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]

Quirky hotel amenity: Pirate tuck-ins for children at Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

ritz-carlton, amelia islandWhat better way for a child to end a day full of swimming and sea than to be tucked-in by a pirate? At the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, in Florida not only does Pirate Luis Aury provide a bedtime story, but Princess Amelia and a blue and gold macaw make an appearance, as well. Children will also be given cookies and milk as well as a treasure chest full of loot. The tuck-ins can be scheduled in between 7PM and 10PM and cost $45 per child.

Going to be staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, during the holiday season? Parents can opt for a complimentary Santa tuck-in instead. Not only will children get to be read a bedtime story by good old Saint Nick himself, they will also be given a holiday gift.

The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh opens, featuring bowling alley and cigar bar


ritz-carlton riyadh


The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. continues to expand into the Middle East market with their first hotel in Saudi Arabia, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. The 493 room hotel in the Diplomatic Quarter is adjacent to the King Abdul Aziz Convention Centre.

Of course, the hotel has to be appropriately palatial – it includes 52 acres of landscaped gardens, a massive fountain, and a one kilometer driveway.

Originally envisioned as a royal guest palace for visiting dignitaries and heads of state, the hotel’s architecture is modeled on traditional palaces and elegant Arabian residences. Native palms, 600-year old olive trees from Lebanon, and water fountains abound.

“This majestic hotel’s prime location in the literal heart of the Arabian Peninsula offers many significant advantages to visiting guests and dignitaries,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. “We are extremely proud that The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh represents our first hotel into the Kingdom. We have been aggressively seeking the right first location in Saudi Arabia for a number of years, and believe there could be no better place for a Ritz-Carlton than in this” added Humler.

The interior of the hotel is also imbued with a sense of place – guestrooms and suites use the vibrant colors and ethnic textures of the region. Highlights include not just one, but 49 exquisitely appointed two-bedroom Royal Suites, each generously measuring 4,574 square feet and 50 one-bedroom, opulent Executive Suites at 1,022 square feet. Wow.

The hotel also features 62,000 square feet of meeting space, an Aubergine restaurant, a buffet-style restaurant serving Lebanese favorites, Asian and Italian restaurants, a tea lounge and a cigar lounge that will be home to one of the widest selection of Cuban cigars in Saudi Arabia. The hotel also features an indoor six-lane bowling alley, indoor swimming pool and men’s health club with three treatment rooms. Sorry ladies, you’re out of luck here- there isn’t a women’s health club or spa. See more pictures, below:
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*A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the hotel has an on-site ICU. This information has since been removed.

Ritz-Carlton Dubai adds shisha sommelier to staff

ritz carlton financial center Interested in smoking some hookah on your trip but nervous about looking like a novice? The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Finance Center now has an expert on hand to not only show you how to properly smoke flavored tobacco, but also how to pair shisha flavors with food, drinks, and personal preferences.

The Shisha Sommelier position, which is part of the hotel’s Shisha Terrace, is held by Sadek Zeineddine, a Lebanese national, who has experience working in the food and beverage industry in various regions including Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

What’s really unique about this service is that guests can have special blends of shisha created just for them which will be saved and provided for future visits.

Interested in staying at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai? Nightly rates at the hotel begin at $258.