It’s been a tumultuous few months for the hotel and restaurant scene: many have limped along on Jobkeeper payments, some have closed permanently, while others have taken a break. Brisbane's Calile Hotel took the latter option, using the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to retrain staff and rethink certain elements of its business.

Today the hotel is finally reopening, welcoming its first guests since April 8. The Calile’s in-house restaurant, Lobby Bar, has also reopened.

“We are genuinely excited to be welcoming our guests back to The Calile,” owner Cal Malouf says. “We have taken the opportunity during this time of hibernation to refresh. As beautiful as the Calile is, people are essential to animate the experience.”

This is good news for New South Wales residents looking to book a holiday north, now the Queensland government announced it will reopen its border from July 10.

On-site restaurants Hellenika and SK Steak & Oyster have also reopened, after closing for the federally mandated nationwide shutdown from March 23. Hellenika is open from 12pm seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and weekend breakfast from 6.30am. SK is open for dinner from 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, and for lunch on Fridays from 12pm. ⁠

While some venues switched to takeaway service under the lockdown, Hellenika and SK owner Simon Gloftis says he and his 70-odd staff used the closures to instead step back and completely re-evaluate how they went about their business.

“It made us go … back to the reason why we do it: hospitality,” Gloftis says.

“We’ve been upskilling, reading, listening to audio books, holding zoom calls with guest speakers, including a special class on service culture from the international food and beverage director of the Hotel Bel-Air in Beverley Hills.

“Right now is a really important time for hospitality,” Gloftis continues. “If you have the chance, come and support a venue, spend a bit more money or tip the staff a bit more than you ordinarily would.”