January 18, 2010

Trishna, Mumbai…a rage among seafood-loving folks

Filed under: Food & Beverage, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — PEr @ 8:37 am

Trishna, one of only a few exclusive seafood restaurants in Mumbai, continues to be a rage among the seafood-loving folks of the city.

The menu is typical of any sea food restaurant. A varied offering in Indian sea food across fish, crabs, lobster and squids. The squids cooked with butter, garlic and pepper were delicious. the pomfret with black pepper was superb. The king prawns tandoori was amazing. I’ve now run out of superlatives to describe the rawa fish.

It is a somewhat snobbish restaurant. Trishna isn’t about ambience (the seats and tables are packed together to create a seafood experience for the diners – sardines) – everyone is here for the food. 

I bet you’ve heard the groan-worthy pun that goes “I’m on a seafood diet … I see food and I eat it!” But, jokes aside, whatever food I see (on my table or those on the tables around me) in Trishna, I’d needed the help of my two colleagues and 20 wild horses to stop me from pouncing on them….that is the true truth. I only say it as it is.

January 17, 2010

The tipping point at The Grand New Delhi Hotel

It is customary to tip service providers at hotels in India. You can tip the bellman, the room service in-charge and the person who brings you food in the room. Giving Rs.20-50 is ideal. However, the staff of The Grand New Delhi Hotel take “asking for a tip” to a new art level.

I stayed in the hotel in Delhi for 2 nights with 4 other colleagues. We all had the same experience. The bloke who brings in your stuff to fill up your minibar (one wonders why they don’t fill it up BEFORE we checked in as is the practice of most hotels) keeps going on about “I have filled up your minibar,” “I have finished,” “I’ll be leaving” without moving a single muscle in his body to leave the room. Another colleague had a problem with his room key card and requested a housekeeping staff nearby to help him get into his room. Upon doing so, the housekeeping staff took three eternities to leave the room, while waiting for a you-know-what. Long story short, every encounter we had with a hotel staff in our room waas the same. We figured it must be some kind of effective training program the hotel put the staff through. They were so competent…waiting for their tips.

We are natural born tippers who wouldn’t hesitate to leave 10-15% for good services rendered. But for helping a guest get into his room when the key card didn’t work (it’s the hotel’s mistake) and filling up the minibar (when the minibar is supposed to have been filled)??? At the rate they were going, it made me wonder if I should start tipping my everyone who does anything for me, including my mother. Perhaps I should tip the postman for delivering my mails. Should I tip the guy who signs my paycheck?

Tipping aside, the hotel is a stunner. Great spacious lobby, a sprawling landscape, nice rooms with even nicer beds and a fantastic wonderful set of staff in the restaurant. They were so attentive, cheerful, accommodating. The chef and kitchen staff were great too. I’d requested a dosa (thosei) made in a way they are not accustomed to, but they produced it and did a fine job with it too.

Location wise, the hotel is located within a whisker of the DLF Promenade which houses designed boutiques like LV, Gucci, etc great food outlets like Zest, Smokehouse Deli, HRC, Italia  and leisure outlets like cinemas.

Stay at this hotel but don’t get pressured beyond the tipping point. This is certainly the true truth as I am still saying it as it is.

January 5, 2010

Tokyo Disney Resort…monster queues

I’ve never queued so much before in my life…until I got to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. If queuing was an Olympic sport, I would have been a Gold medalist.

3 hours 20 minute for the new Monster Inc ride. I thought I’d have to tell my son that he will be a deceased old man by the time he gets on the actual ride. The ride was not worth it. Not worth it at all. What gets me is, I waited in line for 200 minutes to do this.

Monster queue at Monsters Inc

There are queues to buy popcorn. Queues for every ride and attractions. Queues to even get into the park. Seriously, I queued for 1 hour 20 minutes just to get into the park in the morning. Half the population of Tokyo must be here. I was told by a friend that we have to be smart to pick the best time to go to Disney resort in Tokyo. I think the best time is 1962.

Not that I am complaining.  You can’t have a bad time at Disney resort.

Everywhere, cheerful uniformed employees will offer you any information about the park, such as where the rides are, where the popcorn kiosks are and where the restrooms are. The food are actually pretty good, and we tried Captain Hook’s galley, Cape Cod Cook Off, Center Street Coffeehouse, Great American Waffle company and Restaurant Sakura. The Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull ride was awesome as was the night illumination parade.

Disney is still truly The Magic Kingdom, even in this age of Playstation and WII. I tell the true truth and am still saying it as it is…

January 2, 2010

Hotel Dream Gate Maihama Tokyo…their people are the source of their competitive advantage

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 1:17 am

The 4th Commandment of Customer Service is “when the customer asks, the answer is always yes.” This is the way of life for the front liners I had the good fortune to meet at this hotel which is located within 10 minutes walk from Tokyo Disneyland.

The last time I checked the dictionary for the definition of exceptional service, the answers I got were Honda Mariko and Iitsuka Miho. These two ladies were incredibly resourceful in helping me when I told them I needed an adapter as I’d lost mine and that I’d needed to charge my camcorder, camera and blackberry. They took ownership of the situation and tried a series of solutions but in vain. Finally, near midnight, Honda-san took it upon herself to walk to a nearby hotel to borrow one for me….in the cold of the Japanese winter.

Would I want to stay at this hotel again? Would I recommend a friend to stay there? The answer to both question is I certainly would again and again and again.

It is said, that every firm has access to the same sources of capital; product innovations can be copied overnight; and whatever cutting-edge technology we need is available right off the shelf. That leaves our people, and the service they provide, as our source of competitive advantage. Any HR managers out there looking to hire good, smart, “want to” people who truly want to be in the service industry and, even more important, truly want to take care of customers, go ahead and hire these two outstanding ladies….you know you can count of this because this is the true truth and I always say it as it is.

Citadines Tokyo Shinjuku…overpromise, under-deliver

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — PEr @ 12:50 am

“Each of our Apart’hotels offers you a menu of flexible services to choose from, so you can create the stay experience you desire” And so the brand promise of Citadines goes.

I guess someone at the corporate office forgot to relay the brand promise to the front liners at Citadines Tokyo Shinjuku.

We booked and pre-paid for a triple room and we got one with three beds, 2 towels, 2 sets of amenities, etc. When we called for an additional set, we were told to “come down to reception to pick them up.” On our return visit (we checked out for a night to stay at Hakone/Mt Fuji), we had a room with three beds, three sets of amenities, 3 towels but 2 bottles of water. At 10pm, after an exhausting trip from Hakone, upon calling the front office for another bottle of water, I was told  to “come down and get it yourself.”

If this was a moment of truth in terms of service touchpoint, I am no wiser what Citadines’ flexible service promise is. I am led to believe it’s just a typo which was meant to be self service….after all, I always say it as it is.

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