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HAPPY NEW YEAR! May our Dreams Come True!

Updated: Jan 3

The year 2023 was full of challenges and an intensive learning time! 2023 has been a challenging year for us at Zoé’s Paradise Waterfront Hotel. In this blog post, I would like to share how we have maintained an unshakable spirit in the past and turned a crisis into an opportunity.

Confronting the crisis. The year 2023 not only brought challenges due to the after-effects of the Corona period, but also a financial bottleneck as we used up all our savings during the pandemic. We were totally on our own for years because we received no financial government support during the Corona period, even though we had always been a good taxpayer before. So I had no choice but to ask my family in Switzerland for a loan to make certain renovations to the hotel. The Corona period has influenced us well into 2023!

But the following thing really bothered me: some travelers expected from us a hotel with western standards, western infrastructure and a rich breakfast at a homestay price that can barely cover the operating costs. This selfishness and discrepancy has tested our family business like never before!

Leadership challenges during my absence. Due to an upcoming operation requiring intensive care in Switzerland, I had to leave the hotel, which made the situation particularly difficult. I decided to hire executives from Medan to run the hotel in my absence. I shouldn't have done that. None embodied my company philosophy or values. In addition, the sudden very authoritarian leadership style led to significant dissatisfaction in the team and undermined the atmosphere of hospitality that is so important to me. The only option was to stop working with these executives. This phase was a crucial lesson for all of us, teaching us that not every change leads to an improvement. I then managed the hotel as best I could from Switzerland via video calls and traveled to Samosir Island as often as my therapy schedule permitted.

EDUCATION AS THE KEY TO SUCESS. Since the majority of our new staff had never had contact with Western guests or with foreigners in general, I had to get creative and decided to train the employees intensively. I invested time during my visits to explain European standards to these young people and what guests from industrialized nations expect. We have also focused on teaching our employees the intricacies of international hospitality, intercultural communication and empathy. Our intensive efforts bore fruit and our staff began to enjoy dealing with international visitors and something remarkable happened: our staff developed an exceptional sensitivity to the needs of our guests and often exceeded their expectations. Each team member, along with the management team, became a critical part of our success! 🥰

Our transformation also had an impact beyond the hotel walls. We have integrated local service providers into our concept and supported the local economy with our sustainable approach. Our employees became ambassadors for their own culture, fostering a deeper understanding and respect between our guests, their culure and Batak culture.

Through all the changes, one thing has remained the same: our warm hospitality. Our team strived to make each guest's stay as memorable as possible. This authentic hospitality, coupled with our continuous drive for improvement, has made our hotel a unique destination for both domestic and international travelers.

The turnaround with German leadership. Based on previous experiences, I decided to take a different path and sought help from a German manager. She has extensive Emirati experience and her understanding of Muslim culture and Western service standards is exactly what we need here on Samosir Island. Although Samosir is a Christian island, it also has many Muslim guests.

Ms. Melanie brought fresh energy and a new perspective to our hotel. She is adept at bridging different cultures and fostering an atmosphere of warmth, openness and respect within the team. The energy of “WE ARE ALL ONE” is made even clearer by Melanie’s presence, who emphasizes that we are all in the same boat and that this ship, called Zoé’s Paradise Waterfront Hotel, is run according to German and Swiss standards. Guests can therefore continue to expect Western standards in our hotel.

Our future. Our journey of transformation has taught us that resilience, adaptability, and strong team spirit are indispensable. We are proud of how far we have come and are excited about what the future holds for our hotel. The year 2023 is a testament to innovation and community. It shows that through commitment, creativity, and collaboration, even the greatest challenges can be overcome, and how one can successfully reinvent oneself while remaining true to one's roots.

Ensuring that my values as the hotel's founder continue is extremely important to me, and I have realized that only Western leadership can implement this task in our hotel.

Sustainability, situational leadership, and being a role model must be truly lived, as this is the only way to work together!

I'm really looking forward to traveling to Samosir in a few months and being part of this great team temporarily. Zoé will join us during her summer holidays and we will return to Switzerland together.


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