IUBH Meets the “Big Plus”
Over the weekend of 10th-12th January, a group of Hospitality students from Bachelor’s, Master’s and Dual Studies undertook a field trip to the Swiss city of Zurich. Our mission was to learn as much as we could from three city-centre hotels awarded four and five stars by hotelstars.eu: the B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa Zürich, the Alden Suite Hotel Splügenschloss Zürich and the Marktgasse Hotel Zürich.
First impressions matter
However, we discovered on checking in that our own hotel was not quite up to this calibre, when we were met by one of the rudest receptionists imaginable. At least this meant that our trip kicked off with a valuable lesson: how important first impressions are to the guest. No matter how nice the bedrooms and facilities, this experience ensured that we would never speak positively of the place to anyone.
Passion & enthusiasm
After dropping off our stuff, we headed for the 4-star B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa Zürich. Though not as central to the city as the other hotels, this establishment has a unique and characteristic setting, being built around a natural thermal spa. The first hotel we visited, it also provided us with the most enjoyable tour. The employees’ enthusiasm for the hotel’s rich history (it was originally a brewery), and their evident passion for working there, went unmatched through any of the subsequent hotel tours.
High expectations, mixed results
After some sightseeing around the city, the Alden Suite Hotel Splügenschloss Zürich was next on the agenda. Since it was the only 5-star location that had agreed to give us a tour, we had high expectations for it – expectations that would unfortunately not be met, as became clear from our first interactions with the staff. Although there had been a clear email exchange regarding our visit, with date and times all confirmed, the staff seemed surprised at our arrival. The tour itself was rushed, lasting 20 minutes at most, giving us just a brief impression of the reception, the restaurant, and a single bedroom. However, the experience was not without value, as it demonstrated how things can go wrong when not planned carefully even where the highest standards are supposed to be maintained.
A cosy hotel for the Instagram generation
Luckily, we had one more hotel tour arranged for Sunday. Situated in the centre of Zurich amongst the old town buildings, the Marktgasse Hotel Zürich is a historic and quirky structure. None of the floors runs exactly straight, which we found unusual; but this was an unavoidable consequence of the building’s age, as it was simply too old for many structural alterations to be made. Despite its location in the old town, the atmosphere and décor were minimalistic and really fit the “millennial” idea of how a cosy hotel should feel. The staff, for their part, were very friendly and open.
All in all, an enjoyable and educational weekend was had by everyone. The various hotels we visited represented a great balance in style and atmosphere between the historic, the classic and the minimalist. It was fascinating to see how much a highly-rated a hotel can diverge from the standard, homogeneous look that chains such as Hilton and Marriott have normalised.