Linda Bridgman, Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa

Linda Bridgman is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa in Courtenay, a popular, award-winning boutique resort renowned for its hospitality, waterfront setting and world-class dining. Linda has been a leader in the hospitality industry for over two decades, and her career highlight includes the coordination of the 2010 Olympic Media Groups and Paralympic organizing committees.

How is Kingfisher Resort coping right now?

It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenging year to date, with a small fire in our spa in early January, followed by our resort closure due to COVID-19 mid-March. However, we know we are a resilient team and that we will get through this new challenge together. Over the last few years we have already accomplished so much, with substantial renovations in our spa, building a new garden, two new restaurants and a new accommodations wing. This is yet another hurdle we will overcome together. We are also comforted with the knowledge that we have incredibly loyal guests and an amazing Vancouver Island community who will support us when we re-open in the near future.

How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?

We temporarily closed the entire resort, which included our accommodations, spa and two dining venues, essentially shutting down our revenue stream.

The tourism, spa and restaurant industries are some of the hardest hit. Travel will commence again, however initially it will not be as before. Therefore, we will need to continue to adapt and prepare for new protocols. Markets will shift to more regional travel, with everyone staying closer to home.

Our leadership team’s number one priority leading up to our re-opening day is the health and safety of our guests and our Kingfisher Resort team members. We are focusing on preparing new standard operating procedures; ordering PPE, participating in training webinars and conference calls with industry experts to gain knowledge on how we can prepare and what may lie ahead.

What advice are you giving yourself and your team for riding this out?

As hotel, spa and restaurant industry leaders, DMO’s and associations, we are all in this together, and now more than ever, we need to work as a collective tourism community on Vancouver Island and across the province. We also need to continue to think outside the box, with creative ideas on how we can shift our overall product offerings and pivot to adapt to what is ahead.

What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and your business?

There is an opportunity for us to further expand our new online offerings with additional signature resort products and new resort packages. We are getting creative on how we serve our meals, expanding our outdoor dining area and providing take-out ‘picnics’ for our stunning Serenity gardens, complimented by live acoustic music.

We have launched a new Ocean7 Restaurant online take-out and meal box offering to local Comox Valley residents. Within 30 minutes of a take-out order, locals can enjoy freshly prepared meals, elevating the dining experience at home. There are also meal boxes containing Oceanwise seafood, grain-fed meats and organic locally grown produce with instructions to cook or grill at home created by our Executive Chef Richard Benson. An impressive selection of wine and beer are available to accompany the order.

Our Pacific Mist Spa has followed suit with online spa retail products for purchase. Spa retail products can be shipped directly to our customers across Canada or available for local pick up seven days a week.

These initiatives have enabled us to hire back some staff in the interim to re-opening.

What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?

We have already had experiences renovating while operating a serene spa resort and a small fire at the resort. With each obstacle we have come together as a team to work through logistics and brainstorm to overcome each challenge.

What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?

I’ve been connecting with industry experts, participating in webinars and leaning on my colleagues as a leadership team, in addition to staying closely connected to our owner in order to get through our temporary closure and prepare ultimately for our re-opening in the ‘new normal.’

What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?

We are all in this together! Travel, spa and in-room dining may be on pause right now, however the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching. Let’s connect within the hotel industry to collaborate. We look forward to welcoming back our wonderful guests and team members to the Kingfisher Resort and to Vancouver Island in the near future. Ocean7 Restaurant and AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar are slated to re-open in the latter half of May and hotel rooms are now available for online bookings starting June 1st, with the spa to follow.