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There was something new on Hotel Impossible this week. The show ventured to Greece to visit the Litohoro Olympus Resort Villas and Spa, a 4-Star hotel suffering from the Greek financial crisis. The lessons to be learned this week apply to GMs and senior staff for every major chain hotel and/or high rated establishment.

To set the stage, this week’s episode was staged in a modern (built in 2010) hotel on the footsteps of Mount Olympus. The hotel featured beautiful rooms, breath taking views and private pools. Unfortunately, the hotel also had a very low occupancy rate.

Episode Recap: Afraid to Get Dirty

After thinking about this for a while, the situation was a little like last week’s episode featuring the Abacrombie Inn. In that episode, it was clear that the owners had lost their entrepreneurial passion. The result last week was a lack of desire to get involved and get dirty.

This week, the owners, Platon, his mother Evenia, wanted to do better but in my opinion did not like the idea of getting their hands dirty. Although the owners were well intentioned, simply wanting to do better or working a lot of hours does not mean that the passion to strive for excellence is there.

This was very evident in one particular scene when the host Anthony Melchiorri attempted to get the owners and spa manager to touch a completely clogged spa air filter. Their reaction was almost hysterical at the thought of touching dirt and grime. In fact, the Spa manager (also Platon’s wife) actually backed up with a fearful expression as to say I am not going to get dirty.

“Passion changes everything”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

A willingness to get dirty was just one issue, the other real issues included maintenance, the use of online marketing, space management and staff training. Of these hotel maintenance was very much the hot item.

Litohoro Olympus Resort Villas and Spa Maintenance Opportunities

Maintenance issues should not be labeled as problems, they should be identified as opportunities for improvement. The most important maintenance opportunities identified during the show were:

Mold and more Mold

  1. The Spa HVAC unit had NEVER been cleaned or had maintenance. The air filter was so clogged that the unit was not functioning. This lead to severe mold problems in the spa.
    Significant mold was found on the walls, bathroom stalls and spa ceilings. The HVAC unit was also too small. The issue was so bad that Anthony insisted the spa be closed until repair could be made.
  2. Ultraviolet inspection turned up stains on the bed boards, walls and toilets indicating that cleaning was superficial.
  3. The halls were poorly lit. The lack of light prevented staff from seeing the marks on the walls as well obscuring needed maintenance items.
  4. Inspections were not being performed resulting in peeling paint, cracks and dirty windows not being identified and therefore not scheduled for maintenance and repairs.
  5. The person ultimately responsible for maintenance (Platon) was living in his office 10 hours a day and walking around to see the problems.

Marketing, Space Management and Training Opportunities

Through the course of the show several other opportunities for improvement were identified, these included:

  • The majority of guest were coming through 3rd party agents that were offering discounted room rates plus taking an additional 25%. Only two guests had used the hotel’s website.
  • The truly beautiful villas had only 8% occupancy even though they had private pools and spectacular views. This was an opportunity to use this space more effectively.
  • Not all staff was trained well with the subtleties of customer service. To be a 4-Star hotel, customer service is very important. There were opportunities for better training with the concierge and room service staff.
  • The hotel was not aligning itself with local adventure vendors to capture the essence of Mount Olympus.

The Fixes and What Hoteliers can Learn

The incident mentioned earlier with the spa filter was important because every hotel owner, GM and manager should be willing to do whatever is necessary in the best interest of the hotel. Whether it is picking up a paper clip off the floor or using a cleaning tool, no task should be considered beneath them.

It is the little things that distinguish the impassioned hotel manager from the average employee. Passion can be infectious. If hotel management displays passion so will hotel employees. The end result is a cleaner, better run hotel with more satisfied guest.

If hoteliers learn anything from this episode it should be to identify people within the organization that are afraid to get their hands dirty and ummm, ummmm, get rid of them.

Other fixes for the Litohoro Olympus Resort Villas and Spa followed the normal format. A designer (Blanche) was brought into remodel the villas so that they could be used as an alternative to the closed spa. The end result was a beautiful designed room and patio area. Have to give Blanche credit for this one.

In addition, a new website was given to the owners to encourage more direct bookings and the hotel was given new software designed to work like a portable concierge. The portable concierge elevated the amenities level of the hotel and should be a nice win.

Is all this working? The final screen indicated revenues are up 30%, the Spa HVAC unit has been repaired and the Spa is open again. Now it is up to the owners to ensure they execute the plan and maintain the hotel properly.