Ritz-Carlton Demonstrates Customer Service Excellence With Missing Stuffed Animal

I think I must be hormonal, because this story just made me tear up. The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida, is getting some social buzz this week because of the video posted above, which details their quest to go above and beyond for exceptional customer service.

The story is simple: a family went on vacation and left behind their son’s beloved stuffed animal, Joshie. Riley, the family’s child was notably upset at the loss of his favorite toy giraffe. Luckily, the Ritz-Carlton notified the family that the giraffe had been found safely in the laundry and would be returned as soon as possible.

But here’s where the magic happened: dad Chris Hurn, seen in the video above, asked if the hotel would help substantiate a little white lie that he’d told his son, namely that Joshie was taking a few extra days of vacation and that he hadn’t been forgotten.

What arrived? In addition to Ritz-Carlton swag, Joshie came home with a storybook binder detailing his trip, including photos at the spa, the pool, with the resort’s parrot and even in the loss prevention office (where he got an honorary security badge).

The work surrounding the story was substantial, and from what we’ve seen of Ritz-Carlton hotels, isn’t out of the ordinary – one time we entered the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown to find a photo of us and our dog by the bedside table.

But it’s certainly a heartwarming tale, and one we particularly love because it wasn’t part of a PR stunt or media blitz. It’s simply a great example of a luxury brand proving why people would want to pay extra to stay in a hotel of this class.

Kudos, Ritz-Carlton.

Ritz-Carlton Launches iPhone App

Ritz-Carlton iphone appAfter a long wait, Ritz-Carlton is launching their first mobile app today. This free app will allow travelers to travelers to book and search online, but will also offer a series of unique tips and QR code experience tours that let them experience properties before they even arrive.

Some of our favorite functionalities of the new app include the “Presidential Tips” section, a specially-curated selection of tips from Herve Humler, company president and COO.

To learn Presidential Tips, guests use the app to scan a QR code at the time of check-in.

The code-based experience tours also add something new to the mix, with 20 hotels starring in the pilot program. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, where guests can participate in a Cultural Art tour led by QR codes that will allow them to learn more about the hotel’s art collection. At The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, where young guests will be able to enjoy a digital scavenger hunt, led exclusively by QR codes and clues at each stop.

GPS technology also allows the application to recognize when a guest has arrived at a Ritz-Carlton and can provide location specific advice, information and exclusive offers. The app also integrates the hotel’s concierge recommendations from Four Square, updated weekly, as well as allow access to hotel and resort activity calendars so that guests can always know what’s going on at area properties via “Push” notifications.

The free app is available on both Apple and Android platforms.

Once Upon a Time in the Wee Small Hours of Ireland

Agusti Curto Calbet, the Night Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, in County Wicklow, Ireland, arrived to work for his midnight shift on a cold February evening. Ordinarily, during his scheduled time at the five-star luxury hotel, a guest might phone in for a wake-up reminder, the arrangement of an early morning taxi, or perhaps a bottle of champagne for a romantic interlude. But, as the young Spaniard was about to discover, this fated night was about to become anything but ordinary.

A woman staying in one of the Mountain View Suites with her husband rang the Reception desk after 2:00 a.m. in a most agitated state.

“I hate to bother you at this late hour, but a very valuable item of mine has disappeared from my room!”

“I’m so sorry to hear that Madame,” he replied. “What does it look like?”

Whatever it is, he thought, it surely must be priceless.

“It’s a small, white Teddy Bear,” she explained in between sobs. “One of its button-eyes is slightly broken and…and…it’s irreplaceable! I’ve carried it with me for over 35 years!”

As her voice faded into low sniffles, the 30-year-old Night Manager kept the lady calm and assured her all would be well.

“Where did you see it last?” he asked.

“It was on the bed. Maybe it went astray when the room was cleaned today?”

Agusti told her that the stuffed animal couldn’t have gone far and that every effort would be made to retrieve it.
He first phoned Loss Prevention to see if a toy matching its description had been turned in to the Lost & Found. No such luck. Glancing at the clock, then at the stack of paperwork on his desk, he could have easily passed the call onto the morning staff by writing a note describing the events, but instead, intrigued by the guest’s desperate longing to find her keepsake, he decided, “No. I’m going to do this myself.”

He summoned the Housekeeping night team on duty to meet him in the Laundry Room. Five minutes later, Rafal Mlynarski, Andrzej Koziol, and Cassio Schuler were soon listening to Agusti re-enact the woman’s plea.

