2012's Great Moments In Hotel Customer Service

While many like to bemoan the lack of customer service in the hospitality industry these days, there are still a handful of properties around the globe who know how to do things right.
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While many like to bemoan the lack of customer service in the hospitality industry these days, there are still a handful of properties around the globe who know how to do things right. So before we step into 2013, we look back at some of the hotels that truly wowed the world by going above and beyond the call of duty this past year:

Back in August, the staff at the Fairmont Winnipeg Hotel went the extra mile when they responded to an unusual request from Calgary guest Gord Relph. In town for business, Relph placed a tongue-in-cheek order for a pillow fort and a vanilla Coke -- to his surprise, the hotel complied by providing him with a special do-it-yourself pillow fort kit as well as an array of sweet treats! Relph was so impressed that he posted his experience on several social media sites including Reddit, and from there his story went viral. Just goes to show what a little creativity can do for guest satisfaction!

This Florida luxury resort made headlines several times over the year thanks to its imaginative kid-friendly initiatives. In May, Mercantile Capital Corporation CEO Chris Hurn was so impressed by the service his family received that he blogged about the experience. His remarkable story starts when his son's beloved stuffed giraffe "Joshie" was accidentally left behind at the hotel. Attempting to reassure his distressed little boy, Hurn told him that the giraffe was merely taking an extra-long vacation. When the Ritz-Carlton later called to let Hurn know that Joshie had been found, he asked if they could possibly take a photo of the stuffed animal on a lounge chair by the pool to substantiate his story. The hotel complied -- and then some.

Not only did they return Joshie along with a photo of the toy lounging poolside as requested, but they also included images of the giraffe getting a massage at the spa, making friends with fellow stuffed animals and riding a golf cart. They even issued Joshie with a Ritz-Carlton ID badge, making him an honourary staff member!

Similarly, when five-year-old Ainsley lost her Elmo doll at the resort in October, the Ritz-Carlton came to the rescue and sent back the stuffed toy along with a photo album of his adventures around the resort -- apparently, he worked out at the fitness center and even got to cook with the hotel's chefs!

Overall, this hotel has completely blown us away by its ingenuity and thoughtfulness. And we can bet that these two families will turn out to be life-long Ritz-Carlton customers.

Hurricane Hotel Heroes

While there were certainly reports of hotel price gouging and guest displacement throughout the chaos of Hurricane Sandy, there were nevertheless a slew of properties that handled the disaster with sympathy and kindness. A handful of hotels offered special hurricane discounts, handed out emergency kits and games to help pass the time and even offered to donate a portion of proceeds to the American Red Cross. Our kudos go to those properties that turned the hurricane into an opportunity to help, rather than to make a quick buck.

Family blogger Christina McMenemy (a.k.a A Mommy Story) was so wowed by the service at this Nashville hotel that she made a point of sharing her experience with her readers. Impressed by her hotel room clock radio -- which also doubled as a relaxation sound machine -- the mother of two asked the hotel where she could purchase one. When she was advised that the clock radios were unique to the hotel and weren't available to the public, a disappointed McMenemy figured that was the end of that. However, when she later returned to her room that night, she found her very own clock radio waiting for her along with a handwritten card. As McMenemy puts it, "I would have been happy to pay for one of those clock radios, but the staff at Opryland took notice of just how much I loved this thing and went out of their way to make sure I had the best experience ever... [Opryland] reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service and you've made a lifelong fan out of me."

So there you have it -- a little giving goes a long way!

-- Kristen McKenzie,