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高档酒店套路深,在广场饭店当管家学到的12件事

Bloomberg 2017年10月02日

如果能将贵族式享受与当下对任何需求的即时满足结合起来,会是什么样子?

 
图片来源:视觉中国

广场饭店里一直延续着经典服务:黄铜鸟笼盛放的下午茶,身着燕尾服的礼宾员轻巧地招呼行李送入鎏金套房,大厨们头顶戴着高高的厨师帽。但如今是亚马逊Prime当道的时代,所有人对任何事物都是予取予求。如果能将昔日的贵族式享受与当下对任何需求的即时满足结合起来,会是什么样子?

为了找出准确答案,记者应邀前往纽约著名的广场饭店加入了管家团队,团队里共有10人(其中竟然有一位女性),昼夜不停地在20层的酒店里忙碌,确保282间客房里的客人们享受皇家般待遇。7月最热的两天里,我跟管家团队昼夜不停地奔忙,像这座城市一样仿佛不眠不休。我一边听团队主管艾玛讲述很多工作中遇到的故事,一边跟其他经验丰富的同事们服务客人。

团队成员堪称精英:工作经验加起来达147年,很多曾在世界各地富豪家中担任过管家。我?我加入团队前加急培训了两天,广场饭店也是头一遭聘请经验如此浅的管家。培训中我详细了解了酒店情况,当然还收获一套酒店制服(包括烫金名牌之类全套装备)。

我虽然待的时间不长,但也经历了不少,期间曾向中东王子提供送洗服务,从许愿池里捞龙虾,还津津有味地听同事们讲工作中遇到的囧事,类似临时帮客人买伟哥,安慰因为蓝莓打翻哭个不停的女客人。听起来侍奉有钱人和名人就像进入了另一个平行宇宙,充满了各种荒诞,我听得经常眼都不眨。这还只是开始。

下次你再去住五星级酒店,记住以下12个秘密。

有一种VIP名单,估计你上了比不上后悔

每个班次里,管家们都要面对成百上千的需求,大多都是往冰桶里加冰,处理脏衣服以及擦鞋之类。附赠的打包和拆包整理需求也很常见,这种任务一来就能忙上一整天。可能很难想象,很多外国客人经常会订下相邻两个套房,一个用来睡觉,另一个用来放行李。从公司经营理念来看,广场饭店每位客人都应该感觉到自己是VIP,但实际上还是有等级的。金字塔顶端当然是国王、王后和国家元首们,管家们通常称之为V1,这类客人常年会有。第二类就是出手阔绰的,经常长住的,一次预定很多房间的,还有名人。这类客人叫尊贵访客,简称DV。VIP名单里的底层是爱投诉的,难伺候的,还有经常要“特殊协助”的过分要求客人,简称SA群体。

洗浴时间有时很尴尬

管家团队经常会遇到放洗澡水的要求,得精心准备浴盐、按摩油和玫瑰花瓣,冷天里需求会更多一些。但洗澡水准备好并不一定意味着任务完成,巴勒是广场饭店洗浴服务专家,他说工作时95%情况下客人入浴后得站在身边候着。大部分客人会要求加热水或取熏香油,所以喜欢裸着身子泡澡时身边有人随时使唤。等客人洗完澡,他经常还得埋头打开浴缸塞子放掉剩下的脏水。

这还不算最奇怪。之前在伦敦有位管家同事收到客人指令,要在浴缸里摆满生蚝。于是他忙前忙后在浴缸里塞满了冰,上面铺上生蚝,最后才发现客人只是需要洗澡时能光着身子随手吃到生蚝而已。最后客人还是满意了,因为他订下了隔壁房间给自己的管家,以便随时服务。

住店客人的心思其实挺好猜……

广场饭店的客人关系小组会仔细研究每位住店客人,通过各种社交媒体(最喜欢领英)了解得事无巨细。另一方面,管家团队通常根据过往经验现场判断客人情况。如果来的是亚洲客人,他们会送上电热水壶供煮面使用,因为亚洲客人经常会自己带方便面。如果是三四十岁的美国客人,就要留心盯着房间迷你酒吧里的饮料,因为美国客人是公认的派对分子,很有可能一饮而空。中东VIP则会受到“阿拉伯式款待”——送上放满枣,干果和坚果的盘子。中东客人很喜欢这些,对巧克力、蛋糕和其他甜点没什么兴趣。如果是西方商人,入住时管家们会立刻询问有没有衬衫和西装需要清理,因为这类客人送洗衣服的数量通常最多。

