What separates a good hotel from a great hotel

I’ve stayed at plenty of luxury hotels that have been underwhelming, and at the same time stayed at many three star hotels that exceeded my expectations. In my opinion the key to “wowing” someone in the hospitality industry is to not only anticipate the basic needs of guests, but also to anticipate their expectations and then exceed them. Those are the stays that end up being most memorable.

I’ve stayed at plenty of five star hotels where my expectations were met and I had a fantastic stay… but they weren’t memorable. At the same time I’ve stayed at some Holiday Inns that were under $100 per night yet I’ll never forget due to the staff going above and beyond.

Yesterday I checked into the Park Hyatt Tokyo, one of those hotels I’ve always wanted to visit, ever since first watching the movie “Lost in Translation.”

The hotel is stunning and service is amazing… but I totally expected that. Here’s what “wowed” me, and what makes this hotel immediately memorable.

I had emailed the hotel a couple of days ago after making my reservation and told them I would be landing at Narita Aiport at 8:35AM, so expected to be at the hotel at around 11AM, and requested early check-in. They said they would do everything in their power to be sure my room is ready.

When I showed up at the hotel not only was my room ready, but when I was escorted to it I found a tray in my room with some danishes, museli, and freshly squeezed mango juice that was still cold. The employee simply said “we knew you had a long flight from Frankfurt, so figured you might enjoy a light breakfast.”

It’s worth noting that this was in addition to the regular Diamond amenity I was given.

Seriously, it’s so minor, but at the same time it forever sold me on this hotel, and at this point there’s no way I can have a bad stay.

If only other hotels put two and two together like this place…

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt
  1. Travel service providers spend so much money on marketing to their current customers they sometimes forget that a little demonstration of thoughtfulness goes such a long way to solidify client relationships and build their brand.

  2. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at this hotel as well. Like you my expectations were exceeded and my stay was an absolute joy. Enjoy your time there.

  3. Completely agree.

    Spent our first anniversary at the Four Seasons Vail (Honeymoon was at FS Firenze, also amazing, letter from GM congratulating us with a great bottle of Prosecco when we arrived), tried to have my wedding cake top shipped to the Hotel overnight for our anniversary dinner (planned for it to show up 2 days early and go in the freezer since we were showing up over holiday weekend). Fedex screwed up so it showed up a day late and completely trashed (but still 1 day before we got there). Their pastry chef re-created the cake top… it was amazing.

    Will be going back there any chance we get.

  4. I stayed at the PH Tokyo in October and was equally wowed. Everyone should experience this level of service at some point in their travels.


  5. Heck, I would love it if hotels would just ask if you wanted to pay extra for a service like that. I would love to have room service waiting after early check-in following an international trip. Doing it on their own is definitely a wow factor.

  6. Thanks for making the rest of us jealous. I just checked into the Four Points Sheraton @ Darling Harbour SYD – one of the last hotels w/rooms under $900/night for NYE – and as a SPG Platinum member I asked, nicely, about a room upgrade to anything w/a Harbour view and the lovely girl at checkin said “You’re lucky you’re getting a room!” I’ll probably remember that too, but not for the right reasons.

  7. This reminds me of checking in at the Park Hyatt Sydney at a little after 8 a.m. in the morning. After being escorted to a room with an incredible view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from one of the balconies, the butler said he hoped we didn’t mind that he took the liberty of arranging some breakfast for us in the room – just fabulous.

  8. They did that for me on a Hyatt Card free night a few months back. Wonderful service, and I wasn’t even a Diamond!

  9. I agree with you. Had the same experience at the pen Bangkok , which was th perfect start to one of the best hotel stays I’ve ever had. It really is the small things that go so far.

  10. This hotel is spectacular. They really know how to do the little things just right for all their guests. I am so glad you are enjoying your stay.

  11. Or, the hotel had you flagged at a travel blogger…and one wildly impressed by food. šŸ˜‰

    Call me cynical.

  12. Completely agree — during a recent stay at the Pattaya Holiday Inn, I had an accident getting into a taxi (off of the hotel premises) that required 16 stitches. The hotel staff treated me as if I was an injured relative, not a guest — they arranged for transportation back and forth to the Dr. at no charge, they brought little gifts every day and they constantly asked me how I was doing. While I attribute much of that to the fantastic nature of the service at Thai hotels in general, they really went above and beyond the call, and will have my loyalty going forward!

  13. @ mark — On second thought I think you’re right. And I suspect they posted all of the comments in the comments section of this post about how great the service is as well. Makes sense.

  14. Stayed at the Park Hyatt Tokyo during my honeymoon. Very possibly my favorite hotel in terms of service. Magnificent! For a hotel with such a legendary reputation for service, it’s hard to live up to it, but this PH definitely does.

  15. Great! but I also wonder whether the fact that you are not quite the “average” customer makes any difference. After all, you are supposed to be one of the top travel blogs, no??? Perhaps you were accorded the VIP treatment.

  16. Lucky, don’t get me wring, but as far as I can gather, you stayed in many “commercial/brand/chain” luxury hotels, not in any of the real independant 5 star hotels that couldnt care less of cards, pounts or other written promises but instead treat you as a king.

  17. Today we moved from the Park Hyatt Vendome to the Hyatt Madeleine. The taxi driver dropped a bag containing our NYE bottle of champagne and broke it. Totally not Hyatt’s fault but they replaced the bottle at no charge. Hyatt Madeleine rocks!

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