The Doorman Sets The Tone For A Hotel Stay

I’m a pretty independent traveler, and I’m also somewhat introverted. So my ideal hotel stay involves interacting with as few humans as possible… in theory. Conventional hotel industry wisdom suggests that the more hotel employees a guest interacts with, the higher their level of satisfaction will be.

While I’m not entirely sure that’s true, I think I’ve come to realize the single biggest weapon a hotel can have — a good doorman.

If someone told me a couple of months ago that a good doorman really sets the tone for a hotel stay, I would’ve laughed at them. But that’s just because I hadn’t experienced a truly great doorman until then.

What am I talking about? Well, as some of you may recall I stayed at the Park Hyatt New York on opening night last month, and it’s an astonishingly nice hotel. But what stuck with me more than anything was the doorman, Christopher. As I explained at the time:

He was just the friendliest, awesomest, most excited person I’ve come across in a long time. And perhaps what impressed me most was when I was leaving the hotel in the evening, he stopped me and asked if he could fix my collar. As I explained in my post a few days back about how hospitality happens at the margins, that stayed with me more than anything else. Because there’s no training manual or course in the world that tells you to stop someone and fix their collar. That’s something that happens because of a true passion for being hospitable and going above and beyond (and in case anyone happens to stay here and wants to say hi to Christopher, he’s all the way on the right in this picture, so tell him I said hi and that’s he’s awesome).

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Park Hyatt New York entrance

Now I just wrapped up a stay at the Park Hyatt Chicago, which is another awesome hotel (though a completely different style than the Park Hyatt New York).

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Park Hyatt Chicago Water Tower View King Room

My stay was awesome and the service was impeccable, but what stuck with me more than anything was the doorman, Antonio. No, he didn’t stop me to fix my collar, but he was the first person that greeted me and the last person to say goodbye to me, and the friendliness and sincerity with which he did that made my stay.

Hotels: the first point of contact a guest has isn’t with the front desk, but rather with the doorman. I’d argue that a good doorman can leave a more lasting impression than any other employee in a hotel. Make it count. 99% of the time they’re unmemorable, but when they’re good, they’re really good.

Am I off base? Does anyone else think a good doorman sets the tone for a hotel stay?

Comments

  1. I think that it depends when you say that as an introvert you prefer to interact with as few humans as possible. When you have pleasure interacting with people or when the experience is as seamless as possible, you probably enjoy it much more than an outgoing person. In all your reviews, it seems to me that you’d rather have an average hard product and a top soft product than the opposite.

  2. You’re absolutley right – I stayed at the Westin Sydney recently where the doorman was focussed on everything but the guests arriving and I couldn’t get it out of head how bad that appeared. On the other end of the scale, every stay at the Peninsula Bangkok without fail we have been very pleasantly greeted by not just one but a team of doormen! Every stay in that hotel has been amazing 🙂

  3. Park Hyatt Vendome doorman is not too shabby but what really sets the tone there is to walk past the great concierge team that is strategically placed…….they do such a great job it is always a feel good moment to enter to their greeting………..

  4. You CAN be right when the doorman is the star but the rest of the hotel has to be a fine supporting cast. If not, the difference can be jarring. But like you, I do remember the special ones that were part of a special stay. Can’t wait to see Edwin again the St Regis Bahia Beach when we return this winter. OTOH, I never felt anything approaching warmth at the SR in NYC – from anyone. Did I get upgraded into a ridiculously magnificent Madison Suite. Yup. Was I grateful? Yes to that to. But the lack of interaction and warmth was striking and I remember that just as much.

  5. I absolutely agree with this post and comments. My two most striking recent experiences–at opposite ends of the spectrum–were the fabulous doorman at the Churchill (Hyatt) in London. Just perfect. Friendly and helpful, but not cloying. Contrast with the Philadelphia Ritz Carlton, where over the course of 3 days, the damn doorman couldn’t be troubled to open the door once. He didn’t even help me with my luggage as I dragged it (with obvious difficulty) up the stairs to the door! Usually, he was chatting with other employees or drivers, and was often standing inside the hotel (and the weather was fine). Very, very Not Ritz, imo.

  6. One of the best hotel stays I ever had was at the Conrad Macao. There wasn’t a doorman per se because the hotel is attached to a mall, but there was a guy at the bottom of the hotel elevators. Every time I left the elevator, he wished me a nice day, asked me where I was going and if he could help with anything – and if the place I wanted to go was inside the mall he’d actually walk me over there. This may sound over the top and annoying (especially if you’re as introverted as Ben and myself), but the way he did it was just perfect and really made me feel like a VIP. He refused to take a tip, too!

    My room was great too, but this guy as well as the guest services director (who sent a hand-written card to my room with some information for my departure, and also personally said goodbye when I checked out) are the real reason why I will always have fond memories of this hotel.

  7. Lucky, if you had to choose between one night stay in either PH Chicago, PH Seoul, PH Shangai or PH Abu Dhabi (all with FHR or Visa perks), what would be your choice?
    I’ve one night stays planned in each city and I would like to find what is the fuss about Park Hyatt, but they are all expensive (around U$ 400+ each) and I will have to select one. Based on your reviews, it seems that Shangai would be the better choice, followed by Seoul.

  8. @ Carlos — They’re all great properties, but yes, I would say Shanghai followed by Seoul in terms of hotel quality. Keep in mind the PH Seoul is only a Category 4 property, so is quite reasonably priced on points.

  9. I just wanted to thank you all for appreciating the doorman position. I recently was promoted to doorman from valet after 5 weeks and love every second of helping guests. If you are ever in Atlanta, come see me at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead. Cheers.

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