Up­front

Kit Pap­pas, Capella Ho­tel & Re­sorts ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, sales and mar­ket­ing, shares thoughts on Ul­tra Lux­ury

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

One on One with Capella Ho­tel & Re­sorts’ Kit Pap­pas. Win­ter boosts lodg­ing re­sults in Jan­uary. EL AL fields Vi­aSat In­flight. Langham opens ninth in China. Mar­riott in­tro­duces mo­bile check­out. ANA rolls out in­ter­na­tional WiFi. MGM Grand de­buts Stay Well lounge. Small Ho­tels adds Hangzhou Rose Gar­den Re­sort. Groundlink re­veals re­designed web­site. Lufthansa launches new Pre­mium Econ­omy Class. Spas and iPads are com­ing to DCA. Ori­ent Ex­press re­brands as Belmond. EVEN Ho­tels part­ners with Ath­letic-Minded Trav­eler. SpringHill bows in San Diego.

BT: Who is Capella Ho­tels & Re­sorts?

PAP­PAS: We’re a ho­tel man­age­ment com­pany op­er­at­ing three unique ho­tel types: 1) In­de­pen­dent ho­tels, i.e. Auburn Univer­sity or The Founders Inn – up­scale full ser­vice prop­er­ties that might in­clude meet­ings and events, or Ayana Re­sort & Spa in Bali that pro­vides lux­ury and in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion; 2) The Solis Ho­tels & Re­sorts brand with lo­cal color for the global pal­ette; and, 3) Capella Ho­tels, an ul­tra-lux­ury brand with per­son­al­ized at­ten­tion to the in­di­vid­ual needs of the so­phis­ti­cated trav­eler.

BT: How do you de­fine ser­vice, make it mem­o­rable?

PAP­PAS: Capella spent a great deal of time study­ing these ex­act ques­tions. The needs of the trav­eler look­ing for the ul­tra lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence are chang­ing. The zeit­geist that typ­i­fies this in­cludes:

A sense of ex­clu­siv­ity: The Capella model is de­signed for prop­er­ties with less than 100 rooms, and a space for guests sep­a­rate from the pub­lic ar­eas that we call liv­ing rooms.

Loy­alty be­fore be­ing loyal to us: Our guests – and most any­one for that mat­ter – wants to be shown re­spect be­fore they show it to an­other. We look to gain that re­spect, start­ing with the Per­sonal As­sis­tant ar­rang­ing de­tails weeks prior to ar­rival. “Check-in” and “check-out” is when you ar­rive or need to leave. In­cluded in your visit with us is a wel­come amenity, In­ter­net, re­fresh­ment cen­ter. If we learn that you sleep on the right hand side of the bed, we’ll place the alarm clock on the right. All touches that will your re­spect and make you want to visit again.

Ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence: We re­spect qual­ity ameni­ties, art, fur­nish­ings, and all the hard goods in a ho­tel, be­cause they are things our guests ex­pect since they have them at home. They are look­ing for that lo­cal con­nec­tion and very per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence. They want to go home and talk about their ex­pe­ri­ence.

Legacy: Through this re­search we also learned people want to leave a part of them­selves with us, as well as take a part of their in­ter­ac­tions home with them. We do not wear name tags. But we al­ways re­ceive com­ments from guests leav­ing a per­sonal note, and the staff is al­ways ref­er­enced by name.

BT: There is a ref­er­ence card that em­ploy­ees carry with 25 points printed on it. Can you speak to that?

PAP­PAS: Sure. One of our be­liefs is that people re­spond to mo­ti­va­tions and ob­jec­tives, rather than or­ders and di­rec­tives. We all have a role to play to cre­ate ex­cel­lence in ser­vice stan­dards and com­mon­al­i­ties re­gard­less the cul­ture. Each mem­ber of the Capella fam­ily car­ries this card and knows how it fits into our busi­ness ob­jec­tives. Whether that is oper­a­tion ef­fi­ciency or cre­at­ing loyal cus­tomers who will visit again, all of the staff can of­ten re­cite a dif­fer­ent num­ber on the card when asked.

This is ex­em­pli­fied by the hun­dreds and hun­dreds of com­ments that most of­ten fo­cus on our people. The card also em­pow­ers our people; it en­cour­ages them to make the right dif­fer­ence for our guests. Our people and our size, in this case, is our com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. At 50 to 100 rooms, we can be very se­lec­tive and re­in­force mak­ing a dif­fer­ence for each in­di­vid­ual guest ev­ery day.

BT: Where will we see new Capella Ho­tels in the fu­ture?

PAP­PAS: Sev­eral are al­ready un­der way while oth­ers are still in the very early stages. The mar­kets we are look­ing at in­clude Bangkok, Niseko (Ja­pan), Jakarta, In­done­sia, Lon­don, NewYork, Mi­ami, Mex­ico, Qatar and the Caribbean.

BT: Is there any­thing else you want Busi­ness Trav­eler read­ers to know?

PAP­PAS: We look for­ward to con­tin­ued growth in the right mar­kets, adapt­ing to the cur­rent and fu­ture needs of our guests. What we are de­liv­er­ing is very spe­cial and I hope you and your read­ers get to share that per­sonal and in­di­vid­u­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence in the fu­ture.

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