Ask anyone in the hotel business what the key to success is and “great service” will invariably come up. Thanks to this bromide, newer hotels have started touting other aspects, such as design and curated experiences, to entice jaded travellers through their doors. The Patina, Capitol Singapore is scheduled to open next month, and has these latter qualities as well: designer architecture that fuses marvellously with the charms of a heritage building and superb city location among others, but behind the swish packaging is a spirit of true hospitality.
“Butlers and white gloves are great but they are a little bit old-fashioned. We want to have a lifestyle aspect to our service so that we can also cater to a younger clientele,” shares Patina Hotels & Resorts CEO Marc Dardenne. “But we don’t want to be a W Hotel or a Raffles Hotel. We want to bring the best of both worlds together.”
His extensive experience in the industry, which includes helping to launch the first Armani Hotel in Dubai and developing The Address Hotels and Resorts there, as well as holding key positions in The Ritz-Carlton and Grand Hyatt, has provided him with the inspiration to create The Patina’s “360º Concierge”. Instead of a concierge department, every single employee will be equipped to handle a guest’s enquiries. “Even if you came up to me in the lobby and I didn’t have the information you needed, I would get it from someone who does because I am still responsible for you. You will not be simply handed off at a desk.”
And it’s not just knowledge of tourist attractions, eateries and directions that The Patina employees will be armed with. The hotel takes note of its staff ’s interests and hobbies, so if a guest has a particular interest in tai chi, for instance, there may be an employee in, say, the laundry department who will be able to share more on the topic.
For Dardenne, good service is more than just delivering what customers want. It’s about getting to know them so you can anticipate what they want. “It’s all about the little things that create emotion,” he explains. “It could be a photo frame of the guest’s family placed on the bedside table, remembering their pets’ names and providing treats, and making sure the family’s children are properly catered to, according to their age. A toddler might appreciate milk and cookies but a 14-year-old girl will probably prefer magazines or a makeup kit.” It’s true – the hard hats we were given for a tour of the unfinished hotel even had our names on them.
Suite guests also benefit from The Patina’s 24-hour stay programme, so those that come in on a late flight and check in at 1am can keep the room until 1am the next day. Check-ins can also be done in the room, because standing in line at a front desk “is annoying”. Rather than bending guests to the (sometimes unnatural) atmosphere of a grand hotel, Dardenne simply runs with real human needs.
And said needs have been getting more demanding, as the luxury client evolves with increasingly discerning tastes. “You’re not going to wow people with a Nespresso machine in the room anymore. They are going to ask where it is, if they don’t see one,” he says. “Good, free Wi-Fi is a given, 400-threadcount sheets are a given. Great amenities are a given. When making a call in the hotel, guests will expect someone to pick up after two or three rings. All these things are expected now, so the one thing that will make the difference is service.”