Jan

09

2013


Guest Room Updates

“Come on in, and make yourself comfortable!” That’s the vibe I eventually want to achieve in our little guest room. Some progress has been made since my Five-star Ranch House post. Here’s an update, plus some tips for your own guest room(s)!

Toiletry Basket
An easy addition to any guest room is a basket filled with items visitors may have forgotten or may need. Collect a stash of items during work and play travels, and replenish your guest room toiletry basket with unused mini-shampoos and conditioners, body wash, lotion and more. My itsy bitsy toiletry basket (a tin, actually) also includes a shower cap, shoe bag, nail polish remover pads, floss, tissues and a wash cloth. Other helpful items could include a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash or a mini deodorant – delight guests by thinking of everything!

A Logical Layout
We recently improved the feng shui of our guest room by moving the bed in front of the window to free up some space on either side (and by removing a few unnecessary obstacles / random pieces of furniture). The windows finally received some treatment, and a transparent, geometric headboard (made locally by the friendly folks at Southern Chicks in Tallahassee, Fla., using discarded material from my friend’s remodeled home) provides a focal point without completely blocking the window. The ginormous chest moved to its new, caddy-corner spot, rounding out that area of the room.

Creature Conveniences
Guests should have space to rest their belongings, including reading materials, glasses and phones. I used some existing basket drawers in our home to create two side tables, added a lamp (for bookworm guests) and an alarm clock (for snoozy guests) to one side of the bed, and a handmade tray with some accessories to the other. Oh, and I added a waste basket – not all that interesting, but it’ll do for now.

So here’s an update on the guest room goals:

  • Rearrange layout for better use of space
  • Add curtain rod and curtains (surely this should have been the first thing we did!)
  • Replace headboard (I made current one haphazardly in 2005, pre-Pinterest)
  • Refinish and re-hinge chest + fill with guest blankets
  • Add:
    • Side tables (at the appropriate height)
    • Lamps
    • Ceiling fan
    • Luggage rack
    • Magazines
    • Candles
    • Night light
    • Mirror
    • Chair
    • Alarm clock
    • Tissue box
    • Waste basket
    • Jewelry tray
    • Guest book and pen
    • Wooden hangers
    • Robe(s)
    • Basket with toiletry supplies (soaps, shampoo, lotion…)
    • Touches like snacks, bottled waters, pillow chocolates, and flowers…
    • Local area beauty/history books and photos for out-of-town guests to appreciate
    • Guest towels and wash cloths

We’re getting there! What welcoming guest room additions have you made in your own home?

Aug

28

2012


The Guest Experience: An Interview with The Breakers’ Kirk Bell

How does one of America’s most legendary resort destinations, a 140-acre property with 540 guest rooms, manage to create a highly personalized guest experience? To learn more, I had the pleasure of interviewing true professional Kirk Bell, hotel manager for The Breakers Palm Beach. Overseeing everything from the front desk and concierge to the individual guest rooms, Bell was gracious enough to share strategies for a seamless and surprisingly entertaining guest experience that can benefit hosts and hostesses at every level.

 Main Lobby: LILA Photo; Fountain and Aerial View: The Breakers Palm Beach
Oh My Goodness Gracious with Kirk Bell, The Breakers Palm Beach

Anticipate Issues
“Hosting guests in your home is little different from managing the guest experience at a large resort,” said Bell, who has been with The Breakers for 10 of his 25 years in the business. “Anticipate, and always add something new. You want to know your guests and work to anticipate needs even before they realize them.”

And anticipate they do. For instance, I appreciated that our luggage made it to our room before we did! Bell explained that at the end of a guest’s jog, staff members may anticipate that he or she needs a bottle of water or a chilled towel… Keeping an eye on the weather radar, they may prepare to offer umbrellas at the front door or towels where people may get caught in the rain. He shared that one of his favorite rewards is seeing letters and surveys indicating the staff knew what guests needed before they even needed it.

One adorable thing I witnessed was children departing from The Breakers with parents and selecting stuffed animals from a little treasure chest. Since kids are often sad to leave, The Breakers offers them stuffed animals in aquatic and tropical themes, so they depart with a little piece of their stay. They come back wanting to collect them all (a calling and an expectation for kids). Brilliant!

