By David Lund
The Stow has always been a great hotel. Sitting high on the hill overlooking the river its bones and lines are completely classic. The 505 rooms all have a view of something great. For decades, the hotel had been the home away from home for the elite of the world. Rock stars, heads of state, actors, CEOs, you name it and they came, stayed and came back. Managing the hotel was a dream job. I never thought I would have the opportunity to be the general manager of such a fine lady. We call them ladies because they are gentle and beautiful and just a little complicated. Not that I’m any easier.
My name is Oliver and I have been the general manager of the Stow for almost five years. I have been in the hotel business for 25 years, all my adult life. I take great pride in my vocation. I have the reputation for being on top of things and people. You might say I’m a hard ass. That’s OK, it works, and the results prove it. I know a thing or two about our business and my job is to be the one who gets the rest of the staff all moving in the right direction. Don’t think for a moment that anyone can do this. With more than 700 full time staff it’s a big job that requires discipline and rigor.
The current owner of the hotel is a Wall Street billionaire who purchased the hotel two years ago as a monument to his immortality. He is a frequent visitor who takes an active role in his little pet project. I don’t really like his meddling with things. Sometimes I hear he has been on property and I don’t even know until after he is gone. Strolling the lobby, walking the gardens, enjoying a cocktail.
He just shows up and that bothers me a lot. Cedrick is the thorn in my backside. I don’t let him know how I feel. I keep it to myself. When he interacts with the staff and I hear second hand what great ideas come up I want to throw up in my mouth. Who is he to suggest improvements in how I run my hotel?
The thing that bothers me the most about Cedrick is how he rubs the Norton in my face. The Norton is his other monument. It’s a 475-room hotel that sits across the park to the east. Closer to the business district and shopping. It’s a few years younger and I absolutely hate the hotel and everything about it. The name, the façade, the staff, the customers and most of all its results. The owner is constantly comparing the two of us and this drives me crazy. He tells me all the time how well the Norton does this and that. Service, engagement and profits are always better at the Norton, he says!
Cedrick has no idea how much I detest the Norton and his meddling in my hotel. But I’m a great actor and I play my part. I don’t believe him anyway. When he compares our monthly results, I am pretty sure he makes most of it up. He has never actually shared the financial statements, STR reports or any guest service scores. He always says things are different and better at the Norton.
The staff are happier, the guests come back more often, and the profits are higher.
I know a thing or two about people and business
First, people always want you to think they know what’s really going on in your world. Second, in business results are what matter and so far, I have not seen any evidence that the Norton performs in any way superior to the Stow. I’m also pretty sure that if the Norton’s results were better Cedrick would be in my face and showing me exactly where my hotel was under-performing. To boot, I really don’t think he knows his ass from his elbow when it comes to how you run a great hotel. Without me this hotel is nothing!