Hotel Impossible, The Curve

Last night’s episode of Hotel Impossible featuring The Curve boutique hotel in Palm Springs California provided some excellent lessons for new hoteliers to learn. Whether the host Anthony Melchiorri realized it or not, the show highlighted the importance of commitment, planning and establishing the proper image.

Episode Recap: No Experience but a lot of Potential

The episode also demonstrated what goes wrong when a hotel is floundering without leadership, hotel systems and training. More importantly, the show pinpointed the importance of having a caring staff and how they can change everything with the proper management and tools.

As expected the root cause of the problems started at the top. The owners, Robert and Allen, were real estate investors that had a dream but not the hotel experience or knowledge to transform the former budget hotel into a boutique establishment.

Missing Hotel Maintenance and Housekeeping Systems

The best way to understand what lessons could be learned is to understand and review the mounting maintenance and housekeeping problems that presented the opportunities for improvement. Anthony’s premises, perimeter and room inspectionsuncovered:

Maintenance and Housekeeping Ouches

  • A mix of furniture styles in the¬†hotel lobby, business center and rooms giving the hotel more of a motel feel.
  • Main sign that was poorly maintained and was not image related.
  • Stained and vomit smelling poolside mattresses.
  • Damp musty smelling guest rooms.
  • Shed doors falling off the hinges.
  • Numerous safety issues.
  • Urine smelling bedspreads
  • Torn linens
  • A live caterpillar on the guest room mattress
  • Filthy bathrooms having:
    • Rust
    • Caked grime
    • Hair in drains
    • Shower heads to low
    • Worn toilet covers
    • Visible pubic hairs
    • Stains everywhere
    • Mold in grout

These were just the some of the physical problems the hotel faced. The real question was why was this occurring?

What Hotelier Can Learn

Interviews with key staff including the GM, the Heads of Engineering and Housekeeping revealed that the problems seemed to be the result of a lack of training and supplies. The interviews also indicated that the supposedly experienced GM was not using any type of system to even be aware of what was going on. I found this very curious.

However, the most telling result of the interviews was the discovery of Joaquin’s passion for his job and the hotel. This was a man who was visibly upset a number of times because he was unable to do his job well. It was his passion that the owners needed to feel and have in order to move forward.

Fortunately, Anthony recognized the opportunity at hand. Subsequent meetings and confrontations convinced the owners to become emotionally involved with the hotel and obtain additional investment monies so that each department could have the tools they needed to do their jobs better.

It is important to remember that the proper tools are more than mops, cleaning supplies or fresh linens. They include hotel systems to perform room inspections, schedule preventive maintenance and perform perimeter checks. These systems are critical to hotel maintenance planning and guest satisfaction.

Lean Into The Curve

Once the owners and staff bought into the future of the hotel the next step was to change its image. To be a boutique hotel you have to be unique in some way that can bring guest in. For The Curve this meant two things: the first was the renovation of the lobby and bar to a more contemporary Palm Springs theme.

The second was to create a fun setting. This was accomplished by bringing in huge bumper rollers that guest could get inside of and play in the pool. With this and a new attitude the hotel could now be marketed as a fun place to go with a marketing slogan that guests could lean into the curve.

It will be interesting to see how this hotel has fared when it is revisited. The hotel’s potential once all the rooms are cleaned and renovated could make it a very attractive destination. On the other hand, if the systems now in place are not used correctly, maintenance will falter and return the image of the hotel back to a low class dive.

Tell us about the hotels you have stayed at. What were their opportunities to improve? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.

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