Luxury Hotels and art of welcoming
An interview of Ralph Radtke, Cıragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul General Manager & Kempinski Area Director for Turkey & Bulgaria.
What is your business approach of “art of welcoming” in Cıragan Palace? What are the values that you emphasize when welcoming your customers?
In the hotel business, our main aim is to make dreams come true; we want our guests to leave with happy memories and come back hence we use many tools including “art de recevoir’. Luxury means limited edition; it is haute couture. Every service that we deliver has to be tailor made; this is also a part of Kempinski’s philosophy.
We value individuality, local culture and tradition where ever we are. An advantage we have at Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is that we are the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel in Turkey. Nothing can trump this fact; one of our two buildings is a historical palace where sultans, the rulers of the empire once resided. Nothing with us is generic; we are proud to reflect in every corner and every detail that we are the only palace hotel in Turkey, located on the marvelous shores of the Bosphorus in a city that hosted three big empires and that lies on two continents, Asia and Europe.
One important element is a personalized check-in. You will meet our ladies in red, who are one of the trademarks of all Kempinski Hotels around the world. The welcome is announced with a beautiful Louis Vuitton setup. We are the only ones in the world to have this. When you reach your room, you will have your own personalized setup prepared in advance…and it goes on.
Because we have a second check-in with butler service in our palace building. This will enhance the service because it doesn’t just stop with the welcome. We also assist our guests by redoing their luggage, hanging their items up. Even if you don’t ask anybody to do so, we will clean your luggage because you may have many things stamped on your luggage when you come along from the airport. We will even clean your jackets, shirts, etc. This is really a 24-hour butler service at the disposal of the guests upon their arrival.
What experiences do you deliver? What are the main characteristics of the service you offer compared to the other hotels of the city?
There are so many unique elements regarding our property and the city that we live in, along with the uniqueness of Turkish culture which is a blend of East and West. We are a part of a rich and fascinating history; we value this fact very much and we share and reflect it through different services from the “traditional soap service” carried out by our palace butlers –where they cut a bar of handmade soap in front of the guest to use in hamam/Turkish bath or for daily use or to take home as a souvenir- to having an in house “baklava” chef to enable our guests taste the real baklava, the way it has been made for years.
We combine this priceless legacy with tailor made luxury and today’s comfort. We believe traveling in this day and age is about creating an experience more than anything; we want our guests to taste, to see, to live something new that will add a meaning to their life during their stay with us. We want to enhance their travel experience. To give a few examples, we have introduced shisha service at our bar Le Fumoir located at the hotel garden facing the wonderful Bosphorus, our guests simply love it; there is so much demand that it would still be full if we turned the whole garden into Le Fumoir!
We have one of the best Ottoman cuisine restaurants in the city. At our awarded Tuğra Restaurant located at the historical Çırağan Palace we prepare and serve dishes in their traditional methods. This is a truly authentic experience; having Ottoman food with original recipes in a genuine palace. Our executive chef is Turkish, we have the best selection of local produce at the hotel. Everybody can have a Club Sandwich at any hotel in the world which we also have, but along with such comfort food we have our signature local dishes that we prepare with fresh, local, seasonal and organic products. We try to add a meaningful touch to everything that we do and serve.
When does the art of welcoming start at your hotel?
The welcoming does not just start when the customer is already in the hotel. The welcoming starts when he picks up the telephone or sends a letter or email asking for information on how he/she should arrive. We have a team of 8 people responsible solely for Googling and looking on all possible social media. Who is this person? What does he like? Where was he before? That way, we are ready when he comes to surprise him with what he really needs.
Once you arrive at Ciragan Palace, we have a great doorman who speaks 6-7 languages. Then we have our ladies in red—our Kempinski trademark. We will welcome you with a towel that is warm or cold depending on the season. On top of that, in the summer we may offer some fresh homemade lemonade with lemon and some spices. Otherwise, in the winter we offer a healthy drink called the salep which you can find close to the mosque.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.