Say Goodbye to Room Service

To be or not to be in the room service

Other services have been disappearing throughout history. Or reserved for super luxury hotels such as butler service or white-glove service. So it should surprise no one that room service should disappear when this luxury is barely used by a few business travelers and guests affected by jet lag at airport hotels. 

Why wasn’t a service consisting of sending a tray with a sandwich and a soft drink to the room going to disappear? It’s expensive and no one pays for it because of the cost. In New York, you can now see some self-service windows in hallways, like the pioneering one proposed a few years ago at Hotel Casa Camper in Barcelona. The latest, parallel to the trend of pop-ups and food trucks (trucks that prepare food and serve meals in the street) is room service delivery partnering with a nearby restaurant. Its business is not reduced to the scant rooms in a hotel that may order this service at certain times.

Contrary to what people might believe, this mode of room service is not being established by lesser hotels or cutting edge or low cost niche ones. We are seeing it at Continue reading

A Six Million Dollar Cocktail

Jigger Cocktail Bar opened in Bilbao, Spain

Mixology is a great opportunity to transform your hotel bar service in new liturgies. With this tweet, I celebrated the arrival of an exceptional bartender, Diego Cabrera, to the digital “joint” of the Ruina Habitada (my Inhabited Ruin in Spain). I’ve never been in his bar, in order not to commit the sacrilege of ordering my favorite drink after wine and beer. A gin and tonic, please! But I’ve joined up with him at some Madrid balls, especially the one he encouraged me to hold more than three years ago along with other well-known bartenders to debate on the bar’s space in hotels. Rethinking the bar was the name of the gathering sponsored by the French Champagne brand Mumm. Besides Cabrera, the event was attended by Carlos Moreno, Javier Rufo, Óscar Durán, Francesco Cavagionni, DJ Johan Walt and interior designer Lorenzo Castillo. The conclusion of that group reflection could be nothing other than what was expressed again in that tweet of initiation: mixology offers hotels a spectacular opportunity to connect with their customers through their razzmatazz.

Not just any mixology, of course. Everyone invited to that debate are vastly solvent as creative bartenders. They are original in their demeanor. They are managers of their own business and actors in a show which, in times past, identified the hotel industry that was lost when real estate developers understood that a hotel’s business was selling beds. Now that these real estate moguls are through and the hotel industry is no longer looked at as a mattress plant, it is now time to start some serious recycling in the direction of the hotel experience construed as an emotion mill. We have repeated it tirelessly at our #hotel2020 seminars.

One of the most obvious resources is hotel renovation by the High Priests of the Bar. It’s the magic of creating, mixing, shaking, abracadabra, and finally, tada! Serving a cocktail. Few other shows express better than this one – the transformation of the old idea of service – serving through the new concept of a ritual and wowing patrons. Maybe the art of peeling an orange on the guéridon, in plain view, and without touching the fruit bears, the same degree of service as a sleight-of-hand trick. Maybe arranging a bouquet and having it sent to the room by a bevy of vestal virgins is the maximum expression of esthetic refinement at establishments such as the Amanresorts luxury hotel chain. Maybe closing a swimming pool without fencing it in, placing a blanket of traveler’s joy or lotus flowers on the surface of the water to suggest a scene from a Polovtsian Dance.

But what is certain is that the orchestration of color, light, sound, vapors, flavors and textures of a cocktail powerfully draw our attention. Yes, even the hard-hearted who order a ginless gin and tonic. Leo Robitschek’s theater at the NoMad in New York confirms this. There is no bartender with his skill in the entire city. You have to watch him act at The Library, the sotto luce bar at this fashionable hotel. Without verging on circus antics, his skill in wielding the shaker attracts not only James Bond fans (“shaken, not stirred”), but also the general public as if Fura dels Baus acted in a sidewalk display window. Such is his success in handling the scene that the bar will be extended this summer to an adjacent establishment, only 40 square meters, that the NoMad’s owners were forced to purchase for the meager price of… six million dollars!

Because as Diego Cabrera, Carlos Moreno, Leo Robitschek and company well know, a show cocktail at a fashionable hotel is priceless.

Fernando Gallardo |

Is Airbnb the next Booking?

Sharing hands for a sharing economy

At first, I thought that Airbnb was going to occupy a lodging niche that nobody wanted to, or could, digitally manage, given the dispersion of supply and the variety of behaviors attributed to homeowners interested in putting their homes up for rent by periods. But after a deep reflection on the strategic focus of the company, different view exchanges among tourism agents in New York (home of its founder, Brian Chesky), and the concerned monitoring of American hotel strategist Chip Conley, with whom I have exchanged some epistolary views on the subject, I confess that my current impression is radically different from the original. Airbnb wants to enter not only in the hotel market but in the entire value chain of the tourism business. And it wants to enter to transform the world of travel through the generation that will manage it in the coming decades: the so-called millennials. Continue reading