We were at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne the other day. The place is beautiful: Right on the beach, everything pristine clean, perfectly manicured grass. The Ritz is one of those places that just feels good to be in, even if you’re just there, not doing anything.
That’s only the aesthetic part, though.
We had brunch at a Burger Bar there. That’s our server, Ana, in the photo. Ana greeted us with a genuine smile and even shook our hands. When it came time to order, Ana made specific recommendations for what we should choose. No pen and pad to remember what we wanted; at the best places, the servers never write things down.
It was Ana’s hospitable energy that caught my attention the most. I asked Ana if, to get her job at the Ritz, was she always this type of person, or did they train her to be that way?
Ana said that a lot of it was her personal style, but added that “it’s part of the culture” at the Ritz to be this way. They’re trained to interact a certain way with patrons, and at the Ritz, the employees are “Ladies and Gentlemen, serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”
I like that.
As we walked through the building, every employee we passed spoke to us and smiled. The bellmen at the front wouldn’t dare let us open a door ourselves; I was a step away from doing so when a guy ran over in front of me to open it for us.
Have you ever eaten somewhere where the photographed food on the menu looks waaaay better than the actual food on your plate? At the Ritz, there were no photos on the menu — but the food looked like it had come fresh out of the studio. Paper straws (plastic is bad for the environment). They even had homemade ketchup.
Two sandwiches. A piña colada drink. Valet parking. $92. And I’d gladly pay it again.
For Your Game
- Compare this experience with the nickel-and-diming meeting planner and my you-get-what-you-pay-for dealing with Groupon. The Ritz got more value (here, the value was money) out of me (and will receive more of my repeat business) for two burgers than either of the others got for what would’ve been much larger time and energy investments. Why? How I felt in dealing with them — not the product itself.
- Notice that I didn’t say anything about the quality of the food (the sandwiches were good; loved the homemade ketchup; the two sips I took of the drink were excellent) nor did I gripe about the 18% auto-gratuity (I don’t like when any business does this, but it’s becoming more and more the norm). The fact is, when you feel good about a situation, money isn’t as big a factor as it is when you don’t feel so good. Make someone laugh, and they’ll buy (more) from you than when if they’re serious. Good vibes open wallets.
- Ana had also told us that she used to work at the Ritz in South Beach — but the hotel had been closed since last September’s hurricane had done major damage to the facility and grounds, leaving 480 people without a job. Ana was actually a trained bartender — not a server — but she’d taken the server job since that’s what was available. Ana had just two weeks earlier been granted full-time status after being part-time there for months. She had been able to get the job there because she had a good relationship with someone who worked at the Key Biscayne Ritz who helped get her in when nearly 500 other workers were also applying. Relationships can do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
When have you paid extra for something you could’ve gotten much cheaper? What was so great about the experience that made it worth it? Reply and share with me.