客人们也有出人意料的时候

虽然客人行为通常有规律,但有时连最有经验的管家也会搞不懂。我当班时就碰到过,当时酒店内庭喷泉里总是有龙虾壳出现。每天酒店员工都要捞出来,但没过几个小时又会有新的。后来才发现一位中东王子每顿饭都在房间里点龙虾,吃完的龙虾壳总是随手扔出窗外,正好落入喷泉里。(艾玛礼貌地提醒他别再扔了,可惜的是我们终于发现谜底那天他也要离店了。)

还有一次,有位女性客人把艾玛叫过去歇斯底里地哭,“就好像丈夫去世了,她刚刚发现尸体一样”。艾玛费了好大劲安抚她之后才发现,客人大哭的原因是房间里的面巾纸用完了,她女儿得用厕纸擤鼻涕。

性、毒品还要……又来啦?

每家酒店里都会遇到客人要毒品或招妓的情况,只是不会很经常。巴勒在广场饭店十年,只遇到过两三次客人要毒品,每次他都严格遵守法律规定拒绝了。要避孕套的情况则比较多,另一位管家穆赫辛就总是随身带一盒,尤其是晚上。有一次大半夜有客人要避孕套,他敲了几次门也没人应,后来他轻轻走进房间发现两位客人缠绵正酣,丝毫不担心被撞见。

比起性和毒品,有时客人还有更稀奇古怪的要求。最近就有位女性客人让艾玛帮着找从窗台上掉下去的巧克力裹蓝莓。艾玛提出换相同甜品店相同品牌的巧克力裹蓝莓,但客人坚决要求找回原来那份。后来艾玛跟安保团队在酒店内庭找了好几个小时也没找到。我短暂工作期间,最奇怪的要求是两升静脉注射生理盐水,因为一位医生的妻子很可能宿醉喝大,最后生病了。

有些需求更古怪。有个管家说有次客人要求把房间所有家具换了,只因为客人不喜欢蓝色。还有客人要求管家去城市圣物宝盒找一件代表正义的和平奖杯,奖给一位新晋律师。还有客人要求从非洲空运活狼蛛做菜吃。当然了,要求再荒谬管家们都是毫不迟疑立刻去办。

注意枕套

广场饭店里丢枕套的事太多了。但并不是因为游客手脚不干净,也不是有人故意偷枕套。每周至少发生一次客人自己带来的枕套跟酒店枕套弄混,结果把客人带来的枕套送洗的情况。有时彻底找不到,这时不管花多少钱,艾玛也得会派礼宾员买新的,费用酒店承担。

圣诞节:不怎么快乐

“派对季”通常从10月持续到12月,感觉几乎每天晚上都有四到五个客人要求帮忙打领带或者穿上鸡尾酒会礼服。过去几年里,要求房间里添加节日装饰的客人越来越多,现在酒店会提供标准圣诞套餐,价格500美元,其中包括在房间里放上管家们亲手装饰的崭新圣诞树。

客人并不是永远正确

客人投诉也有些规律。每天都会有客人投诉洗衣服务太慢。虽然洗衣单上已经清楚写明标准和预计完成时间,但对某些人来说就是不够快。迷你酒吧收费也是经常起争议的地方。在广场饭店,如果把迷你酒吧里的酒水喝光要支付600美元,每周至少会出现一次,几乎每次客人都不太想付钱。

这就要求管家们事先用卡片相机拍下所有细节,不管是房间里到处扔的酒瓶,还是送洗前衣物上就有的污渍,还有家具受损的证据。每张单据都会经过电脑验证并附上照片,当旅行网站TripAdvisor.com上出现愤怒评论时,管家们就能提供充分的证据反驳不实指控。

如何登上被拒绝服务名单

比你想象中容易得多。酒店有严格的反歧视政策,对因种族、性别、年龄或信仰虐待员工的客人一律零容忍。直到现在还有些客人会提出要求,禁止某些种族的员工进入房间提供服务;有些客人会询问服务人员是否美国合法居民。管家团队主管艾玛都遇到过性别歧视,有次客人生气了要找经理投诉,看到她出现后火气更大。