Surprise
“For the most part, guests don’t walk away with anything but a memory, so you want to create a special experience,” added Bell.

Whether at The Breakers or in your own home, Bell explained it is important to try and have something new for guests to enjoy each time. For The Breakers, that something new could mean a new restaurant, pool area or room decor. Continually striving to offer engaging experiences, The Breakers’ newest addition is an exciting drinking and dining experience opening this fall. Described as “lively, glamorous and unique,” it’s planned in collaboration with famed hospitality designer Adam Tihany and will be an ode to the classic Palm Beach cocktail culture. Likely one Mrs. Lilien would approve of. Sign me up!


Know Your Guests
When you invite guests into your home, it is good practice to know a little about them in advance. Are kids coming? Do they have certain dietary needs? At The Breakers, that concern for guest comfort is no different. They just have a much more sophisticated system to enable a highly personalized experience. From the moment you call The Breakers, a staff member is already looking into any personal guest history information on-file. Are you there for a conference? If not, you may need a restaurant suggestion. Boom! They’ve got it.

Guest Room Greatness
The Breakers recently underwent a five-year, $80 million redesign of all guest rooms. Before starting the project, guests were asked what they’d like to see. Their answer? They wanted to be reminded of where they were: by the ocean, in a tropical place. You’ll find The Breakers did a beautiful job of providing that atmosphere, complete with vintage Old Florida photographs and a fresh, new decor in a distinctive and classic style.

Inspired by how the resort incorporated the local area into its decor, I may have to apply this idea to our own guest room – maybe some Tallahassee touches and photo books for out-of-town guests to appreciate. Consider that added to the guest room goals!

The Breakers Palm Beach: Oceanfront Suite - Bedroom

Respect
Within the halls of the grand structure, there was something that made me feel right at home, and it wasn’t just the Bloody Marys talking. Bell, who began at The Breakers as front door manager, attributes that feeling to the awesome staff, and I have to agree.

One of the resort’s core values is respect. Respect guests. Respect each other. Maybe that’s why The Breakers has such high longevity among its employees. When an organization is like a family, the camaraderie is noticeable, and it rubs off! At every turn, the staff seemed genuine, friendly and essentially non-robotic. It was comforting.

The Pro at Home
I was very curious to hear just how The Breakers’ hotel manager entertains in his own home, so I asked Bell how he would prepare for a small gathering with only a few hours of notice.

“Go with what you know,” replied Bell. “This is not the time to experiment.”

His final advice: Look around you for ideas. The Breakers team travels the world looking for new ways to enhance the guest experience, and as individual hosts and hostesses, we too can find sources of inspiration wherever we go.

Aug

17

2012


Creating a Five-star Ranch House

Since settling into our mid-century modern home a few years ago, we’ve done some cosmetic home projects here and there, but our guest room leaves much to be desired. It is comfortable – decorated with hand-me-downs and featuring a great backyard view – but my goal is to make this guest room worthy of a five-star rating.

Current guest room snapshot:


Some guest room goals:

  • Rearrange layout for better use of space
  • Add curtain rod and curtains (surely this should have been the first thing we did!)
  • Replace headboard (I made current one haphazardly in 2005, pre-Pinterest)
  • Refinish and re-hinge chest + fill with guest blankets
  • Add:
    • Side tables (at the appropriate height)
    • Lamps
    • Ceiling fan
    • Luggage rack
    • Magazines
    • Candles
    • Night light
    • Mirror
    • Chair
    • Alarm clock
    • Tissue box
    • Waste basket
    • Jewelry tray
    • Guest book and pen
    • Wooden hangers
    • Robe(s)
    • Basket with toiletry supplies (soaps, shampoo, lotion…)
    • Touches like snacks, bottled waters, pillow chocolates, and flowers…
    • Local area beauty/history books and photos for out-of-town guests to appreciate

Do you have an inspiring guest room or ideas? Please contact me. I’d love to see photos and share!