This Is Hospitality: St. Regis Mauritius Edition

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my nearly two years of living in hotels, it’s that the little touches are what determine my overall perception of stays.

A couple of years back I wrote a blog post entitled “Hospitality Happens At The Margins,” in which I explained that a large part of my perception of airline and hotel experiences is derived from very minor interactions which resonate with me.

I wrote that post after a Starwood SVP appeared on Bloomberg to explain that 2% of their guests generate 30% of their profits. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I could come up with a similar 2%/30% breakdown — 30% of my perception and memory of a brand is derived from 2% of my experiences.

Sure, it’s important that a hotel is beautiful and has great amenities, but nowadays that’s not necessarily enough to make a hotel stay memorable. It’s all the little touches which make stays truly special.

St-Regis-Mauritius-Pool
St. Regis Mauritius pool

Last September Mike wrote about his stay at the Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle, in a post entitled “Little Touches Make The Hotel Experience.”

It’s absolutely true, and I wanted to share my own recent experience being wowed at the St. Regis Mauritius. Because I truly believe the people who go above and beyond in the hospitality industry deserve to be recognized.

St-Regis-Mauritius
St. Regis Mauritius beach

I had a quick one night stay at the St. Regis Mauritius over the weekend (more on that later). I was tired when I arrived so went straight to bed. The following morning I had breakfast, and about an hour after breakfast I decided I really wanted to try the hotel’s signature bloody mary, as I was checking out soon.

For those of you not aware, every St. Regis has their own signature bloody mary. That’s because the bloody mary was founded at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis New York. It’s funny because I’d never otherwise drink a bloody mary (it’s not my favorite drink), but I make a point of having one with every St. Regis stay, because I love seeing each hotel’s interpretation of the drink.

The bar at the St. Regis is located near the breakfast restaurant, and there was a bartender setting up, even though it was early. I asked if there was any chance I could get a bloody mary, and he invited me to have a seat. So I did.

St-Regis-Mauritius-3

Moments later the bar manager, Ravissen, came by to introduce himself and to confirm I wanted a bloody mary. I said “yes, I realize it’s early, but I love trying the bloody marys at all the different St. Regis properties around the world.” He smiled and said “that’s a good reason.”

He brought out the bloody mary moments later, and then explained that if I was around later I could visit the bar and even make my own. Cool — that’s an invitation I’ve never before had at a St. Regis.

After I drank about half of it he came by to ask what I thought of the bloody mary. It really was fantastic, easily one of my favorites, and I shared that with him, which he seemed genuinely delighted by.

St-Regis-Mauritius-Bloody-Mary
St. Regis Mauritius bloody mary

He returned a couple of minutes later with a book containing all the St. Regis bloody mary recipes. “It’s a gift from us so you can see the recipes from around the world and even make your own.” I thought that was super sweet (and unnecessary).

St-Regis-Bloody-Mary
St. Regis Bloody Mary book

Ravissen disappeared to do some work, and about five minutes later I walked up to the bar and asked for the check. The bartender said “it’s compliments of the bar manager, Ravissen.”

It’s tough to explain, but I was so impressed by the interaction. Everyone at the St. Regis Mauritius was extremely friendly, but Ravissen really went above and beyond. It’s not just about being friendly, and it’s certainly not about the fact that my drink was comped.

Rather it’s that he recognized my enthusiasm for the St. Regis bloody mary, showed genuine interest in it, and took it in his own hands to make my stay special. True hospitality occurs when you don’t feel like a transaction, but rather like someone’s genuine guest.

So while I loved Mauritius (and I’ll be writing more about it later) and thought the St. Regis was fantastic, Ravissen is the single aspect of the hotel I’ll remember most.

Kudos to all the people in the hospitality industry who go above and beyond to create memorable experiences.

Anyone else as wowed by the little things as I am?

Comments

  1. Can’t wait to be at this property this coming September! Lucky, will you do a trip report on this property? We would love to see more pictures of the property.

  2. I agree completely, and I have a small test to see if a hotel is going to be good at those little details. When I’m arriving overseas after a long overnight flight, I’m usually tired and disoriented. If it’s some place I’m unfamiliar with then I will have my hotel send a car to pick me up from the airport rather than deal with cabs, even though it’s MUCH more expensive. I can tell a hotel is good with the details when I pull up in their car, they open the door, and greet me by name. It seems like such a simple thing, they sent the car afterall, but you’d be surprised at how few can manage it.

    When we went to India last year we arrived in Mumbai at midnight at were staying at the legendary Taj Palace, one of the best hotels in the world. I had them send a car for me and it was great. By the time we pulled up to the hotel it was nearly 2am and we were exhausted from the trip. They opened the door and greeted us by name and then said “No need to check in, we have you already taken care of, I’ll escort you up to your room to get you settled, I’m sure you’re eager to get to sleep, your luggage will be right up.” I was blown away by how on point they got it. It’s so simple to do and they nailed it.

  3. I’ll share the opposite story, from the St. Regis in Singapore.

    I was leaving after a four day stay on a super early DL flight to NRT, and then back to JFK. I asked to use one of the hotel cars, and if memory serves, I asked to leave at 4 am. The concierge made all the arrangements, and I went to bed excited to ride in the hotel’s Bentley.

    Next morning, super tired, I go downstairs to check out but I couldn’t, because they were running an update on the hotel’s computer system. The clerk told me they always do it between 3-4 am because no one ever checks out that early. Really? Because a lot of flights leave SIN that early for onward connections.

    Fine – emailing me the bill isn’t a big deal. Except they never did.

    I went outside to get into the car – no Bentleys in sight. Actually, no cars or cabs at all. The gentleman out front had no record of the car reservation and it took him 10 minutes to get me a cab.

    Is any of that super serious? Nope. Did I miss my flight? Of course not.