拒绝服务的情形在各级客人中都会出现,一直可达DV级别。至少有两位名人是广场饭店永久拒绝服务的,一位是流行女歌手,原因是过量吸毒和酗酒,并且故意挑衅员工;另一位是硅谷明星,因为控制不住情绪损坏了房间设施,价值跟一间套房差不多。

剩下的下午茶从不会浪费

广场饭店后面走廊和通道里有一处秘密所在,是员工专用的咖啡厅。每天午餐、晚餐和深夜会提供热餐食(味道非常好!)。餐厅里全天供应百吉饼和饮料,只要饿了就可以去吃。不过最懂行的会在下午5:30整去餐厅,因为这个时间正好供应楼上棕榈餐厅下午茶剩下的食物,供员工享用。(供应的都是做好还没摆盘的。)艾玛说她最爱迷你黄瓜三明治。我最喜欢的是小蓝莓芝士蛋糕。

慷慨的小费总是让人开心

纽约市酒店员工受到一系列工会保护。礼宾员和客房服务人员都是“可接受小费的员工”,通常来说除了酒店工资,管家们没有额外小费。不过巴勒和同事们还是经常收到一些小费。

过去十年里他收过最大一笔小费是多少?来自一位法国模特兼演员,当时她想跟男朋友,也是位著名时尚达人共渡一个浪漫的周末。巴勒把房间里所有桌上台上摆满鲜花,安排了在中央公园上空的直升机里享用午餐,还费尽心思从外地专卖酒庄找到一瓶非常昂贵的特有红酒。周末结束后,法国女演员付给他8000美元现金当小费。

几个月后,那个时尚达人,也是时尚品牌创始人又来到酒店,只是换了个女朋友。

怎样才算服务到家

广场饭店里有一间贝奇·约翰逊设计的套房,专门为了纪念曾在此住过的六岁的虚构人物埃罗依。正是在这间套房里,另一位管家同事尼莫提供了此生最古怪的服务。客人要求酒店派人过去朗读喜欢的儿童读物当睡前故事,但尼莫进了房间才发现根本没有孩子,而是四个三十多岁的成年人挤在一张大床上。尼莫强忍住震惊,坚持给四人读了90分钟的睡前故事,为免客人不尽兴还播放了埃罗依的视频。(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

审稿:夏林

Old-school service is alive and well at the Plaza: High tea treats are served in brass birdcages, tuxedo-clad bellman whisk away luggage to gilded suites, and chefs bear toques that tower above their heads. But in the age of Amazon Prime—when we all want everything now—what is it really like blending vestigial aristocratic assistance with light-speed wish fulfillment?

In order to properly find out, I accepted an offer from New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel to join its team of butlers, a coterie of 10 servicemen (and one woman!) who trot around the property’s 20 floors day and night, making sure 282 rooms’ worth of guests feel like royalty. For two hot days in July, I raced around with a team that, like the city itself, seemingly never sleeps—hearing tales of the trade from the department’s director, Emma, and serving guests alongside some of her most experienced staffers.

This is an elite crew: It bears a combined 147 years of experience, and many have served as house managers for affluent families all over the world. Me? I got express credentials for my two-day residency—unprecedented for the Plaza. They included a detailed orientation of the property and a uniform fitting for my hotel-issued attire (gold-plated name tag and all).

Over my short tenure, I delivered laundry to Middle Eastern princesses and fetched lobsters out of wishing wells—and listened to colleagues delight in the oddities of their jobs, from fielding requests for Viagra or comforting a weeping woman over spilled blueberries. Serving the world’s rich and famous, it turns out, plumbs the depths of an alternative universe that readily embraces the absurd without even batting an eye. And that was only the beginning of what I learned.

Here, 12 secrets to keep in mind the next time you check into a five-star hotel.

One VIP List You Don’t Want to Be On

Hundreds of butler requests roll in each shift—mostly to fill ice buckets, handle laundry, and shine shoes. Complimentary packing and unpacking requests are also common, though they can turn into day-long affairs. A surprising number of international guests will purchase adjoining suites: one to sleep in and one for their luggage.

