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In Bed with Mr & Mrs Smith: A Guide to Making Your Hotel Sexy
By Anne Edwards, Editor in Chief, ehotelier
As a GM, do you make a practice of touring your hotel, looking at everything around you from the perspective of, say, a 30 year old and thinking to yourself ‘Is my hotel sexy?’ If your answer is ‘No’ then perhaps it’s time you tried it. Ehotelier spoke to James and Tamara Lohan, a.k.a. Mr & Mrs Smith (mrandmrssmith.com) about their longevity in the industry and about what makes a hotel sexy. So, if your hotel libido is a bit low, read on.
Ten years ago, a tiny, defined business concept emerged out of James and Tamara’s flair for eking out stylish stays in the British countryside — all of their friends wanted to know their secret for finding boutique properties for ‘dirty weekends away’. “At the time”, says James, “The guidebooks available were really a bit old fashioned in terms of luxury, and the design was slightly pompous. We were part of, and dealing with a design conscious generation which had thrown out the chintz; a generation coming out of an intense period of home design. Our houses were starting to look better than the hotels we were spending all our time and money on”.
“It was a time of throwing out the luxury rule book” Tamara explains. “Luxury was not defined by the number of stars or awards won but it was about the charm and character of the place — how it made you feel. Was the bed the best you’d slept in? Were the sheets Egyptian cotton? Was the shower really going to get you wet? Could the barman mix you a perfect martini? These things may be much more in the minds of hoteliers these days but it was pretty transformational back then”.
I asked James and Tamara what guarantees ongoing success for Mr & Mrs Smith. “We got to the point where we had the traffic and we could have just added more hotels and got more bookings but we made a very conscious decision not to do that and to stick to our very rigorous guidelines for inclusion, because what we realised were key points for us were service and trust. Customers trust us — we do a lot of honeymoons and you can’t afford to get them wrong”.
Ehotelier: Does Every Hotel Need to Be Sexy?
Tamara: No, if your hotel caters more to business travellers or families then sexy may not necessarily be what you’re after. However, if you’re trying to attract a youngish leisure crowd, there are definitely things that you don’t want to see.
James: If you want to attract that particular group, I definitely don’t want to see a sign that says ‘Coaches Welcome’ or ‘Conference Attendees Turn Left.’ I don’t want to see uniforms with name badges that look authoritative. I don’t want to stand on ceremony. I want people that are attentive and look after you like an old friend.
Ehotelier: What Are the Standout Sexy Features You Notice When You First Enter a Hotel Room?
Tamara: We can tell a property we would like to include in our collection from the moment we walk into the lobby, and really, it’s subtle things like the temperature, the lighting, the music and the smells. When I enter the room though, the first thing I notice is the technology – which is a bit of a role reversal because the first thing James notices is the bed, the wallpaper, the fabrics. I think we went through a phase of overuse of technology where everything became so complicated that it took you half an hour to figure out how to turn the lights on. I want to know whether the technology is going to be straightforward and enhance my stay, or unintelligible and cause me frustration. That applies to the temperature controls, the TV, the phone, the shower controls, the lighting and the Wi-Fi.
James: It’s true, the first thing I head for is the bed – how big is it, do the cushions and the fabrics and colours attract me or repel me and, of course, how comfortable is it? What’s happening on the wall behind the bed – is it decorated with wallpaper? Artwork? Does it work with the bed? Am I going to get a good night’s sleep?
Tamara: Then it’s into the bathroom to check the products. I really like to see natural products that say something about the local area and differentiate the hotel from others. Looking around the bathroom I note whether the bath is big enough for two – same goes for the shower — are there candles and can the lighting be dimmed? You can get fake candles now that flicker and are not a fire hazard. What does it smell like? The smell can create an instant atmosphere. We were in a property in Australia recently which had twin baths on the balcony — fantastic.
Ehotelier: What Have You Found in Your Hotel Room that Has Delighted You?
James: I’m always happy when the hotel has provided something other than the obligatory fruit basket or note from the manager. A bottle of local wine is a pleasure and we’ve also returned to our room to find warm cider from local producers, hot water bottles, complimentary local lip balm and mini bars containing adult products (subtle enough to get by your Grandma). Forget the petals and pillow chocolates and go for something memorable.
Ehotelier: What is Your Definition of Sexy in a Hotel?
James: I’d have to say Blakes Hotel in London which has a back entrance/exit to make that discreet get away (especially if the paparazzi are likely to be after you). What could be sexier than that?
Eight Quick Tips from Mr & Mrs Smith to Sex Up Your Hotel
About Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards combines her love of language, travel, and different cultures as Editor in Chief of ehotelier.com. Prior to this position, Anne lectured in Cross Cultural Studies at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia and currently consults to the Australian Federal Government on subjects such as Leadership and Building Productive Partnerships. Anne has travelled and worked internationally for twelve years, holding various positions in the field of education, most notably as linguistic advisor to the Crown Princess of Thailand for two years where she sampled some of the best hotels in the world. Her love for travel spans the freedom of wandering on a shoe-string budget to the finest standards of service in world-class properties. As Editor in Chief of one of the largest hotel news sites in the world, Anne has a birds-eye view of what is happening in the industry internationally.
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