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Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)
There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.
Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.
I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.
We’ve come a long way from hotel staff wearing boxy, nondescript uniforms (hell, at some hotels you get to wear Lacroix Couture), but QT Sydney is taking things yet another step further: not only does staff have its stylish uniforms (by costume designer Janet Hine), an in-house stylist is on hand to get the look just so before starting work.
The result is – not surprisingly – some very well put together staff, like the blue-shirted Porters and red-wigged Directors of Chaos at the hotel’s entrance. Their job is getting you out of the hustle of Market Street, into the ornate downstairs gallery (the hotel combines the former Gowings Department Store and State Theatre), and up one floor to reception.
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We've all had horror stories when it comes to staying in a hotel, especially if we just happened to forget something in the room. While some might think that their article is lost forever, that's not always the case. Here's a story in great customer service by a hotel, restoring our faith in not only hotel staff far and wide, but humankind on a whole. Prepare to have your heart warmed.
The whole situation went down when the Hurn family decided to spend their vacation at Florida's Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Upon returning home after a few days soaking up the sun, living in luxury and scoring some rest and relaxation, their 8-year old son realized he had left his stuffed toy giraffe, Joshie, back at the resort.
Like any good father would do to buy some time, Chris Hurn told his son that the toy needed some "extra vacation time and would be home soon". He then called the hotel with the hopes that Joshie was sitting in a lost-and-found box somewhere in the backroom. To much surprise, Ritz-Carlton's staff informed him that Joshie was safe and sound and offered to send the plush animal home free of charge.
As the preview spot for the new CW show, The Catalina, tells us: 'If you think the guests like to party, wait til you meet the staff.' Thanks to their recent cavorting on South Beach captured in The Daily Mail, we have our opportunity.
The article doesn't tell us much about the cast... er, hotel staff of the Catalina, but if a picture says a thousand words, this piece is a thesis worthy of The New Yorker. They're young, they're thin and buff... they have a bit of the Jersey Shore about them, they work with hangovers--what else do we need to know?
Hotel notepads: we're big fans. Sometimes we even take them. But last week we encountered something new on the notepad by our hotel bed--a note from our housekeeper. And it was sweet, to boot!
This is the note we found when we returned to our room late in the day after our first night at the Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now, there's lots to love here, so let's break it down...
She's not a hotel version of Q or an astronomy wizard, but Danielle Griffin of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess would definitely rate as a hotel mixmaster: She's the hotel's official Tequila Goddess, which means she's in charge of the hotel's 130 or so varieties of Mexican hooch.
What's it take to be the baroness of booze? More than just mixing up margs:
She is now one of seven in the world to earn an individual diploma from Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council (the only institution to verify and certify the compliance of Tequila with the Mexican Official Standard). This “Award T” accreditation, similar to a sommelier, enables her to provide guests and fellow La Hacienda staff with more in-depth knowledge of this special spirit.
Danielle is part of chef Richard Sandoval's reboot of La Hacienda restaurant in the hotel, where Tuesdays offer 50 percent off almost every label of tequila in the house. The better to try them all, we say.
Willie Jefferson, who will celebrate his 40th anniversary as a housekeeper at the Fontainebleau hotel this November.
Have you tipped your hotel housekeeping staff lately? If you've been a bit stingy in this department, this is the week to atone--it's International Housekeepers Week! Apparently, IHW has been has been celebrated around the world since 1981. Even though it's more of an industry event than one affecting guests, let's not forget that housekeeping is what keeps our favorite hotels ticking.
With a total of 1504 guestrooms, Miami's Fontainebleau would be a giant mess--literally--without its housekeepers, so it's one hotel we know of getting behind the IHW cause.
Looking a little glum there mate. Is it the weather or the bowler hat?
We've long been keeping tabs on the cool and uncool Hotel Uniforms out there so we were delighted to see that HotelChatter Flickr pool member Stuart Lee dropped in this lovely shot of the doorman at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf.
He's not looking that happy is he? Well, perhaps these stories of doormen turned successful actors should cheer him up. At least, until he gets off of work and can take off the bowler hat. All else looks good though. He is fit!
Should you want your door opened by men in bowler hats, rates at this east end hotel start at 190GBP for a standard room with daily breakfast.
The Apprentice notwithstanding, we're totally down with hospitality intern programs. If you start early and learn on the job you're much better placed to succeed in your hotel-world career for years to come. So we were heartened to hear about the latest internship program at New York's Pod Hotel. There, managing director David Bernstein has introduced a training program for young adults with autism.
Five interns aged 18–21 will work alongside the hotel's housekeeping staff in the program that kicked off in March. The training is part of the bigger picture at the Association for the Help of Retarded Children (AHRC), which teaches young autistic people life skills and helps them to develop responsibility and establish their independence.
A hotel chain having a global music director seems peculiar, but it shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since the trendy W also employs a fashion director. As the W's first global music director, L'Acqua fosters partnerships with labels, curates the company's compilation CDs, and gets artists to perform in DJ series and at special events.
The Algodon Mansion Hotel thinks so!
The hotel sent us some snaps of the pre-opening party they hosted for Buenos Aires architect/interior designer/socialite Javier Iturrioz (wow, he certainly has a lot of jobs!) Amongst the snaps of BA socialites and modelizers partying it up at the hotel, we came across this shot of the staff. And we likey. But we thinks they might need a few more good men!
If you're headed to BA soon, you can meet the staff in-person when the hotel opens which should be any day now. And if you've got socialite money, splurge on one of the rooms which are actually suites. Those start at around $775 a night and come with your own personal butler.
Random Argentinian male socialite shots below.
If you’re staying at a hotel in New York City and notice a teenager lurking outside your door when your room service arrives, don’t worry. They’re not stalking the halls for a Jonas Brother, just learning the ropes of the hotel biz.
The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park is just one of around 20 properties in the city opening their doors—and behind-the-scenes areas—to high-school kids interested in learning more about hospitality.