Can 5 Star Hotels Match Service Levels in Private Villas?
Article by: Leigh Pulford
Written: 18th December 2014
Recently I was down in Bali to celebrate my 30th birthday, and whilst there I also made the most of checking out some new villas, to see if the service and facilities were up to scratch for our clients. I’m always on the lookout for new villas or villas that provide top end service and it just happened that I witnessed some of the best service I have seen for a long time. This further justified my long time belief that 5 star hotels are going to continue to struggle to keep up with the more personalized and custom service provided by private villas.
So here is what transpired:
After a long night of wining and dining, our group was back at the long table enjoying our breakfast before some of our friends, a couple from Australia, headed home. As is customary, we said goodbye, made plans for our next trip to Bali and the driver took them out to the airport. About an hour later, by this time we were already lounging by the pool, we received a call from our relatively calm friend, who was at the airport with the wrong passport. It turned out that by complete accident the wrong passport had been handed back to two of our friends after check in. Now… there were 3 people by the same name in our villa and I’ve definitely seen more bizarre things happen, but at this point you may ask, shouldn’t the villas staff have checked the passports prior to handing them back? This is a good point, however it was the actions that followed the acceptance of their mistake that turned the situation around and demonstrated the level of service they really can provide.
We explained what had happened to the villa manager straight away and very calmly, he asked us to find the correct passport and for the phone number of our friend who was still waiting to check in for her flight at the airport. Without hesitation he then jumped on his motorbike and headed to the airport. About 30 minutes later we received a call from him saying that he had found her, she had checked in and was boarding her flight with time to spare. Problem solved!
There are some great 5 start hotels out there with top notch service and concierges, however I can’t help but feeling if this situation had happened in a hotel, that the outcome may have been very different. After receiving the call from the airport to the front desk, surely management approval would have been required, a hotel car would have been used and given the traffic in Bali and tight security at the airport, after parking it would have been difficult for the passports to be exchanged in time.
Of course many boutique hotels do a great job with customer service and the well known 5 star brands such as the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt etc, all pride themselves on being able to handle any request or situation that may arise. However given the size of these hotels and despite their huge teams of trained and dedicated staff, sometimes having a good villa manager with complete authority over the team and villa, enables the true execution of the long standing marketing tag line, that ‘no request is too much’.
Seeing this level of seamless service just further strengthened my opinion that if you are looking for a personalized experience where you need not worry about putting in requests for what you and your group are looking for, then a private villa is by far the best way to go.