Having excellent service when travelling is a given – or so one thinks. But sometimes, we have all been surprised when others do go beyond their call of duty or just really love what they are doing – and we all knows it doesn’t happen everything. I have recently shared by favourite travel customer service experiences – and that prompted many readers from all over the world to send in theirs, for which I am very grateful.
It all comes down to one thing: not the most expensive hotel or airline – but down to the people who work there and seem to care. Most of these touches cost companies very little or nothing – and these are the ones each reader remembers fondly.
Without further ado, here are some of the stories sent to me recently:
‘Talking to someone at the Four Seasons in Lisbon about a great strawberry purée dessert they had. Noted how good it would taste with champagne. An hour later two glasses of champagne with strawberry purée were delivered to our room’. Amber, Bangkok
‘At the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, in Cusco, Peru, the service is fabulous in all areas, however, we found it stood out from others as your dedicated butler would come to your suite each evening and mix you sundowner cocktails of your choice at your own in room cocktail bar. Naturally it has to be a Pisco Sour enjoyed on your balcony overlooking Cusco! The hotel also pumps oxygen into your room to help you acclimatise to the altitude, how thoughtful and it truly goes the extra mile! At Home House Club, in London, I returned to Home House after a hard days shopping to find a chilled glass of bubbly waiting for me in my room. Their timing was impeccable and they must have seen me arrive and rushed to have it waiting for me to enjoy and relax! And finally, at Limewood Hotel, Lyndhurst, New Forest (UK), two things stood out for me during my stay. Firstly on check in they ask you what morning beverages you would like for the following day and at what time. It is great to wake up with a coffee that is automatically brought to your room so you can start your day. On check out I also submitted a customer survey questionnaire as you do. By the time I had got home I had received a personal email and thank you from the general manager for my feedback. This is extremely rare indeed!’ Rosie, Switzerland
‘I loved the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. In this busy town it was a calm and relaxed place. I never saw the staff. But when my napkin fell down at the breakfast table or I needed another one of their fabulous Vietnamese iced coffees, they magically appeared’. Anja, Cologne, Germany
‘When I stayed at Como Shambala -Ubud in Bali, we went for a hike around the rice fields. I slipped in the mud and my shoes and socks were all dirty and muddy. When we arrived at the hotel, one of the house keeping ladies was waiting for me (the tour was booked at the hotel front desk) with a basket to collect my shoes and socks. The next morning when we woke up, we found the basket with the shoes impecably cleaned and the socks wrapped in silk paper. Never had service like this before’. Amelia, Portugal
‘While on holiday with my small dog at the Belmond La Residencia in Mallorca, Spain. I had been invited to a Chefs Dinner and after my return I found that not only had my whole room had turn over service, but I found my dog sleeping on his own little dog bed and a treat placed on my desk to give him when I got back. It’s truly those little things!’ Joanna, Spain
‘BA Club World’s crew giving us a bottle of champagne on our arrival in Tokyo to enjoy on our honeymoon (and also on the return to enjoy at home!!) and at Park Hyatt Tokyo, when we checked in and escorted to our room, they noted the air conditioning temp that we were comfortable with so they could set it the same every day. They also left me fresh milk in the fridge for my tea after I requested it once, and extra Rooibos Plum Tea when they realised that was my in-room favourite. Other special touches included taking our photo in the library and leaving it for us in a frame in our room one day, requesting for baby shampoo to rinse my eye out when it was sore and it arrived in minutes…the gift of sake and nuts in a gorgeous wooden box…the list goes on….We were there for 9 nights before a couple of nights at the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel (never again!!) We can’t wait to go back and are planning for Christmas 2017!!’ Melanie, UK
‘I recently stayed at The Library Hotel, New York. Friendly, comfortable, central but what I loved the most was the complimentary provision of a ‘wine & cheese’ reception every day 5 – 8pm in the Reading Room. It made a lovely start to the evening and although by no means compulsory, gave the opportunity to socialise with other guests. I have never been anywhere else where they have this policy and it works beautiful‘. Lynnsay, UK
‘A check in staff member at BA in Dallas business class saw I had a bad back last year and escorted my husband and I through security (saving over 45 minutes wait) as she was going off duty. What a difference that was to a long trip back to the UK‘. Ali, Portugal
“My experience is a tiny one (perhaps because I believe exceptional service is extremely hard to find) but it had a big impact on me because it was so unusual. My husband and I went for lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire and the attentiveness of the staff was excellent throughout, as I expected. However, what impressed me most was when the waitress came to the table mid-way through our lunch with a basket of bread rolls and suddenly used my name, “Would you like a bread roll Mrs Evans-Howe?”. The first use of my name during this dining experience was so understated and cleverly used to imply a genuine interest, it quite took me by surprise! I felt this showed genuine empathy and also demonstrated a high level of management skill to cultivate such a small, yet significant, spontaneous moment of truth”. Sarah, UK
‘When a small hotel in Sombor, Serbia (Garni Andric) had read my online comment prior to arriving and had brought in diabetic friendly food for me’. Jackie, Staffordshire, UK
Cocktails at Lux Maldives
‘At Lux Maldives we had wine and sweets on our return visit to say thank you for coming back and we loved when we they brought lovely cocktails on the beach when we hadn’t even ordered them. I will never forget Platinum heritage tours, for going out of the way to find my daughters sandals she left behind in the desert – they even came back cleaner!’ Bronwen, UK
‘Stayed at two Singita camps in Tanzania. At the second the lunch waiter ask ‘Am I right that you prefer sparkling water Richard and you prefer still Jo?’ A very small thing in the big scheme of travel, but shows the care they put into your stay’. Richard, UK