The trio was eager to help find the misplaced bear, but suddenly the reality of sorting through mountains of soiled linens made their eyes widen at the sight of the ten or eleven trolleys before them. Each cart overflowed with tightly wrapped bed sheets and soggy, wet towels. This quest took on the classic “finding a needle in a haystack” scenario, only the lost pin in question had paws, and these bales weighed much more than straw. The unpleasant stench prompted Cassio’s much-needed encouragement, “Don’t worry, guys! This is not a ‘dirty’ job. We have to go for it!”

They all agreed, then split into two groups with each duo dumping out the purple bags in unison. Towel by towel, sheet by sheet, they toiled together in the basement. As the heaping 20 kilos of laundry slowly dwindled, it was Agusti who finally discovered the Teddy Bear entwined in the folds of a king sheet.

“Look!” he shouted. “Here it is!”

An eruption of cheers and hoots filled the Laundry Room as though their favorite team had just won the World Cup. Rafal decided to tidy up their fuzzy friend and lightly sprayed its worn fleece with a bit of air freshener.

“Ah, that’s better,” he said, handing it back to his leader.

Even though dawn soon approached, Agusti somehow knew the woman would not mind his early morning delivery. But before returning the precious bundle, he crept down to the culinary department and placed five homemade wrapped cookies inside a green hotel gift sack complete with the wandering bear peering out over the top.

As the woman opened the door in her bathrobe, she found the almost seven-foot-tall Agusti on the other side holding the bag, his dark brown eyes twinkling back at her, with a smile as big as his heart.

“Look who we found in the kitchen looking for cookies!” he regaled, selflessly omitting the painstaking search details.

“Oh! I thought he was gone for good!” she cried out. “Oh, thank you! Thank you!”

Agusti stood motionless as she tenderly removed the one-eyed treasure and clutched it to her chest, her expression showing reverent gratitude.

“You see, this bear once belonged to my little boy,” she confided softly. She explained how she and her husband, now in their 60s, take it with them wherever they go.

The lady looked up at Agusti and whispered, “He’s now an angel in Heaven.”

Agusti knew his decision to “own” this guest’s problem was meant to be, for his beloved father had passed away before he was even born. His mother had raised him and two older brothers on her own in Barcelona.

As he bid the woman good-night, he asked if he could assist her with anything else.

“I don’t think there’s anything you could do better,” she said sweetly. “It’s as if you’ve given me back my son.”

He was all too familiar with the power of a mother’s love and right there, in the wee small hours of the morning, let go of his tears.

Jill Paris is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her essays have been featured in The Best Travel Writing 2009, The Saturday Evening Post, Travel Africa, Thought Catalog and other publications. She has an M.A. in Humanities and a Master of Professional Writing degree from USC. She travels for the inexplicable human connection.

[Flickr image via neal]

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island helps guests up their sodium intake in a unique way

hotel And you thought too much salt was bad for you? Well, it actually is, but The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island definitely makes eating salt interesting. Their onsite restaurant, Salt, features 45 unique salt blends to give guests an enhanced dining experience.

The venue is so obsessed with perfecting the art of salt, they actually have a Salt Sommelier on staff. Salt expert Sasa Jaramaz works with Chef Rick Laughlin to pair different salts with particular courses. Textures, flavors, and aromas are all taken into consideration during the pairing process. For example, you can enjoy fresh fish and Adriatic Citrus Salt, which contains peels of Meyer lemons, oranges and grapefruits. These peels are roasted overnight, cooled and finely chopped into the salt.

Furthermore, to help get guests involved, Jaramaz presents select varieties to set on the table each night, and visits patrons to explain how the salts enhance the meal. Moreover, daily salt tastings are held in the brand new Salt Shop.

Says Laughlin, “The secret to creating contemporary American cuisine is taking a recipe of an item people are familiar with and reinventing it for a totally new experience. That’s my passion.”

Luxury Travel: the All Caviar package at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

luxury travel ritz-carlton central park caviar packageThe Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park is going over the top with its new All Caviar Package. Guests who love luxury travel can live large with this one night experience.

After being met on arrival with a caviar martini (a martini accented with an exclusive Petrossian “caviar cube”), guests will be whisked to their rooms overlooking Central Park.

That afternoon, guests will enjoy a gourmet caviar tasting at Petrossian, led by one of the French caviar legend’s knowledgeable teams.

The next morning, the package includes a full American breakfast, in-room or in the hotel’s Star Lounge, plus a 60-minute Caviar Skin Crème Massage at La Prairie at The Ritz-Carlton Spa. The package ends with a three-course caviar-paired meal at Petrossian.

The package includes a late checkout and starts at $1,985. Park View rooms are standard with the package, but upgrades are available for an additional cost.