By matter of corporate philosophy, every guest should feel like a VIP at the Plaza. But a hierarchy still exists among those who check-in at reception. At the top of the pyramid are kings, queens, and heads of state—or as butlers call them: V1s, and they are ever-present on the property.) Then come high-payers, long-stayers, guests booking a large block of rooms, and recognizable celebs. They’re called DVs, or distinguished visitors. On the bottom of the VIP totem pole is the SA group, known complainers or otherwise difficult and demanding guests who require “special assistance.”

Bath Time Can Be Awkward

Another common request for the butler team is to draw baths with a signature blend of salt, oil, and roses—especially during the colder months of the year. But the butler’s duties aren’t necessarily complete once the tub is full. Bal, the Plaza’s resident bath-time specialist, said that 95 percent of the time, he’s asked to remain within arm’s reach as bathers suds-up. Most of them, he said, want more hot water or scented oil, and are happy to keep him on hand while they relax in the nude. He is often left to pull the plug from the drain, elbow-deep in leftover water.

It gets weirder. One of my butler colleagues at a previous job in London was asked to ship in and set up a guest’s order of fresh oysters in the bathtub. He diligently filled the tub with ice and laid the oysters out, only to discover that the guest wanted the oysters placed in the tub around his soaking body. Eventually, the client seemed satisfied: He purchased the room next door for his butler so he’d always be near.

Hotel Guests Are Pretty Predictable …

The Plaza’s guest relations team researches everyone staying at the hotel on an individual basis, using a variety of social media tools. (The favorite is LinkedIn.com.) Butlers, on the other hand, often use past trends to size people up on the spot. They send electric kettles to the rooms of arriving Asian guests, who often bring noodles from home to cook in their suite. They keep an eye on the minibar when tending to Americans in their thirties and forties—they’re considered the partiers of the hotel, likeliest to plow through the booze. Middle Eastern VIPs get what is called an “Arabic Amenity”—a tray of dates, dried fruit, and nuts; they tend to prefer these to chocolates, cakes, or other sweet desserts. And the butler staff knows to immediately ask Western businessmen if they have shirts or suits that needs servicing upon checking in; they’re always the ones who treble the quantity of laundry in the basement.

… Except When They’re Totally Unpredictable

Despite the overwhelming regularity of guest behaviors, travelers can mystify even the most experienced of butlers. During my shifts, lobster shells kept appearing in the fountains of the hotel’s interior courtyard. Every day, the staff would fish them out, only to find a new one a few hours later. It turned out that a Middle Eastern prince was ordering cooked lobster from room service for every meal and then throwing the empty shells out the window to land in a fountain below. (Emma asked him to stop—nicely—but pieced together the mystery only on the day of his departure.)

Another time, a woman called Emma hysterically crying “as though her husband died and she just discovered the body.” When Emma finally calmed her down, she comprehended the real reason for the guest’s tears: There was no more Kleenex in her suite, and her young daughter had been forced to blow her nose on toilet paper.

Sex, Drugs and … Come Again?

As at any hotel, requests for drugs and prostitutes do happen—but not frequently. Bal has been asked for drugs only two or three times in his 10 years at the Plaza, and he is careful to stick within the boundaries of the law. Condom needs are another story: Mouhsine, one of the other butlers, always carries a pack with him, especially in the evenings. On being called to fulfill one such late-night request, no one answered the door after several knocks; he gently entered the room to find the two guests in the “go” position, waiting to be walked-in on.

Far more interesting than sex and drugs are the more outlandish client requests. Recently, Emma fielded a service call from a woman searching for some missing chocolate-covered blueberries, which had fallen off a window ledge. Emma offered to obtain replacements from the same brand and store, but the guest was adamant about retrieving her exact snack. Emma and the security team trawled the hotel’s interior courtyard for hours, blueberry-hunting, to no avail. During my brief tenure, the weirdest request was for two liters of intravenous saline solution—meant for a doctor’s ailing wife, who was presumably on the wrong side of a stunning hangover.

Some requests are even more bizarre. One butler told the story of how he was asked to replace all the furniture in a suite because the guest didn’t like the color blue. Another was sent off to scout the city’s reliquaries for a justice of the peace trophy—a prize for a newly minted lawyer. Another arranged for a live tarantula flown in from Africa to be served as a meal. Of course, butlers always deliver with a straight face.

