Andrew Pike is the legendary General Manager of The Milestone Hotel and Residences in Kensington. Over the years, he’s exceeded countless guests’ expectations, treating every request with reverence. As we celebrate 100 years of hospitality, Andrew lets us into his world of service, explaining how Red Carnation Hotels realises its ethos: no request is too large, no detail too small.
What makes Red Carnation Hotels’ service so unique?
“We place the guest front and centre. While we have Standard Operating Procedures, the guest’s personal preferences override anything written in our operational manual. Hospitality to me is about treating each and every guest as an individual and taking a genuine, positive approach to everything we do. This is why we always look for new employees who have a high “HQ” factor and naturally enjoy making guests happy. This is the one thing we can’t teach; it has to come from within. We tap into this and help it grow.”
How, as GM of a hotel regularly at capacity, do you ensure every guest is being looked after?
“While it can become more challenging to deliver the most engaging service during periods of high occupancy, I have actually found that, in practise, the hotel operates at its best when busiest. Everyone finds an extra gear, engagement levels rise and there is a sense of excitement and fun. Some of our best “TNTs” (Tiny Noticeable Touches) have been delivered whilst at capacity.
During these times, the focus is on walking the floor and asking the right questions to check that everyone is up to speed and ready for any unforeseen requests. Roughly one in every 18 guests that stay with us is here to celebrate a special occasion, so opportunities to create lasting memories present themselves daily.”
Why is service so integral to a guest’s stay in a busy city, where guests spend a lot of time off the premises?
“Most who choose to stay with us—and we never take that for granted—are here for leisure. Although they may well have plans to be out each day, they are looking for recommendations and “insider information” from our concierge team. Located as we are in one of the world’s cultural capitals, guests want to get the very best out of their time with us.
We very much encourage our guests to enjoy our bar and restaurant but sometimes they just want to use us a welcoming “home” to return to each evening—to unwind in Stables Bar, sharing an anecdote or two from their day with Angelo or Giacomo while they make plans for the next day. They don’t want to have to explain how they like their Martini each evening, so we have to be pre-emptive and share information internally. The same applies to any other service or request our guests might make. Most people are creatures of habit; we have to recognise that habit and be ready to accommodate it quickly, quietly and efficiently.”
Can you tell us about some of the times you’ve made some guests’ stays special?
“Where to begin? There have been so many.
Let me start with three generations of the same family, who stayed in our residences for the grandparents’ special wedding anniversary. For their penultimate night, we organised a celebratory family dinner in our Windsor Suite.
It was a fabulous evening. Our Chef had prepared their favourite dishes, the wine was flowing—and one of my team was discreetly photographing the celebration. The following morning we had 12 of the pictures printed, framed and placed by their bedsides as mementos. They never forgot this; to them, The Milestone became synonymous with special moments and we formed an emotional bond, more powerful than any loyalty offer or discount.
Another time, we had a young family staying with us, and discerned that the children adored Harry Potter. They had booked the Studio Tour through our concierge team, but we wanted to do something special. So whilst they were out, the team here got to work in their rooms recreating the “Hogwarts” house colours. We created personalised recipe books in the style of Hogwarts class workbooks and paired them with personalised “wands” and witch-inspired “tasty treats” for when they returned. They were bowled over: not just by the trouble the team had taken, but with the level of detail, too.”
Red Carnation Hotels treats every guest with special reverence. Stay at one of our properties to experience our unique standard of hospitality.