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Hotel Service / Hotel Amenities / Mexico Hotels / Punta Mita Hotels / Nicaragua Hotels / Four Seasons Hotels / → All Tags
Infinity pool at the Four Seasons Punta Mita
Gaining a competitive advantage has always been part of the hotel business, but as the number of properties worldwide continues to increase and marketing efforts such as "beachfront," "all-inclusive," and "luxurious" become diluted, resorts are now going to the next level in order to distinguish themselves from the pack. For example, this hotel in Peru hired help that will literally bend over backwards for its guests, and lord knows we've seen our fair share of interesting hotel packages.
Enter the latest move by the Four Seasons Punta Mita, who recently launched what we're calling water waiter pool service. That is, waiters who wade into the water so you don't have to leave the edge of the infinity pool to retrieve a fresh drink. The new service is like clockwork. Beginning at noon, these "amphibious waiters" suit up and make a delivery to swimmers every half hour, whether its a smoothie, coffee, or adult beverage.
Our front desk guy has been stressing the importance of great hotel service in the past few weeks but this five-star hotel in Peru is going to the extreme.
The Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa, a new addition to the Relais & Chateaux portfolio in the Urubamba Valley, has hired four former Cirque du Soleil acrobats who perform outdoors on the trapeze and ropes with the views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the background.
Yes, it's come to this. Hotel are now so eager to please their guests they have hired people who will literally bend over backwards for them. Guess we can't really complain about that.
Superior Casitas at Sol y Luna, which is 30 minutes from the Inca Rail to Machu Picchu and an hour from Cusco, start at $266 a night and that includes free WiFi.
[Photo: Sol & Luna]
Back in January, we got in a cab in front of our hotel and took it across town. A few minutes after arriving at our destination, we realized that our phone was no longer in our pocket and had fallen out in the cab. What ensued next was about an hour of panic and scrambling, calling the cab company and trying to get in contact with the driver. Because we didn't have the cab number, we were completely out of luck, never able to get in touch with the driver to see if the phone was still there in the back seat.
It was an experience that happens to the best of us when traveling, and it was obviously not something to blame on anyone else. But this week, a simple gesture by a hotel helped to make sure it didn't happen again. We bunked up at the Shangri-La in Bangkok, and every time we hopped in a cab, the bellman handed us a little card with all our cab's information on it. Luckily, we never had to use it, but we thought it was a really solid move, and one that would be a lifesaver if we forgot something in a cab. It would have certainly helped us back in January.
Hotel Service / Hotel Concierge / Luxury Hotels / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Washington DC Hotels / → All Tags
For 10 years running, Mother Ritzy Duck has been showing up at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown in Washington, DC, to hatch her brood in style. We guess you could say she has a standing reservation at the hotel (yuck, yuck).
This year, the team at the hotel has taken the utmost care to ensure that Ritzy’s stay is a true Ritz-Carlton experience that exceeds her needs and expectations -- lucky duck! –- and has assigned a "Just Ducky Concierge" to ensure her stay is a good one. A set of SOP (standard operating procedures) on Distinguished Duck Care has been written by the concierge to assist staff in taking care of this VID guest.
First and foremost is that Ritzy only gets Ritz-Carlton bottled water and absolutely no people food. Once a day Ritzy has lunch and then goes for a dip in the pool, which cools her eggs and helps with her baby ducks’ development, but for the last few days before hatching time, mama duck is given gourmet organic duck pellets so that she can eat in comfort while waiting for the little guys to make an appearance.
According to European folklore (and Metallica) a late night visit from The Sandman brings deep sleep and dreams. Which is a lot less creepy than the name implies — because frankly, “The Sandman” also sounds like some kind of serial killer summoned by chanting his name in the bathroom mirror. Just saying.
Luckily (or not, depending on your predilection for heavy metal and horror movies) it’s the former, shuteye-inducing Sandman paged by the new “Sleep Menu” available at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. The menu offers complimentary rentals of simple aids like ear plugs and extra blankets, plus a humidifier and a sound machine full of sleep-inducing background noise: Thunder, white noise, babbling brooks and whatnot. (Ask nicely, maybe they’ll upload Lady Gaga’s latest. ZING!) Drop a little extra dime, and you can get anything from a relaxing eye mask to chamomile tea, a Hot Toddy to a bottle of “Relax” brand wine.
And of course, you’ll be resting your head in the same Hard Rock where music stars like Cyndi Lauper and Boyz II Men have recently caught some Z’s. Guy Fieri too, but we weren’t going to mention that. We’re going for sweet dreams, not high-cholesterol nightmares.
When this writer checked into the 428-room Boston Seaport Hotel, one of the first things the clerk went out of her way to tell me was that there was no tipping at the hotel. I figured I'd heard her wrong, so I asked her to repeat it. She smiled. The craziest part is when she told me it's not a new thing - the hotel has had a no tipping policy since it opened in 1998.
Fifteen years ago, it put its then 260 employees through 35,000 hours of training on all aspects of guest service, from opening doors to room tidiness, and taught them to do it all without expecting a tip.
We've talked a lot about tipping on this site in the past, and there's always a debate about who should be tipped and for what. I found the no tipping policy at the Seaport to be extremely refreshing and impressive. Two reasons stand out in particular. 1) When receiving help from the staff, I didn't immediately feel like I owed them money and 2) I felt like the employees genuinely wanted to help me, and when it comes to the travel industry, that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when money is involved.
