It takes a lot of work to perfect the ART of Hospitality. Lately I have noticed we are getting more and more particular about what our expectations are for great service. This past year we have traveled more than ever and we have stayed in a large number of hotels.
Because we travel so much, we have the ability to really observe and compare hospitality at various properties. Our services for our own clients are highly customized and as such, we get all sorts of crazy requests. I am not one to take no for an answer. I will approach a challenge from as many angles as possible to get to yes. I consider it my job – as my clients representative to find a way to yes. And I can say with confidence that – giving your client a flat out NO is a surefire way to lose that client – or guest.
Based on our travels as well as our own services, it appears great hospitality may be a thing of the past.
I am writing this post on my way back from Europe to our homebase in Austin, Texas. We stayed in 3 different hotels while in Europe. Two in Madrid, and one in Vigo which is on the northwest coast of Spain. Our first hotel in Madrid, The VP Plaza Espana, was lovely on it’s face – the valet and bellhop was quite cordial and hospitable. The swanky rooftop restaurant/bar was a completely other experience. Every person that worked upstairs at the rooftop bar was a reflection of how not to be hospitable. The service was slow to begin with – our first order took around 15 minutes to arrive. However, what really upset us was the fact that once we finished our first round of drinks, we were never serviced again. We had intended to get another round but for some reason our server chose to service the tables on either side of us quite attentively while our glasses remained empty for another 20 minutes. We finally had to ask someone else for the check. This same experience happened to us 3 more times – either they ignored us altogether or they barely phoned in our service. It was incredibly disappointing and truth be told, I took it very personally. I ended up looking the place up online to see their reviews and found solace in knowing my opinion was shared with a number of others.
Fast forward to our visit to Vigo. In Vigo, we stayed at the Gran Nagari Hotel.
A lovely hotel with pleasant accommodations and a pretty tasty restaurant. Yet again, the service was satisfactory on it’s surface – but we had multiple instances where they gave us a flat out no answer on questions that I believe would have been fairly easy to get some form of a yes. For example, our room had not been serviced that day and we had consumed the wine that was in our fridge. When we returned late from a day of site seeing in Portugal, we requested a glass of wine from the bar, the answer I received was ‘No, we are closed. Talk to the front desk’. When I spoke to the front desk and explained we were interested in a bottle of wine, I was told to go to the bar. When I explained that the bar was closed and our room hadn’t been turned – I asked if we could have one of the mini bar bottles. I was also told ‘No’ – with no alternative suggestion. There is a bar next door to the hotel. There are a couple of bars across the street. It would be EASY to suggest that we visit one of the bars that the front desk attendant recommends. But that was not the case and we were left to figure it out. The icing on the cake for us was the laundry service. We had been traveling for 5 days at that point and sent a number of our clothes to be laundered. When we checked out, our bill for the laundry service alone was over $200!
I do need to give these hotels some credit – their buffet breakfast was always delicious. Something that has really fallen out of favor, here in the U.S. I will truly miss the breakfast buffet – but I will continue our quest for the best hospitality service just as I continue to find ways to increase our own level of perfect service to our clients. Stay tuned for Part II, when we give the Four Seasons Orlando a visit.