    But would you expect better when you’re paying St. Regis prices? Sure would.

  4. While at the Conrad Rangali for 10 days I got to know several new staff members. Early in the stay I found a couple of them (Gasim and Ali) love soccer and we raved about this during happy hour. At the end of the conversation I was openly invited to play with them and the rest of the staff on the staff’s separate private island. When I arrived to play soccer with them, I was introduced to several of the staff (All of which staff working in various parts of the property). They were all so welcoming and nice to me and I now feel that several staff members at the Conrad are now like family to us. I was shocked when I realized how well the staff are treated and how nice their facilities are. I believe this has an effect on how well guests are treated. Every time we say any of the 10-12 new friends we made around the resort, we would be addressed by name and asked how our stay was going?, how we were spending our time?, or was there anything they could do for us to make our stay more memorable? Seeing their smiles around the islands and playing soccer with the local staff was memorable enough for us.

  5. Wow I’m very happy you’re beginning to venture further into Africa, despite Mauritius being an island off the coast of the continent. Baby steps! I’m hopeful you’ll start reviewing some hotels in sub Saharan Africa. (Ford, please convince him!)

    I love your blog but feel you’re leaving an entire continent out of your reviews which many of your blog readers would find useful. I’m sure we’d all love some reviews of hotels in Cape Town or Johannesburg or Angola, Namibia, etc.

    In any case, great review and looking forward to learning about this st Regis in your subsequent full review.

  6. I really enjoyed this post. I think it’s because these little touches usually cost nothing (or next to nothing) but require someone to one or two steps ahead of you. This is hospitality indeed.

  7. I had a similar experience with the F&B manager at PH Maldives. He must’ve known, from my room reservation request, that I didn’t drink and as we were talking recommended a mocktail for me on my first night even though I didn’t specifically mention to him that l don’t drink during our talk (and when the bill came, it was comped). I was impressed that he knew me and my request. The extra touch went above and beyond.

  8. Along with the Screwdriver and the Mimosa, the Bloody Mary is actually one of a few cocktails popular during morning hours, especially at brunch.

    I’d say an hour after breakfast is a more than reasonable hour to partake.

  9. Never had noteworthy above-and-beyond experience at major chain hotels. Great service – yes, but nothing to the level that was described in the article.

    I did have an outstanding service at a family-owned property group called Komaneka in Ubud Bali. We stayed at their Tanggayuda property. We wanted to try suckling pig from a famous restaurant in the area (Ibu Oka), but we did not have the time. The front office manager arranged to get some for us, served us in their restaurant, all complimentary. Then she had their kitchen baked a chocolate cake for us since it was our honeymoon. We did not really want to leave after that …

  10. I too am really looking forward to more on the St Regis Mauritius. I live in Hawaii and have always wanted to visit our twin on the opposite side of the planet, I’ve heard it is incredible!

  11. I agree about little touches making a hotel memorable. We were just on a vacation, mostly to Viet Nam. While I usually don’t stay at Park Hyatt calibre hotels, the front desk and business center service were above and beyond fantastic. Very memorable. Two other memories were the manager of the Lantana in Hoi An always greeting us by name and asking about our day, giving tips, etc. And finally, the most memorable, at the $25/night Holiday Diamond Hotel in Hue, I asked for the nearest ATM. I got the directions, but couldn’t find it. I hadn’t gone far enough. When I got back to the hotel, the front desk person told the bellman to give me a ride to the ATM (on his scooter, of course in VN). I generally make it a habit to avoid motorbikes and scooters, but took him up on it. It was my first ride on the back of a scooter or bike.

  12. My wife and I spent a week in Mauritius last year for my honeymoon and came away with a similar experience as Ben. We stayed at the Four Seasons and granted we were spending a lot of money and the hotel knew it was our honeymoon, but the level of service we received was above and beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Once I saw on Instagram that Ben was in Mauritius I was curious to see if his experience was anything like ours and am happy to see that they were.

    Mauritius is an amazing country to visit, albeit a long ways to get to. We had planned on this being a once in a lifetime vacation but are already planning our next trip there. There are better and closer beaches that we could easily go to, but the people we met there have us clamoring to go back.

  13. That is nice. Once we had similar experience in Beirut (at FourPoints Hotel). The bartender realizing that we are to fly back to a rather sad place (would not name the city/country) prepared for me and my colleagues one of their signature cocktails for free (Cocktail otherwise was called ‘Take me home’).
    The day before we made quite a consumption there, but still it was very kind of him.

  14. Lucky – great story. Do you ever feel like the standard then becomes too high with stories like these, with unreasonable travelers expecting/demanding the same treatment? On the occasions when we’ve had fantastic service, we are always wary of mentioning too many specifics for fear of putting an undue burden on staff/crew. Thoughts?

  15. The wife and I stayed at the St. Regis Mauritius six months after it opened and had an AMAZING experience. Easily one of the best hotels we’ve ever visited. Our only mistake was staying there for just three nights!

    Did you get to do the champagne sabering??

  16. I agree 100 %! any hotel can upgrade and renovate rooms and amenities to a certain standard. That’s the easy part. The part that’s harder to upkeep, and speaks volumes of a hotel quality are the small details , most often found in customer service. It’s a always a gem to find a hotel that has the right balance of a great ‘product’ (interiors, decor, amenities, etc) with customer service. It’s the little things that count – not everyone will remember how luxurious a hotel room’s robe felt or its sheet thread count, but every guest will remember how staff made them feel important and recognised.
    On a side note, re: St. Regis Bloody Marys – The St. Regis in Rome also provided (as a welcome amenity) the St Regis Bloody Mary recipe book, along with a picnic basket that contained all ingredients to D-I-Y the St Regis Rome Bloody Mary.

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