Wealth blog: five-star service shines through
The Financial Times eponymous weekend columnist, the media mogul cum journalist Tyler Brule has recently taken to waxing lyrical about his favourite Hong Kong hotels. This includes singing the praises of the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai. According to him, although it's outstanding, it lacks one facility - an outdoor running track.
Never mind the fact that he would probably collapse from the pollution while jogging - what a bizarre attribute to wish for in a Hong Kong hotel. What normal guest, when forking out thousands of dollars for a five-star hotel, thinks about the outdoor exercise facilities? Who wants to cart their smelly jogging kit around with them?
All of which brings me to what goes on inside the building. Journalists usually visit fancy hotels for press conferences or work lunches. This gives a distorted representation compared to that of the paying customer. We just suffer the ham sandwiches, boring biscuits and stewed tea - standard media-function fodder - it's free, so we can't complain.
So it was unusual to be on the paying client side of the fence for a change. Journalists can usually rely on a bit of fawning from gushing hotel public relations staff, but that pales in comparison to the real service these places provide for people who bring big business.
The occasion was a formal Chinese dinner for 70, marking the signing of a trade agreement in a suite of Grand Hyatt private rooms.
Nothing was too much trouble for the staff, led by event service assistant manager Eddy Tse. The first request was a folder for the document - would I like that with a ring binder or without? The signing pens were taken and tested. The lettering on the banner, when hoisted, was found to be blocked when guests stood in front of it, so staff proposed chopping six inches off the top, there and then.
Then the seating plan arrived with only 20 minutes to go. No problem. Staff raced around copying names from place settings by hand before setting up a printed table plan on a stand outside the dining room 10 minutes later.
Then there was the issue of who would be where in the group photo. Tse's team proposed name stickers on the floor to identify everyone later for photo captions. Finally, with five minutes to go, one Chinese character on the hand-painted name card for the main signing VIP was found to be wrong. No problem, yet another person dashed off and returned with a new hand-drawn card in immaculate calligraphy.
I'm sure every five-star Hong Kong hotel performs as well, but the Grand Hyatt team was flawless. The food appeared at the right time, service was impeccable and everyone went home happy.
From what I can see, everything about this hotel is already up to speed, without any help from a jogging track.