Lately, I’ve been reading so many complaints about service in hotels and on airplanes that I’m burned out on the rants, warranted though they may be. I thought I’d share my favorite experiences instead.
The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
Last year after my husband returned from a deployment, he surprised me with a night at the Ritz-Carlton to celebrate the anniversary that we’d missed a month earlier. We had just bought a house (oh, the joy of doing that on my own with power of attorney!), so he had to assure me that he got a good rate. Good rate indeed! They were offering a military discount of only $125 a night. I was thrilled to know that such a well-known luxury brand supports the troops. I also expected a room facing a brick wall.
My husband gave his name at reception – his name, not my writer name – and before ever looking at a computer or list, three employees said, “Happy Anniversary!” It was evident that they had memorized the names of any and all guests celebrating special occasions, even the ones on the $125-a-night military special. I was impressed already.
Then, we went up to our room. Unbeknownst to us, we had been upgraded to a one-bedroom suite with views of the historic courthouse and Center City. On the living room table was an anniversary card and a box of hand-made gourmet chocolates.
It’s one thing to get special treatment when you’re a travel writer on assignment (and honestly, sometimes it can feel so insincere), but it’s more than impressive – it’s heartwarming – when a hotel goes above and beyond to create a special stay for one-time guests on a deeply, deeply discounted rate.
In fact, maybe some hotels really do deserve that dubious sixth star.
OTHER NOTABLE STAYS
I wasn’t surprised to find incredible service aboard the Crystal Serenity, after all the staff-to-guest ratio was almost one to one. But I was blown away with how personal and genuine the experience was. It wasn’t the snooty service you might expect at a style hotel, nor was it the ingratiating “Yes master” service of some luxury resorts. From the housekeepers to the servers to the musicians, the people on Crystal made me and my mom feel like welcome guests in their home.
The service was so outstanding that each time Simon, my personal butler, came to my room to see if I needed anything, I had to say no. Believe me, I spent time each day trying to think of things to do in order to spare his feelings. The only problem? He had already taken care of anything I could imagine. Read the whole story.
Sea Island, Georgia
It was also no surprise to get the star treatment at the Cloister on Sea Island. Privately owned and gated, it’s one of the most exclusive enclaves in the South. And to top it off, I was on assignment for Coast magazine. But you know who didn’t know that? The groundskeepers. And yet, when I was about to check out, they were there to help. I pulled my rental car (of the budget compact variety) around to my suite and rolled my bag to the curb. The second I popped that trunk, a gardener stopped his golf cart, jogged over and lifted my bags before closing the trunk and opening my door. Genuine Southern hospitality at its finest. Read the whole story.
Where have you experienced the best service?