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