‘The Lenox Hotel, Boston: I asked if they could help me to get a parcel to the UK for me. I would pay for the shipping as it was a birthday gift which I should have arranged before travelling. I didnt want it to arrive too late. The hotel packed and shipped it for me. They even waived the costs‘. Molly, Spain
‘Just returned from Anantara Rassanda in Koh Phangan – such amazing service in a relaxed luxury hotel. Little things like cleaning your sunglasses whilst eating your breakfast so they are nice and clean ready for a day in the sun! Also upgraded us as we were on honeymoon.’ Nicola, UK
‘Four Seasons Riyadh was there on business and had forgotten to pack my cuff links. On enquiring at reception where I could buy some for use the next day I was offered a comprehensive selection of the hotels own to select a pair to borrow‘. Steve, UK
‘On a flight between Bangkok and Dubai aboard Emirates A380 in F. I didn’t have time to have a shower (long drive from Krabi), so I asked for a shower first thing. No dinner, just wanted to sleep. But asked for second shower before landing in DXB. So it was (and i’s not meant to, only one shower p/pax). The surprise was a Dom Perignon Mimosa AND a double espresso right in the bathroom, just waiting for me!‘ Rodrigues Pereira, Portugal
‘I think one of the most special customer service experiences I have had is at Angama Mara in Kenya. It was truly special from beginning to end. One example, my husband and I were watching a film in the library when drinks and snacks arrived without either of us asking. It’s always the little things…An amazing place, I actually cried when I waved goodbye‘. Lisa, UK
‘I was very impressed with Virgin Atlantic’s customer service. Their dedicated entry into Heathrow, being met outside the airport by their personnel who whisk away your luggage and lead you through a private security line – makes traveling that much more civilised!‘ Mary, USA
‘I can’t say enough about Virgin Atlantic myself. We lived in London and regularly flew back to the States to visit family with a newborn who aged through toddlerhood and I often did it alone. VA could not have been more different. The flight attendants were falling over themselves to help me, checking in with me regularly to see what they could do for me, helping me with my bags, you name it. We flew VA exclusively whenever possible. Also on my “forever grateful” list is the Schloss Fuschl, a luxury Resort & Spa in Salzburg, Austria. Again traveling with the littles, but this time my parents as well and we really wanted to take them to he gorgeous restaurant in the castle for a nice “grown-up” dinner. But what about the kiddos sleeping? Easy. One of the restaurant hosts just took my baby monitor, said, “I’ll be sure to come get you if there’s any stirring. Now go have a glass of wine.” and BOOM. Holiday made!‘ Kerri, USA
‘When traveling with a family, customer service can be the most important part of a hotel. While vacationing at Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos our little guy stepped on a shell and cut his foot, in the grand scheme of things, not a huge injury, but he was in tears and it really hurt. Every decent hotel has some band aids and access to health care if you need it, but Parrot Cay sent a nurse to our room without us even asking. She arrived with a first aid box and a hug. Of course every aspect of their customer service was similarly fabulous, but this was really above and beyond what I have seen any hotel do and it really saved the day‘. Kim-Marie, USA
‘As a mom of a child with special needs, flying alone with my daughter is really a challenge. She loves to fly, that’s the easy part. Wrangling luggage, her meds and specially fit wheelchair and car seat through TSA and on the flight with her in her car seat (she’s non-ambulatory), then doing the reverse on the other side takes every ounce of my energy. The airlines offer basic assistance to and from the gate, some airlines are better about helping with pre-boarding than others, but one young man with Delta in Salt Lake City took it to a whole new level. He met us at the gate, carried the car seat and my carry ons to baggage claim, picked up our bag at baggage claim, then took everything out to the rental car where he installed the car seat and cheerfully packed everything up for me. Needless to say, I gave him an awesome tip! We had such a great vacation in Park City, and that young man started it all, I’ll never forget that’. Karin, USA
‘One that comes to mind was a resort in Anguilla that is no longer open, the Malihouna, I believe. It was an amazing little European boutique hotel. We had our own personal butler who would basically follow us around the resort making sure we were comfortable. One time my husband was out snorkeling with his friend, and his wife and I were waiting for them on the beach. We ordered cocktails, and asked them to bring one for the guys for when they returned. He took a little boat out to them to deliver their cocktails!
I’ve had great experiences also at every Four Seasons we have stayed at, especially the one in Seattle. I was on a girls trip and one of our friends broke her foot right before we left for our trip. She had to use one of those scooters you rest your knee on to get around. The Four Seasons Seattle offered to drive us everywhere. Everywhere. Even outside of their mile radius that the house car was allowed to go. Even to the market literally across the street. They even made sure we had the bigger car so they could put her scooter in the trunk. They were super accommodating and took the stress out of the trip so we could relax and enjoy more.
One more Four Seasons story, this time in Bali. I had an issue with the initial hotel I was staying- the room flooded, and since they were under construction, there was no other room available for me. I was so frustrated, I called the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay and they not only were able to put me up in one of their garden villas which was absolutely stunning for the same room rate, they quoted me a price that included full breakfast in my villa, AND offered to send a car to come pick me up from the hotel I was stuck at!‘ Stefanie, USA
‘I was staying on my own at a hotel in Bali and I was so surprised when I had a fish bowl and a note delivered, so ‘I wouldn’t be lonely’. Such a small touch, but I will never forget it.‘ Fatima, Portugal
‘We arrived last weekend at the Four Seasons Troon North just before noon, and our room wasn’t ready. We were encouraged to go for brunch at the restaurant and they’d text us when it was ready. By the time my husband ordered his second beer, the waiter had identified him as a “beer appreciator” and started pointing out certain ones on the menu, bringing him samplers, and finally brought him a bottle of his own personal favourite, which was no longer on the menu. On the house. It’s the little things that make all the difference‘. Jennifer, USA
Where did you have your magical customer service moment? Leave your comments below!