what is the secret of your continued success?
JN: The secret behind our success has to be our devoted staff, the majority of which have been with us for many years. I have to say that there’s not one who is not totally dedicated to the hotel and its goals, and every day always trying to exceed our guests’ expectations. With so many years of service, they feel the hotel to be their ‘home’ and consequently, our guests as their ‘family’, with whom they are always trying to build a ‘personalised’ relationship.
Q: Previously, Londa has also won or been nominated for both Mediterranean and Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel. There can be no doubt that a ‘boutique’ lifestyle experience is often the preferred option for many types of visitor to Limassol. What types of guest would you say are the biggest fans of Londa?
JN: Our biggest fans are our repeat guests who return time and time again for the special Londa experience of true personalised service.
Q: “Wellness” plays a major part in a boutique hotel’s range of facilities for many guests. What makes Londa Spa so unique in the therapies and treatments it offers?
JN: First of all, our Spa Manageress is devoted to always providing the highest possible level of personalised therapy experiences. To ensure we are always on top of latest improvements and innovations, our Spa therapists are constantly trained in cutting-edge techniques and new treatments.
Our Spa is unique because we research and develop our own organic signature treatments, which we offer alongside the internationally well known brands, such as Elemis or Thalgo Spa-Therapy.
Q: Londa first opened her doors in 1980, so the hotel must have seen many changes over the years. What would you say has changed the most about say, the expectations of guests about the hotel and its style of hotel service?
JN: When I took over the role as General Manger in 2005, the Londa had just been transformed to a lifestyle boutique hotel. Before the renovation, the service was very traditional in its approach. After the makeover, guests expect a service style which goes in hand with the new modern design and boutique concept. Ever since that time, our aim is always to build a relationship with our guests based upon individual experiences which, naturally creates a more relaxed, refined and enhanced atmosphere.
Q: What was the most unusual request received from a Londa guest?
JN: As you might expect, we occasionally receive some quite funny and unusual requests, and it can be difficult to keep a straight face! Sometimes, a request can be really strange as well as amusing. One example, at the beginning of December, a guest requested the air conditioning to be switched on because 22C in her room was too hot!
Q: This summer, Londa introduced a totally new ‘Healthy Dishes and Super Foods’ section for the Pool Bar Menu. Clearly, more people than ever before are embracing healthy-eating, vegetarianism, or veganism. Do you see Londa’s own Italian style Caprice Restaurant heading more in that direction or will the much-praised ‘Mediterranean diet’ always contain meat, poultry and dairy?
JN: It’s not only the international tourists who have become more health conscious but also the locals too. Having said this, meat is a traditional Cypriot food that’s served on special religious occasions in the form of Souvla — large pieces of meat cooked on a long skewer over a charcoal barbecue — as well as Halloumi, the well-known Cypriot cheese. Our priority is always to give our guests the choice and let them decide which diet they prefer to follow. There will always be meat, poultry and dairy on the Caprice menu but vegetarian and vegan dishes are here to stay too.
Q: Londa has an established Sunday Jazz Night, which brings diverse concert musicians from around the world to participate in a musical journey together on the Caprice Balcony. Have there been any standout performances?
JN: Our guest musicians are all world-standard but I personally like concerts involving the saxophone and trumpet besides our regular trio comprising piano, double bass and drums. A stand-out performance? That usually occurs when individual works are well known to the audience who will be totally engaged. I remember one particular concert when the musicians played jazz versions of old school pop, modern and even classic songs, which was a truly memorable performance.
Q: Who was the most famous musician or visitor to have made an appearance or even stayed at Londa?
JN: We host quite a few famous musicians and actors, mainly from Greece. Lately, famous Russian actors and composers visited or holidayed at Londa. The last one performed her new single “unplugged” on the Londa piano. Since I am not so familiar with Greek and Russian musicians, my personal highlight was the visit of my favourite “Designated Survivor” actor Kal Penn last year. Besides that, we always welcome on a regular basis, local high ranking politicians.
