How does a hotel brand renowned for service and tradition remain relevant with business travelers who prioritize savvy design and digital tools as much as grand cru Darjeeling tea?
For Ritz-Carlton, it begins with a new design ethos that puts an emphasis on chic, modern aesthetics with a strong sense of place. Take, for example, the recently opened Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, which combines panoramic views of the Kamagawa river and Higashiyama mountains with a Meiji-style minimalism in the natural-wood interiors.
At the same time, new club floors in cities such as Tianjin, China, are offering apartment-like ambience and amenities (residential kitchens; TV rooms; reading salons) to help business travelers feel rooted while abroad.
These features helped Ritz-Carlton secure the No. 1 ranking among hotel brands in the Best in Business Travel survey conducted by Travel + Leisure and Fortune. Kimpton, lauded for its customer service, and Fairmont were also among the top-scoring brands.
Respondents generally noted that the cost and speed of Wi-Fi is one of the most frustrating parts of staying at a hotel, while late checkout and early check-in are some of the most valuable amenities a hotel can offer.
On the digital front, Ritz-Carlton has relaunched its app, which now handles mobile check-in/checkout as well as housekeeping and valet service requests at properties throughout the Americas.
The company is also testing ordering in-room and poolside dining via the app—an attractive option for today’s DIY-minded business traveler. —Greg Oates