EVERY HOTEL NEEDS ONE OR TWO "DOWNTOWN" SPOTS. WHERE A COUPLE OR A SINGLE TRAVELLER CAN FEEL AT THE CENTRE OF THINGS EVEN IF COMPLETELY ALONE.
If your manager does not know where his "Downtown" is, maybe he doesn't know he should have one. It is that little piece of space where small groups of people gravitate when your occupancy is low.
In a resort, there needs to be a spot in the pool area or at the beach. In a city hotel, the lobby, the bar and the restaurants all need a favourite and comfortable spot, the best spot in the house........when you are alone or with only a few people.... you still feel 'at home'.
Too many developers, operators and designers make snap decisions on layouts without giving extraordinary attention to the details of the small spaces where their customers may spend hours. Where the consolidated impressions of many clients will be formed.
At the end of the day at the poolside, the sun is setting and the shadows are lengthening, most of the bathers have left for the day and a few stragglers remain, giggling, cajoling. A new arrival wanders out to see the pool area. He would sit down and pass some time if there was a spot from where he might observe the area. If there is not, he is lost. He will go elsewhere, he is a lost customer, perhaps forever.
That 'downtown' spot would probably be the spot where the first guest would settle in the morning. A favourite spot that would immediately brand the area as populated. It could be a chaise at poolside, a stool in the bar or a booth in the restaurant. It would be from this carefuully designed spot that the crowds would expand outwards, but if they didn't, the guests would feel comfortable, at ease and completely at home.
Do I speak of a talent for space planning that hospitality people should have? Do I speak of a skill that is critical to their success?
The answer to both questions is Yes!
It is the ability to think through carefully the impression that you will give to the customer who frequents your hotel in the off season, in a quiet period, a down-time. It is the recognition that one needs to give to the fact that 100% of your facilities will not be used 100% of the time. It is the recognition that at those times, one needs to be triply conscious of the ambience that is lost when the space is devoid of or lacking people.
This kind of natural thinking must be second nature to a hotelier, a restaurateur, an owner and our designers. They must be able to sit in every seat in their restaurant, bar and lobby, even if only sitting there virtually. They need to see what their customers see, feel what their customers feel, smell what their customers smell and touch what their customers touch.
And this they must do, whether they are busy........ and particularly if they are not.
Back in the early days when 'Four Seasons' was 'Inn on the Park' and the real and only Four Seasons was a motor hotel in the seedy Jarvis St district of Toronto, I had been hired as GM of the soon-to-be first purpose-built Four Seasons in the world.
Where and on what did I spend the first months of my great times at Four Seasons? The time was spent designing each restaurant table, centimetre by centimetre, the width, the length, the thickness and the height. The flower pot, the marmalade pot, the sugar, the creamer, all had to be measured and their movements anticipated. We 'sat' in each seat and anticipated the view, the waiters' traffic patterns and the face contact with other clients.
It is not an accident that Four Seasons is the ultimate in quality & service, they designed it that way.
"Quality is never an accident,
It is always the result of calculated effort."
For assistance in locating your 'downtown', contact email@example.com