11/12/2015 11:16 GMT | Updated 10/12/2016 05:12 GMT

The Invaluable Art of Hospitality


I cried a little when we left our tropical vacation. As the seaplane ascended into the cloudless blue sky leaving the sparkling waters below, a tear formed. Normally embarrassment would keep me from admitting this. However, if you had been there and you were heading back to the cold, you may have too. Also, if you had hormones overtaking your body in the pregnant state that I am, you would understand. At least I hope you would.

Of course I will miss the sparkling multiple shades of azure waters and fine white sand. But ultimately, it is the way in which we were treated that perhaps I will miss the most. In addition to weather, it is the hospitality that makes or breaks a vacation. We were treated with smiles and attentive service throughout our stay. They greeted us by name upon arrival and attended to our every desire. We were made to feel important and cared for. This is what everyone longs for and what makes a lasting impression. You can stay in a gorgeous hotel but if you are treated with relative disregard as just another number, you likely won't return. How others treat you is extremely important. Not just on vacation, but in everyday life.

I live in a cold climate in more ways than one. London is a fast pace city and I can walk past hundreds of people a day without saying hello to anyone. Now that winter is upon us and the grey has saturated the sky and our moods, it seems all the more unfriendly. In stark contrast, the vibrancy of vacation slows the pace down and lightens the mood. Strangers cast smiles with ease and gasp..even chat with one another.

My favorite places to recommend and book for clients are those with fantastic service above all else. I have traveled the world and stayed in numerous accommodations, luxury hotels and otherwise. Those that I return to and certainly those I place clients in, are those that have mastered the art of hospitality in a genuine way. They know that greeting you by name and knowing which coffee you order in the morning will make a lasting impression and is always worth the effort. They put aside how they may be feeling and shift their perspective to focus on the client. They know that investing in the small things will have a big payout in the end. Those who are experts at it do it effortlessly and seem to truly care about others.

On our tropical vacation there was a man named Imran who brought us fresh coconuts in the afternoon. It was his job to climb the trees in the morning, gather coconuts and bring them to guests throughout the day. To some, his job may seem rather small or unimportant. To us and to our son, he has made a positive impression that will last forever. With a kind voice and a large smile, he would greet us daily with great enthusiasm. It was the way he made us feel that mattered. He wasn't someone who simply delivered coconuts; he was someone who brought joy. We got to know Imran and he became a friend and someone I admired.

Recently at a lovely hotel in Prague we had the pleasure of being served by a man named Henry each morning. He brought toys to our son and seemed to be at the table with things we needed before we even knew to ask. He always had a smile to share and took the time to talk with us. He brought us berries when we were eating yogurt without even asking. He seemed to greatly enjoy his job and it made our experience with him memorable. It is service like this that I realized is a bit of a lost art at times.

I find that great service not only worth paying for, but also worth emulating in our own lives both professionally and personally. You never know how a simple smile and acknowledgement of another persons needs or desires can impact them. It can brighten their day as I know it has mine.