Do Not Disturb by Michael Matthews
Service, Above and Beyond
November 26, 2014 -- Let us now consider hotel service that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

I recently read an article about the best service the writer had ever received at a hotel. In this case, it was from a resort in Phuket, Thailand. The guest had read that the root of the turmeric plant was an instant cure when rubbed on a bite, mosquito or other. The hotel regretted that it had no turmeric. Half an hour later, however, a member of the hotel staff delivered two turmeric roots to the guest. He'd gone to town, on his bicycle, especially to get the cure.

Result? The guest had a great, bug-free day on the beach.

I think that's pretty good service--in the so-called "land of smiles" or, for that matter, anywhere in the world. (And, by the way, the turmeric-root treatment is not a myth, urban or otherwise. Remember it when barbecue time comes around again.)

For myself, I have two above-and-beyond service occurrences that stick in my mind.

The first was in London. I was exiting The Lanesborough hotel one morning when the doorman stopped me and asked if I was going to be gone all day. When I answered in the affirmative, he handed me an umbrella.

"It is going to rain this afternoon," he explained. And it did.

The second was in Dallas at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. I pulled up in my humble Honda Accord, which surely stood out amid the Rolls and Bentleys. The doorman opened my door, let me out and observed that I had two Blockbuster tapes on the passenger seat. He asked if they needed to be returned. I told him they did and he promised to take care of it for me. And he did.

The amazing part of the tale? I wasn't even a guest at the hotel, just attending a meeting.

So what, exactly, is great service? I've always tried to explain it to my staff this way: It's something that occurs when the guest least expects it. It's something that happens that's not in any manual. It's something that stretches beyond the norm.

I'd love to hear your experiences of great service and thoughts about service in general. It doesn't have to be in hotels or restaurants, either. Perhaps it was something that occurred at Walmart! Or, miracle of miracle, it may have actually been a matter of above-and-beyond service from an airline. Drop me a note with your experiences to

In closing, allow me to relate the following experience at The Bristol Hotel in Paris. I'm not sure if it was great service or something to cause me embarrassment.

Travelling alone, I went down to Epicure, the hotel's famous restaurant. In the course of ordering dinner, the very suave sommelier asked if I'd like wine. I explained that it was Lent and I was on the wagon, but would have a Coke.

The suave sommelier returned with a bottle of Coca-Cola in a bucket of ice. He then proceeded to open and decant it as if it were a bottle of '57 Petrus. He then poured the Coke from the decanter into my glass.

Above-and-beyond service? I think so, if perhaps a little over-the-top.

I look forward to hearing from you. But, please, no questions about Diet Coke because I really don't know if the suave sommelier would have decanted it differently from my bottle of regular Coke.

This column is Copyright 2014 by Michael Matthews. is Copyright 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Michael Matthews. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.