Courtyard by Marriott in top 10

Grand Cayman’s Courtyard by Marriott ended 2005 on a high note.

The hotel was ranked in the top 10 of all international Courtyards by Marriott for its quality assurance guest service score.

General Manager of the hotel Steven Schwartz explained that a guest survey form goes into every guest room. Those that are, brought home, filled out and mailed for free to the Marriott’s processing centre in Utah are assessed and graded. The results are done monthly, quarterly and half yearly.

At the beginning of 2005 the hotel was at the bottom of the pile for all the international Courtyards by Marriott, according to the surveys. However, by June it had crept up to somewhere in the middle and by the end of the year finished in ninth place from about 100 of these hotels internationally. This involves all the hotels outside of the United States, from places as far flung as Europe and China to South America.

Mr. Schwartz believes that the raw material of a great staff went a long way toward the hotel’s super success. ‘We had a common goal to improve and learn the Marriott way and it has really paid off,’ he said.

But he remains very down to earth despite the feat. ‘We still need to keep focusing on problem resolution and guest satisfaction,’ Mr. Schwartz said. ‘We all feel really good about what we have achieved, but the process is by no means over.’

The staff is now in the process of setting new goals for 2006 and the feedback is to push guest numbers up.

Occupancy figures for early 2006 are behind the corresponding figures for 2005, when it was one of the few hotels fully up and running following Hurricane Ivan’s hit in September 2004. However, occupancy figures are up on all the other years, back to 2000, when it opened. ‘I feel pretty good about that trend continuing,’ said Mr. Schwartz, who added that business travel has increased of late.

And although recent figures from the Department of Tourism show that air arrivals to the Cayman Islands haven’t met the high numbers of other recent years, there has been much activity, he said.

‘The phones are ringing, our website is humming; people are interested. The outlook is good. As long as the Department of Tourism and the properties continue to market the product then the island will continue to grow.’

In the meantime, the focus for the Courtyard by Marriott is on guest experience.

‘We’ve got a new slogan that goes, ‘We’ve got the right bed for you’,’ he said.

‘Once people get here it needs to be an oasis for them. We have a new 9’ contour foam mattress and our thread count on the sheets has gone up from 180 to 220.

‘We have five pillows on the beds instead of three and a white duvet that is laundered at every check out. The result is very fresh bedding and the response has been great,’ he said.

The lobby is soon to undergo improvements also, where a more intimate, plush setting will be created through separate seating nooks, new upholstery, drapery, artwork and colour schemes. It is scheduled for completion by summer.

Other upgrades include brand new equipment for the fitness centre, and enhancements to the free service of high speed internet access.

And so the recipe for success is forever evolving.

‘A lot of it is that I have a team that genuinely likes people and hospitality. They understand the pleasures of giving service.’

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