By Sarah Campbell
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be invited on a media trip to visit the Bulgari Hotel Milan. It is the first in a planned chain of ten luxury hotels to fall under the Bulgari umbrella. The second hotel, Bulgari Hotel Bali, is scheduled to open in July.
|~||~||~|Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be invited on a media trip to visit the Bulgari Hotel Milan. It is the first in a planned chain of ten luxury hotels to fall under the Bulgari umbrella. The second hotel, Bulgari Hotel Bali, is scheduled to open in July.
Naturally, the 58-room boutique hotel is stunning. Its interiors are comfortably furnished in soft browns against stark blacks and whites, while the property itself sits within a large garden – a rare treat in a built up city such as Milan.
However, what set this hotel apart for me was the level of service. Bulgari Hotels & Resorts is a joint venture between The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Bulgari, so you expect the service levels to be high. While Ritz-Carlton pushes home the fact that its staff are ‘Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen’ the Bulgari mantra could almost be one of ‘Long lost friend serves long lost friend.’
Somehow, the staff manage to balance being informal and friendly with gracious service. There are none of the well-rehearsed lines you expect from a five-star property, and you can expect an enthusiastic ‘Hi’ rather than a “Good morning madam”, when you go down to breakfast. The general manager, Attilio Marro, points out that with a well-rehearsed pattern you are more likely to get it wrong, and urges his staff to be as natural as possible. “You can train technique, but you can’t train attitude,” Marro says.
Starched uniforms are also a thing of the past, as Bulgari staff float around the hotel in linen, unformed suits in chocolate brown, looking every bit as stylish as the Milanese fashionistas they serve.
All in all, this new attitude to service is a breath of fresh air, and I would urge more hotels to look at the Bulgari model. This is a hotel that repeatedly welcomes company CEOs, top VIPs and celebrities, and its unfazed staff take it all in their stride, making everyone feel welcome, and at home.
Contemporary hotels need to bring their service levels into the 21st century too, with less pomp and circumstance and more genuine care.||**||