By Travel Editor Tracey Minkin
How does Ocean House do it? How did this beautiful and gracious luxury hotel in the quiet corner of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, become widely considered one of the best hotels in the world (and was named by Coastal Living’s readers as the Best Beach Hotel in the World earlier this year)?
What’s the secret behind the pale yellow clapboard of the exquisitely restored historic hotel?
General Manager Daniel Hostettler revealed some of Ocean House’s magic in an interview this week with Jason Clampet, co-founder and head of content at Skift, one of my favorite travel news sources. Here’s what I learned from Hostettler about what makes Ocean House (and by extension, any hotel, whether on the beach or not), truly great.
1. Don’t nickel and dime your customer. Ocean House charges a resort fee ($38 a day) but as Hostettler points out, this allows the guest to move from activity to activity, place to place, in the resort, without having to deal with tipping. As he puts it:
You been in that position? I know I have. But what about staff, if no tips are allowed? The answer is that resort fee. Thirty dollars of every resort fee goes directly into a pool for staff, who are not allowed to receive individual tips. Which leads to great approach #2:
2. Reward great service. The pooled tip fund is shared across all staff members, but great service is noted, and rewarded. Hostettler, again:
3. Provide luxury stuff for free. Ocean House has a new program since I’ve last been: guests can use a small fleet of Mercedes much as most hotels have bikes for free use. Yes, Mercedes. The point here is not just the wonderful extra of hassle-free, cost-free use of a beautiful car to head into Newport, say, for lobster rolls and shopping, but the entrepreneurial spirit that made it happen.
4. Give back. Hostettler talks in the interview about how important a charitable presence was to Ocean House’s owner, and how it’s paid off in good will in every direction. When your rates are high, the amount you give will say volumes about the nature of your approach to life.
5. Staff, staff, staff. I love this advice. Attitude is so much a part of hospitality, and Hostettler says it better than I could:
Hiring for personality, training for skill. I love that. And this, too:
Doesn’t it all come down to service? When we selected our 10 Best Beach Hotels in the World, we asked all our experts to address service as much as they thought about views, pools, and amenities. Each of the hotels we selected placed service at the center of its mission. Kudos to Ocean House and to all our other wonderful hotels that keep guests and staff at the top of their priorities!
There’s a lot more that’s interesting and illuminating in this interview, and you can read the whole thing over at Skift, right here. And if you feel like heading to that slice of hotel heaven in Rhode Island and experiencing the Ocean House touch yourself, just go right here.
What do you love most about a beach hotel? What will you pay extra for? Let me know in the comments below, Tweet at me @traceyminkin on Twitter, hit me up on Facebook, or just tag me in an Instagram post of your all-time favorite beach hotel. Happy travels!