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Just What is a Lifestyle Hotel?

A short detour through Southern California brought me to an independent property advertising itself as a ‘lifestyle hotel’. Not knowing the specifics of what this meant in a West Coast context, who exactly this hotel was targeting or how the property was differentiating itself to substantiate this modifier, I was curiously excited to try it out. Withholding its name so we can keep this discussion neutral, the property itself was a one-time Hyatt that had seen a recent – and what I am told was, extensive – renovation. The open concept lobby’s enormous size was augmented by its sleek, reflective tile surfaces and made only more inviting by the vibrant reddish orange hues utilized in the sparse décor. The patchwork lighting was eclectic and moody, as was the labyrinthine juxtaposition of the lobby furniture and bar area. Furthermore, a large grab-and-go outlet reminiscent of a humble, luxury-goods-oriented airport duty free …

lmaadminJust What is a Lifestyle Hotel?
Famous Entrance Sign Vineyards Napa California

Resubmit--In response to comments from reviewer have further processed image to reduce noise, sharpen focus and adjust lighting.

In Vino Veritas Part XXXVII: Returning to NorCal

NorCal, short for Northern California, produces ostensibly the best wines in North America. Ever since Chateau Montelena’s chardonnay beat out the longstanding French incumbents in a blind taste test in Paris 1976 (the lighthearted 2008 film “Bottle Shock” portrays these events), Napa Valley and Californian wines have been on an upward spiral of fame, flavor and price. Nowadays, the very mention of the word ‘Napa’ is synonymous with quality. In geo-political terms, NorCal is traditionally defined as stretching from Monterrey County north to the Oregon border. But when it comes to wine, we are primarily talking Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and to a lesser extend Mendocino and Lake Counties. (This distinguishes it from the Central Coast AVA which encompasses all vineyards from below the Bay Area to just north of Santa Barbara.) My purpose with writing about NorCal at the height of its summer is not to give a concise …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas Part XXXVII: Returning to NorCal
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In Search of Hotel Excellence: Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney

Midway through a whirlwind tour of Oceania, I find myself lodged in downtown Sydney, Australia for a couple nights to visit my wife’s family. Forgoing complimentary accommodations with the relatives, I opted for one of the city’s hotel marvels, the Four Seasons Hotel, which stands as both a pinnacle of urban luxury and an oddity within the FS brand. At 531 rooms, it far exceeds the usual 175-225 rooms one expects in a Four Seasons. And yet, the general manager, Rudolf van Dijk, assured me during our brief morning chat that the property’s size has not stopped them from delivering a flawless guest experience. Traveling the world with his family under the Four Seasons banner, Mr. van Dijk is adamant that the key to success at the luxury level always boils down to a team that is motivated, engaged and passionate, regardless of the hotel’s size. With that as lead …

lmaadminIn Search of Hotel Excellence: Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney
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Living in the Review Age

Corporate transparency, social responsibility and responding to customer reviews in real-time are but three examples of 21st century business practices that have transitioned from value-add to consumer expectation in under a decade. It’s this third instance that concerns us today as we descend into a literal ‘Review Age’ where everything under the sun can be given an online user evaluation. Moreover, when it comes to hospitality, guests will also pass judgment on you, as a hotel operator, for how well you curate your property’s online criticisms. Respond too slowly to reviewers who cite operational problems and it makes you look like you aren’t allocating the proper amount of resources to electronic monitoring or, worse, that you don’t care about guests’ needs. Don’t thank past guests for their positive support and it may earn you contempt. Respond emotionally to a negative critique and it draws suspicion as to how you act …

lmaadminLiving in the Review Age
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Ten Considerations for a 2015 Restaurant Redo

While subcontracting your F&B operations to experts is always a viable option, many operators continue to stick to their guns and keep their restaurants firmly within arm’s reach. Let’s assume that you are in such a situation and are content with your margins, your online reviews, your staff’s performance and your chef. “Ola kala!”(Everything is alright) as they say on a Greek island paradise near you. But ‘fine’ is hardly a substitute for perfect, and unless you are constantly attempting to improve your operations, you run the risk of instilling complacency and a tired brand perception. “The only constant is change,” as they also say everywhere except for in those picturesque Greek archipelagos where change isn’t necessary. With new restaurants opening daily with fresh menus and ideations sourced from across the world, your job as a manager and restaurateur is only getting harder. And part of my job is to …

lmaadminTen Considerations for a 2015 Restaurant Redo
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When Hoteliers Become Heroes

Don’t dismiss this so hastily; it could happen to you. On the unusually warm spring night at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, Security Supervisor Ruben Hernandez had just begun his shift when he received an urgent call for help. The call was for an unconscious male, not breathing and not showing a pulse. Ruben immediately removed the onsite automated external defibrillator (AED) from its box and responded to the location. Upon arrival, he and his fellow Security Officer, Danny Sandoval, began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). After numerous CPR attempts failed to revive the guest, Ruben made the decision to activate the AED and follow the steps given to him by the apparatus and from his training. After three attempts with the AED, Ruben was able to resuscitate the guest and stabilize him until the medics arrived. The guest then went into recovery at a hospital where he received a pacemaker. For …

lmaadminWhen Hoteliers Become Heroes
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Five-Star Housekeeping For Five-Star Properties

Having just completed an exhaustive Pacific hotel tour, my report to hoteliers is this: no matter what your brand or luxury status, housekeeping remains a prickly beast and a constant challenge. Seventeen nights on the road in luxury hotels and one would think that the results are all coming up like daisies. Well, I wish I could report perfection but alas this is not so! In all five properties that I surveyed, housekeeping errors topped the list. Where others see shortcomings, however, I see opportunities for growth. While my analysis certainly is not comprehensive, it is interesting to report that not one of my accommodations scored perfect in this regard, this despite being VIP-ed (I suspect) along the way. What is particularly surprising is that these properties are all purported to be in the five-star range, yet still suffered similar flaws. While the errors noted were minor, at the rack …

lmaadminFive-Star Housekeeping For Five-Star Properties
Set of drinks isolated on white. HQ studio shot. Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

In Vino Veritas Part XXXVI: Choose Your Glass Wisely

“You have chosen…wisely,” is what the immortal knight says to Indiana Jones after he drinks from the Holy Grail – an unsuspecting wooden cup hidden among a swath of poisonous chalices and jeweled goblets. I’m reminded of this scene at the climax of The Last Crusade whenever I have to make a decision as to how best to pair a chosen wine with its appropriately suitable glassware. Not that it is a blatant faux pas to mismatch wine and glass (at least not in my circle of friends), but proper etiquette should be followed wherever possible. Not only do shape and size affect aroma and flavor via a series of complex molecular interactions, but they offer a strong visual demarcation to augment the overall drinking experience. Using this diagram from Wine Folly as a companion guide, it’s readily apparent that there are quite a few more types of glasses than …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas Part XXXVI: Choose Your Glass Wisely