In my non-diplo company, we care a lot about service. Clients come first. We have a whole orientation session on it when we begin at the firm, and then periodic reminders, and as the company grows, expands, and is no longer populated by the pioneer corps (the people that were there way back when), we grow a bit farther away from it but the spirit is still there. In fact, during these sessions our fearless leaders talk about how envious we are that we didn’t coin the phrase, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” which is – or at least, was – the Ritz Carlton’s internal motto.
I adore the motto, I always have, and wonder why more hotels and establishments don’t simply shamelessly use it anyway. I think it embodies the way guests should be treated – meeting their needs with confidence and respect. Not with disgruntlement, not with subservience, not with indifference, not faux concern. There are few properties that apply this consistently, but the ones that do always leave a mark. Which is why I’ll always talk about the phenomenal time we had with And Beyond on safari. And which is why we’ll never forget our stay at Schloss Velden here in Austria.
Two weekends ago, we braved our first getaway with diplo-baby in tow, thinking it was high time we bite the bullet. If we didn’t get out then, we might never get out again! I confess, I have been (and probably still am) one of those people that develops a bit of an allergic tic if I’m poised for a getaway and see small children on the premises. Now I became one of those people with the small child in tow, complete with stroller and a trunk full of diapers in the car. I would run away fast if I saw me coming. But the staff at Velden didn’t even blink an eye, treating us with nothing but respect ,and even greeting DB with a stuffed bear in the lobby.
The true mark of service is to anticipate a need before the client actually has it. Case in point: Not wanting to disrupt the fine paying patrons of Velden’s two-star Michelin restaurant, we chose their more casual Seespitz restaurant. Less formal, sure, but no less quality. The steak for two is excellent. How do I know? Because we actually got to eat it. A few minutes into our main course, DB started to make her presence known with the usual evening cries. As my husband was getting up to wheel her around in the stroller to calm her down, our waiter actually came up to him, took the stroller and said “No, let me…You came for dinner, please enjoy your meal”. And just like that, he wheeled her off around the restaurant and brought her back some minutes later, sound asleep, while we were able to actually eat in peace. As new parents, this is something we’ll never forget. That’s the mark of ladies and gentlemen.
All photography by The New Diplomat’s Wife.