We recently received a press release and this first sentence caught our eye:
“Once a bad review or a negative article of a hotel/resort is written online, there is no way to delete it. However, thanks to ReputationChanger.com, provider of something called ORMS or online reputation management services hotels/resort managers can now bury negative reviews to fix a tarnished online reputation. ReputationChanger.com can help hotels/resorts clear negative reviews, control, monitor, and manage their online reputation.”
Well that certainly got our attention. Could this be a Kosher operation given the drama with TripAdvisor? Would this company Olivia Pope these hotels and “handle” their negative reviews even if they're well deserved?
We weren’t sure we liked the sound of this, so we contacted the company to find out more.
OpenThread / Hotel Restaurants / Hotel Woes / Hotel Reviews / Hotel Service / Hotel Rant / → All Tags
The other day, we were meeting friends for brunch and settled on a restaurant in a Brooklyn hotel which shall remain unnamed*. We'd heard nice things, and having popped inside the lobby once or twice, we figured it would be an opportunity to soak up the vibe, relax, and eat good food.
It all started when the hostess refused to seat us until the rest of our party had arrived, even though we could see plenty of open tables. Fine. We told them we'd wait in the lobby and order some tea. Well, we had to elbow our way to the bar to get that done. And after one barista impatiently took our order, we lingered for ten minutes waiting for the tea to materialize (how hard can it be? You fill a pot with water and stick a teabag in it) before giving up and heading back to the lobby.
Five minutes later, another grouchy barista tracked us down in the lobby to inform us our tea was sitting at the bar—in other words, he could have brought it out to us, but didn't. OK, we said, we'll come get it. On the way back to the bar, we requested that the tea just be added to our brunch bill since we'd already put our names down for a table.
"Fine," he said, as if we'd just asked him to commit adultery.
Evidently, this was not off to a good start.
Morocco Hotels / Marrakech Hotels / Boutique Hotels / Hotel Reviews / Africa Hotels / Hotel Service / → All Tags
Yesterday we teased today's full review of Riad Joya, a boutique hotel planted squarely in the middle of Marrakech's Medina, the most ancient part of the city. Having made the claim that Joya provided us with the best service ever experienced, it's only fitting that we elaborate on such a bold statement.
Yesterday we dished on a new survey that said online reviews are mostly positive but today with the release of the newest J.D. Power and Associates annual hotel survey, overall guest satisfaction has apparently dropped off. Huh?
But wait, it gets even more confusing. The survey also reports that guest satisfaction with room rates and fees have increased as have occupancy rates. This actually strikes us as strange because we've been seeing a lot of silly new fees implemented at hotels lately, coupled with the usual suspects like resort fees, internet charges and parking. But apparently, you all don't mind about that.
However, you are displeased with the other parts of your hotel stay from the hotel facilities and operations to services. But there could be a reason for that.
And now we leave you with a special guest post from Paul Carr, the man who spent three years living in London hotels, an envious escapade which not only serves as the premise for his book, The Upgrade, but which also gives him license to lay into London hotels for their overpriced rates and poor service. And away we go.
When Samuel Johnson suggested that a man who is tired of London is tired of life, he clearly wasn't paying $500 a night to stay at a mid-refurb Radisson in a drafty twin room overlooking some dumpsters. In fact, if you want to become tired of life very quickly, a night in a London hotel is a great place to start.
I should start by emphasizing how much I love hotels. I love hotels so much, that three years ago I gave up my apartment in London, sold nearly all of my possessions (all that wouldn't fit in a single carry-on bag) and began living as a permanent hotel-dweller.
Since then, by virtue of having no fixed abode (and very little shame), I've enjoyed a life of ridiculous excess and adventure, met thousands of incredible people and had more fun than is perhaps sensible for a grown man. Certainly more than is legal: my adventures have landed me in jail cells on at least three occasions (that I can remember) and ultimately lead to me finally quitting drinking and writing a book about my misadventures: The Upgrade, which just so happens to be published this week in the UK and Europe.
And yet, London is the one city on earth which makes me hate the idea staying in hotels, let alone living in them. For a start, the economics are ridiculous. A cursory glance on Hotels.com shows me that the cheapest,the cheapest, central London, four star or above, hotel room available tonight is $531. By contrast, for just $30 more in New York, I could book a loft at Morgans. Hell, for $100 less I could comfortably book any of the current hotel-only deals on Jetsetter and still have enough left over for dinner.
Motel 6 really wanted to know what we thought of this room
We always had Motel 6 down as a wham, bam, thank you kinda place to stay. You pays your $35.99 (one person), you gets your (grubby) room key, and the next morning you high tail it outta there, hoping you left the cooties in the bed.
That’s what we did recently, anyway, at the Motel 6 in Pueblo, Colorado. Our room smelt odd, the covers were pretty grim, they tried to charge us more than they should have (they allocated us a studio rather than a room, when we’d asked for a room) and it was, all in all, not the nicest motel we’d ever been in.
The next day, we didn’t even bother handing in our key at reception. We just got the hell out (along with the local gun show folks, who’d been filling the beds the night before).
We thought no more of it until the next day, when we got an email from Motel 6, asking us to fill in a survey about our stay. Which we ignored.
Then, five days later, we got another email. This time it said, plaintively:
We noticed that you did not have time to complete the survey. We are concerned that you may not have responded because we have somehow failed to live up to your expectations. At Accor Hotels, we are committed to providing a superior guest experience to each and every one of our customers. Please take a few minutes to tell us how well we met your expectations.