Mind the Pillowcases

Missing pillowcases can be a real issue at the Plaza. But it’s not the tourists that have sticky fingers. And it’s not hotel pillowcases that are getting stolen. At least once a week, a white pillowcase that was brought from a guest’s home gets mistaken for a hotel-issued version and is sent out for cleaning. Sometimes they’re never seen again, in which case Emma dispatches a bellman to purchase new coverings, drawing on the hotel’s coffers, no matter the price.

Christmastime: Not so Merry

“Party season,” which spans October to December, feels like a constant carousel of functions, banquets, and events at the Plaza. Every evening, there are four or five requests for assistance at looping bow ties and zipping up cocktail dresses. And in the last few years, requests for holiday-themed decorations in the rooms have become so commonplace that the hotel now offers a standard Christmas package that includes a fresh, fully decorated tree, assembled by the butlers pre-check-in for $500.

The Customer Is Not Always Right

Complaints follow regular patterns. Every day, a guest will complain about too-slow laundry service. Though forms clearly offer standard and expedited return times, they’re not fast enough for some.Minibar charges also lead to regular disputes. A full raid of your room’s bar runs $600 at the Plaza—something that happens at least once a week. The likelihood that guests will not want to pay is almost guaranteed.

This requires butlers to document everything with pocket cameras, whether it’s open booze bottles spread across the room, stains on laundry that existed before washing, or evidence of damaged furniture. Every ticket is verified on a computer and photos are attached, so when TripAdvisor.com lights up with a fiery review, the butlers are able to provide evidence to dispel any falsehoods.

The Easiest Way to Get Banned

It’s a lot easier than you might think. The hotel has a strict anti-discrimination policy, and zero tolerance is given to guests who mistreat the staff because of race, gender, age, or creed. Even now, guests sometimes request that staff of a certain ethnic extraction not be allowed to service their rooms; others will ask service members if they are legal in America. Emma, the director of the butler team, cited several incidents of sexism, too, such as the time guests asked to speak with a manager but grew angrier when she showed up instead of a man.

The refusal of services goes all the way up the ladder to DVs. At least two specific celebrities are permanently banned from the Plaza—one, a pop diva expelled for excessive drug and alcohol use and a belligerent attitude towards the staff, the other a sitcom star who took his anger issues out on a suite’s worth of furnishings.

Afternoon Tea Leftovers Don’t Go to Waste

Hidden within the Plaza’s secret back-of-house corridors and tunnels is a cafeteria reserved for the staff. Open during lunch, dinner, and late-night hours for (surprisingly good!) hot meal service, the canteen offers bagels and drinks for the peckish throughout the entirety of the day. But the savviest snackers know to visit the cafeteria at exactly 5:30 p.m., because that’s when the leftovers from high tea at the Palm Court upstairs are put out for the staff. (They serve only the food that was prepped but not plated.) Emma said she practically lives off mini cucumber sandwiches. I liked the tiny blueberry cheesecakes.

A Good Tip Can Make It Worthwhile

New York City’s hospitality workers are protected under a spectrum of different unions. While bellmen and room service are considered “tipping staff,” the butlers do not expect fiscal rewards for their work, beyond the Plaza’s paycheck. But Bal and his colleagues still see a few ex-presidents from time to time.

His biggest tip during the last 10 years? It came from a French model-actress keen on setting up a romantic weekend for her boyfriend, a well-known fashion magnate. Bal placed flowers on every flat surface throughout their suite, organized lunch in a helicopter over Central Park, and tracked down a very specific, very expensive bottle from a specialist store off-site. By the end of the weekend, she handed him $8,000 in cash.

Seven months later, the founder of the fashion label was back at the hotel with a different girlfriend.

When to Call It a Night

The Plaza maintains a Betsey Johnson-designed suite in honor of Eloise, the capricious six-year-old that fictionally lived on the property. It was here that Nimer, another member of the butler team, had his most bizarre service experience to date. A request was put in for someone to come up and read the beloved children’s book as a bedtime story, but when Nimer arrived there were no children to be found. Four thirtysomethings were neatly tucked into one, large bed. Concealing his shock, Nimer read to them for 90 minutes—then tracked down Eloise on video, in case they hadn’t had enough.

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