Monthly Archives: May 2011

Chalk and Cheese

Last week while I was on holiday in Scotland we had a fabulous meal at the Ardanaiseig Hotel in Argyllshire, where Chef de Cuisine is Gary Goldie, Chef of the Year, Scottish Hotel Awards 2011. We enjoyed it so much we went back the following day and spent time at the hotel and exploring the gardens. On both visits we received a warm welcome and attentive service.

Compare this to another local hotel. Same star rating, equally impressive location and stunning views across Loch Awe.

Sadly the same could not be said for the impression it left on us.

As we drove up to the entrance a sign directed us to the back of the building. I could appreciate they did not want cars parked at the front, interrupting the views. However, grand as the front entrance was, the back was far from impressive. As we approached the car park, we felt as if we were getting the evil eye from someone sheltering from the rain under the archway, smoking a cigarette. We could only assume form his attire that he was a hotel employee.

On entering the car park, we passed unsightly equipment – a rusting barbeque and other dishevelled tools. The back of the hotel was far from attractive and at this point I almost suggesting turning round and heading back to the Ardanaiseig. We carried on and down the back steps, passing the window to either the cleaning cupboard or kitchen, whose cluttered windowsill was laden with cleaning products. Then into the back corridor, only to walk past the gents, with the door wide open and the urinal in full view.

I’d love to say this could be forgiven had our afternoon tea made up for it – it didn’t. We waiting over half an hour and when tea did finally arrive, it was luke warm!

What a waste. This hotel could have been fantastic, had someone just thought through the customer journey and taken a leaf out of the Ardanaiseig’s book.


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The Value of Referrals

I’m having lunch today at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Of course I’d heard great things about the restaurant in the past, and have even met Raymond Blanc some years ago, but to be frank it probably was not on my priority list of places to go.

Then last summer when I was interviewing business strategist Peter Thomson for my series on How to give your hotel a competitive edge, Peter sited Le Manoir as an example of phenomenal service. He described it as “Absolutely fantastic from start to finish”.

Shortly after my interview with Peter some friends of ours were visiting from Denmark. They asked us to put together an itinerary for them for a week in the south of England. So remembering Peter’s comments I recommended Le Manoir, and duly made a reservation.

Our friends absolutely loved it.

….So much so, in fact that they could not believe we’d never been ourselves, and invited us as their guests; hence our trip today.

So from one person’s experience has come not one further booking, but has sparked a whole chain. And it probably won’t end there. As I was telling some friends about this on Friday, they too suggested a visit for their forthcoming 50th birthday.

Of course, this hasn’t happened by accident. It has had to live up to its reputation, and offer something that will continue to wow its customers on a consistent basis. But even without such a celebrated chef as Raymond Blanc, every hotel or restaurant should be able to find that something special that will continue to wow their customers and guests every time they visit, and prompt repeat business and a chain of referrals.

So what can you do to wow your restaurant customers and hotel guests and give them something to talk about, so they tell their friends and spark that chain of bookings?


I’m currently running a further series of FREE interviews, when I talk to hospitality experts and specialists and ask them to share their insights, strategies and secrets that can help to give your hotel a competitive edge.  Find out more and register here.