Common themes

Common themes

Welcome to my blog, which centers on topics of interest to the owners and operators of small independent hotels and resorts. Whether you term yours ?boutique,? ?intimate,? ?getaway? or ?retreat,? you face a unique set of issues that are common to others who are seeking to maximize performance while providing a great guest experience in a property with 150 rooms or fewer, as defined by Mirbeau Hospitality Services.

My goal in this space is to start a dialogue, and I encourage your lively participation. Each blog will explore a different aspect of subjects relating to smaller hotels and resorts. Over time, I will address issues relating to positioning, performance, rooms, dining, spa, guest experience, social networking, outside memberships, financial issues, staffing, marketing, sales, expansion, renovation, awards and accolades, and community.

My most current and relevant reference is the property that I call home: Mirbeau Inn & Spa, a 34-room Monet-inspired romantic getaway located in the picturesque Finger Lakes wine country town of Skaneateles, New York. Ten years old, it has become a mainstay of the Central New York region and has developed a strong and steadily growing national presence with the aid of high-profile awards from such esteemed organizations as Travel & Leisure, Cond? Nast Traveler, Forbes and AAA. I?ll use this and other experiences as a reference point, and I invite you to do the same in your comments.

To begin, I?d like to share a new idea that is working well for Mirbeau and may be of interest to you, too. Like many retreat-like properties, Mirbeau finds that weekends tend to book more quickly than midweek dates. To stimulate midweek business, we have begun to create themed offerings for each quarter, featuring an array of activities and amenities that positively impact our four main profit centers ? rooms, dining, spa and retail ? including an overnight package that is good only midweek.

Our first such quarterly offering is just ending this month and has been very successful. We called it Spring Renewal and teamed up with a product partner, Aromatherapy Associates, to offer a program and package featuring luxury accommodations, one 50-minute aromatherapy spa treatment per person, an aromatherapy-inspired lunch and breakfast (per person), and one in-room bath experience featuring Aromatherapy Associates products (one per room). Themed fitness and educational programs round out the offering, which has been available throughout the entire second quarter of 2011. Whereas in the past, our special programs and packages were shorter in duration, by taking a quarterly approach, all of the work done up front to set up the program has a longer lifespan, making for efficient use of staff time and effort.

How successful has it been? We are beating our aggressive 2011 budget and are 27% over this same time period last year, and we?ve booked 585 overnight spa packages ? all new guests. We?ve also booked 464 day spa packages and 341 aromatherapy treatments ? not bad numbers for a 34-room property.

If you have topics of particular interest, please let me know by posting a comment, or feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected]. I look forward to connecting with you.