Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 55

interview: richard baker
By Stacy Shoemaker Rauen

perspectives

the ultimate concierge
Richard Baker knows luxury. From rising through the ranks at Four Seasons to becoming a regional vice president with Rosewood, and now as Mandarin Oriental’s executive vice president, operations director for the Americas, he has worked with some of the best. With a Paris opening on the horizon, we decided to pick his brain on what luxury means for hotels today. Here, he talks about organizing elephant rides in Chiang Mai, why luxury became obscene, and going back to the basics. HD: What did you learn working at Rosewood and Four Seasons? RB: Having the ability to be on the line with servicing our guests and exceeding their expectations was so important, and when you have that opportunity through multiple cultures—different cities, hotels, countries—it helps you understand the basic of service delivery and understanding the guest expectations. I think as you grow in your career and you ultimately have the opportunity to be in senior leadership and influence part of the culture and experience of guests, you ultimately go back to that foundation. It is fairly simple what we do, and yet it has a lot of moving parts—great sleep, food and beverage experience, and cultural experiences for each city. More and more luxury hotels are expected to help guests put together their experiences in the city [they are in]. Mandarin is very much a part of the fabric of that culture within that destination. It may be elephant rides in Chiang Mai, or the night market in Bangkok, or great theater in New York with a backstage pass. We are really helping our guests experience the environment they are in. HD: With the economy, the definition of luxury has changed. How would you define it today? RB: The word luxury more today than ever crosses all kinds of boundaries into different levels of service or products. Luxury before the crisis became almost obscene. Everyone wanted to tag the word luxury onto everything they did. And there is a lot more to it than that. It was way overused and it was used for things it wasn’t meant to be used for. So I think now that we have to go back to the basics. Luxury in my opinion it’s discreet, it’s elegant, and not bling bling. I think luxury is about refinement, innovation, certainly not about price—you can get luxury experiences at relatively different price markets around the world, and the service experience. HD: Have guests been asking for anything more? RB: It is interesting, everyone in our industry thinks guests want more for less—the third night free or free breakfast—and that gets obscene after awhile. Mandarin guests don’t come to us for a third night free. They really connect with our brand because of our ability to understand them in the destination they are going to and helping them connect to that. Our employee culture is so important because they are ultimately the ones who influence our guests and sharp when they come to work, so they have designer clothing [by] local designers. We provide amazing amenities—between extended education and the colleague dining area, and helping them and their family experience other Mandarins. And then certainly a detailed training experience that is very unique and different than other brands. It is really about the colleague experiencing what the guests are experiencing. It is so important in our industry to have secret spotters come in and tell us how we are doing. We think it is also important that the colleagues understand what the guest experience is—the other way around. We put them in training environments HD: What are your secrets to building the right team? RB: We start with the basics with our staff. They have to feel deliver the service and meet the that needs of our guests. and knowing Having that rapport connection, the guests’ names, knowing ahead of time their personal situation, and making sure we connect with them throughout the year. Our global guest database has become so powerful to us. We know if a guest who has stayed in New York is traveling to Bangkok or perhaps to London. We know what their experiences were in the other hotel. We are able to take that information and create these very unique experiences for them and they are just blown away by the recognition.

Above: A rendering of the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental, Paris set to open this summer.

www.hospitalitydesign.com

March 2011

55


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - March 2011

Hospitality Design - March 2011
Contents
Online Contents
From the Editor
From the Show Director
People: CitySCENE Atlanta
People: ALIS
Sketchbook
Interview: Richard Baker of Mandarin
Interview: Dave Horton of Hilton
Profile
HD Expo Preview
Luxury
Waikiki Edition
Ani Villas
Fairmont Nile City
The Chatwal
Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live
Soho Beach House Miami
Waku Ghin
Lincoln
Vesu
Back Space
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Intro
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Hospitality Design - March 2011
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 1
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 2
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 3
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 4
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 5
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 6
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 7
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 8
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 9
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 10
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 11
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 12
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 13
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 14
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Contents
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 16
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Online Contents
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 18
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 19
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 20
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 21
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - From the Editor
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 23
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - From the Show Director
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 25
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 26
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 27
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 28
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 29
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - People: CitySCENE Atlanta
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 31
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 32
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 33
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - People: ALIS
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 35
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 36
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 37
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 38
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 39
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 40
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 41
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 42
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 43
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 44
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Sketchbook
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 46
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 47
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 48
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 49
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 50
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 51
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 52
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 53
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 54
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Interview: Richard Baker of Mandarin
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 56
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 57
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 58
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 59
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Interview: Dave Horton of Hilton
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 61
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 62
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 63
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 64
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 65
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 66
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 67
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 68
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Profile
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 70
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 71
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 72
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - HD Expo Preview
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 74
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 75
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 76
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 77
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 78
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 79
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 80
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 81
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 82
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Luxury
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 84
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 85
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 86
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 87
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 88
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 89
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 90
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 91
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 92
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 93
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Waikiki Edition
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 95
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 96
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 97
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 98
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 99
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Ani Villas
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 101
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 102
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 103
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Fairmont Nile City
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 105
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 106
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 107
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - The Chatwal
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 109
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 110
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 111
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 113
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 114
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 115
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Soho Beach House Miami
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 117
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 118
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 119
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Waku Ghin
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 121
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 122
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 123
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Lincoln
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 125
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 126
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 127
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Vesu
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 129
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 130
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 131
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 132
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 133
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 134
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - 135
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Back Space
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Cover3
Hospitality Design - March 2011 - Cover4
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