Q: Among the various regular events staged by Londa over recent years, there have been exclusive wine-tasting evenings and Mum & Baby Expos. Can you give us any sneak previews of what may be up and coming?
JN: The next Mum & Baby Expo is already scheduled for 13th October. Around mid-September we plan to stage our next ‘Wine & Dine’ evening, and are looking to host a dinner for the international gastronomic society, ‘Chaine des Rotisseurs’, at the beginning of November.
Q: Limassol is renowned for its huge variety of local events and attractions, from street carnivals and wine festivals, marathons and yacht shows to international opera, classical drama and modern dance seasons. What event seems to always attract the biggest number of guests to Londa?
JN: The biggest attraction remains, by far, the Limassol Carnival, which is held 12 days before Lent, starting on the Sunday before Ash Monday, and is the most popular amongst the locals. The Londa has always been fully booked over this period. Residents from various Cypriot cities come down to Limassol to celebrate. Then we have the traditional Wine Festival at the end of August. Several repeat tourists will schedule their visits around these days. In recent years, other events such as, the Limassol Marathon and the Boat Show have started to attract more international guests.
Q: May through to September is the high wedding season, and Londa has long been a favoured venue in Limassol for staging remarkable wedding celebrations. While it’s safe to say that many would be traditional in their approach, it’s also very likely that some couples were up for a more individual “boutique” occasion. What was the most unique wedding at Londa and secondly, which was the wedding event that you feel best sums up the Londa style of wedding celebration?
JN: As a boutique hotel, our approach to wedding celebrations mirrors our “boutique” philosophy. You will definitely not see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” style parties at Londa! Instead, the focus tends to be on more smaller, intimate celebrations. A typical number of wedding guests at Londa would be up to 75, gathering either on the pool deck during the summer months or in the Caprice Restaurant.
We also receive quite a few inquiries to send out wedding packages. As previously mentioned, we always adopt a more’ personalised’ approach and prefer to speak to the guests first so we can create a tailored proposal.
Probably the most unique wedding ceremony took place on the Londa beach. It was just the wedding couple, who “borrowed” our Food & Beverage Manager to be their witness!
Q: During the busy holiday seasons, life at Londa must get pretty hectic. Even the best-run hotels can suffer an unexpected mishap or near calamity?
JN: Funnily enough, when the hotel is in full swing, we usually operate at our best! Mishaps occasionally occur and sometimes, like a “chain reaction of misfortune”, more than one mishap happens to the same guest! One can only apologise, and hope to turn the situation around so that the guest will leave with a satisfied smile!
Q: Easter, Christmas and New Year can all be extra busy periods for a Cyprus hotel – even more so for a 5 star boutique property. What unique or special preparations do you carry out to ensure the most perfect experience for all Londa guests?
JN: As we speak, our Chef is busy preparing special gala menus for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, as well as lunch buffets for Christmas and New Year’s Day. We usually host up to 100 guests for each occasion, which is a challenge for our small restaurant and kitchen team.
It’s not only the number of guests but also the small turnaround time. New Year’s Eve celebrations often continue right through until 6 am when we start to serve our Early New Year’s Day Breakfast. It’s important on these occasions for our teams to not flag so a bit of extra motivation may be required. It may be a regular working day for us but our job is to ensure it will always be very special for our guests!
Q: The definition of a “luxury” hotel experience has been transformed by the boutique concept of the ‘authentic’ and ‘meaningful’. How do you see the future of the boutique hotel concept in Cyprus and is there a direction you would like Londa to take in fulfilling the changing expectations of their guests?
JN: I believe there is room for more boutique properties in Cyprus. Recently, a boutique hotel with 22 rooms opened in an old house in downtown Limassol, and there is sure to be more traditional village houses high in the mountains, which will be transformed into small hotels.
How do I see a future Londa? I would like the hotel to take an even more sustainable approach because I am convinced this is the right and responsible way to go forward as our guests become increasingly environmentally concerned.
Coming soon! Exclusive Londa interview with Caprice Restaurant Executive Chef, Michael Vassos explaining what’s next after the success of his new “Healthy Dishes and Superfoods” Pool bar menu.