The Concierge Lounge (CL)--a concept that Marriott pioneered some time ago, in those days of relatively carefree flying and business travel. As I posted earlier today it seems to me that the CL concept is a tad out of date, and that lounges are now little more that limited service restaurants, often more crowded that the real ones in other parts of the hotels.
With that in mind if you could be involved in rethinking the entire CL concept what would you do?
1. Leave it alone?
2. Make minor tweaks?
3. Redesign it from the ground up?
4. Eliminate the whole thing?
I vote for number three and here's why: a concierge lounge should be a place you for assistance, and above that, for a little sustenance. Having a real Concierge, knowledgeable in the local customs, and able to solve problems would be a boon to most of us.
As for food I would concentrate on things we actually would eat, at a time we actually might eat them: breakfast continental style, appetizers in the evening that are healthy and actually good to eat, a selection of beverages appropriate to the day. etc.
I would have a real gate guard, someone who enforces the rules and maintains the sanctity of the place. Overcrowding is now the norm in the CLs I visit.
How would you vote and why?
Agree with you SS, #3 for me for exactly what you stated. I would add with this that families are kept in mind with the redesign. A coupon system or something for those traveling with the primary card holder. Spouse ok, children-coupons for that stay similar to primary card holder( days, week, month, etc).
I am for #3.
Relate to the airport VIP lounges, which used to be a respite while flying. Now they are crowded, almost uncomfortable, and cheapened compared to once they (and the CL) used to be.
Why can't there be someplace special for a companies "Best customers"?
I am concerned that people like me will say, "Travel is not worth it, let's just stay home"!
I was just about to agree with SS and go with #3 when Bill's response arrived. He has a point! Now I am not sure....
Also, I happen to like the airline lounge formula. I don't find the Admirals club overcrowded in the least. I would be thrilled with the same concept in a hotel lounge. Even if it took on the Ritz formula and you needed to pay for it! I don't want children running around in the lounge. I want the lounge to be "special" again.
Change it, keep it the same...not sure it'll matter. Right now, marriott's track record for changing things ranks up there with a snake's belly. But if they kick out the kids of authorized users, they'd be well advised to lock out all of the unauthorized adults who seem to slip in. I've never stayed at a Ritz Carlton and never been in their lounge, but it must be mighty special if they charge extra for it. Now that would be one surefire way of keeping me out. At least with marriott and sheraton, I haven't come across a lounge yet that was worth any extra charge.
Great post, Stepping Stones. I agree with the hesitation surrounding #3. So my vote is a modest #2 - make minor tweaks.
What tweaks? A starting point might be tweaking hours of operation. (do all lounges have to be closed on weekends?) Tweaking food offerings towards the healthy, high fiber, low fat, natural and organic. (Does everything have to be fried?) And, last but not least, restore and tweak Elite access with an eye towards increasing awareness about CL etiquette as well as expanding the scope of Concierge training. I do not think that the Concierge should play security guard or traffic cop but be able to engage guests and obtain their cooperation in observing CL etiquette.
I too would agree with #3, basing it on what SteppingStones suggested as well as models of our favorite Executive Lounges. My top Executive Lounge ever award has to go to the Athens Ledra (which meets all the requirements SteppingStones suggested as well as an incredible and friendly staff).
The level of service and guest recognition at Ritz-Carlton is special. I especially like the late afternoon Manager's Reception that takes place in the Lobby. The complimentary wine selection is superb. The event is unexpectedly welcoming and provides a time to meet and engage management with feedback.
And, if you enjoy a quiet atmosphere with attentive and personalized table service while engaging a client, establishing rapport with a business prospect or interviewing to land an opportunity, the Ritz Concierge Lounge is guaranteed to please and yield the desired results. Genuinely upscale.
Two things are really annoying about the lounges; people think it's a business center and carry on the business, loudly, around their laptops with others or on their cell phones and the fact that I travel quite a bit on weekends and they are closed. No reason to close, ever, in my opinion. The employees that work in the lounges need to keep them orderly and remind people that they are too loud on their phones or when handling their "meetings". That person might get upset but the rest of us will appreciate it.
I find huge differences between them all, so I would say make some tweaks.
Most of them seem to have something you can eat, but some are more into making something decorative instead of edible.
I'd vote for a decent beverage selection, reasonable food, weekend openings and probably NO KIDS.