Hyatt Hotels’ Andaz brand isn’t the first—and most definitely won’t be the last—brand launched with service as the centerpiece of its mission statement. Many hotel brands focus on customer service to some extent, and most of them earn passing grades.
However, when it comes to customer service, it’s guest satisfaction that is the ultimate measuring stick. The recipe is quite simple: If you deliver the service that your guests expect, you will earn their allegiance.
At New York’s Andaz Wall Street, which will be the third Andaz property open when it officially welcomes guests Monday, the service begins when you walk in the front door. It’s really the coolest brand standard of all when you are greeted by a roaming front-desk clerk with a netbook-sized wireless device to check you in.
“The vision hasn’t changed; Andaz equals personal style,” said Steve Haggerty, Hyatt’s global head of real estate and development. “It offers more personal engagement between the associates and the guest. How one executes is what we’ve learned as the properties have opened.
A rotating column that holds a closet, among other things, is a highlight of the guestroom.
“Without a question, the focus of any of our hotels is on associate engagement,” he said. “It’s something we measure proactively.”
What was a little unnerving to me was having that same associate lead me to the guest quarters. It’s really no different than a bellman helping you with your luggage, but it had a different feel. I can’t say I didn’t like it … it’s just different.
John Wallis, Hyatt’s global head of marketing and brand strategy, said the company looked no further than its conversion of the AmeriSuites brand into the Hyatt Place brand when it began Andaz’s quest for high-level customer service.
“We learned a lot in figuring out what to do with AmeriSuites and coming up with Hyatt Place,” Wallis said. “It was a category killer, fresh and new.
“We listened to what the customers said to us then, and we followed much of the same process when we started discussing what we wanted to do to be a part of this niche.”
So, what did the research say?
“Our research told us loud and clear there’s a large population out there that wants to stay in independent hotels, but at the same time they want the advantages of a large brand,” Wallis said. “They want design and interaction between customer and employee.”
Designed to serve
The design of Andaz has some unique elements. The lack of a front desk is a definite plus. There’s an island that the welcome associates use as a point of reference, but the fact that they are moving about the lobby interacting with guests gives the lobby a vibrant feeling.
“Once you take away a reception desk, it really means the welcome you can receive is much more friendly,” Wallis said. “We enable a proper eye-to-eye contact interaction at check-in.”
The other cool design feature of the Andaz is in the guestroom—a rotating column houses a refreshment area, a closet and a full-length mirror. What a great space saver, and it makes everything you need convenient at your finger tips.
However, a nit-picky traveler could pick up on the fact that the high ceilings and a lack of carpet (there is but one area rug; the rest of the flooring appears to be wood laminate and tile in the bathroom) creates an echo effect that can be slightly annoying. But speaking of the bathroom, a spacious, spectacular shower demonstrates the thought that went into maximizing the guest experience.
And back in the public space, the brand is focusing on a quality beverage-and-food experience. The Andaz Wall Street has a few B&F
outlets, including the Wall & Water restaurant (the hotel also happens to be located at the intersection of Wall and Water streets). I really liked the bakery ovens located in a corner of the lobby. There’s something about smelling complimentary baked goods as they are baking that satisfies a craving.
|The Wall & Water is an example of Andaz Wall Street's commitment to quality beverage-and-food outlets.
“Part of what we’re developing is bar/restaurants as opposed to restaurants with a bar, Wallis said. “We’re figuring out the next stage in that evolution. … Being passionate hoteliers, we’re in the business of food in addition to the business of rooms.”
Not all Andaz properties will be the same. Wall & Water wouldn’t work at the West Hollywood Andaz or the soon-to-open Andaz San Diego. It’s good that Hyatt isn’t approaching this brand with a cookie cutter. The world doesn’t need any more hotel designs that come straight from a box.
The Andaz Wall Street is bringing some refinement to Lower Manhattan, which was devastated by the 9/11 disaster. A Regent hotel located in the nearby former Custom House Building came and went quickly in the wake of 9/11. That hotel featuring a spectacular ballroom and 195 guestrooms was ahead of its time. Now, the 253-room Andaz Wall Street is staking its claim.