From a choice of fragrances to the presence of a guest experience manager: even the smallest detail at the Meliá Milano is tailor-made, making guests feel completely at home with the additional advantages of luxury and Meliá-branded servicesa choice of fragrances to the presence of a guest experience manager: even the smallest detail at the Meliá Milano is tailor-made, making guests feel completely at home with the additional advantages of luxury and Meliá-branded services
We are in one of Milan’s most prestigious residential districts, just moments away from the historic fairgrounds, the Meazza stadium – better known as San Siro – and the futuristic MiCo, the new congress centre of the Milanese fashion capital. The area is also home to the austere building, housing the splendid five-star Meliá hotel, which has a story to tell. The Meliá Milano was in fact, built on the site of the old Alemagna cake factory, where, none other than Panettone, the Milanese cake par excellence, was invented.
On entering the Meliá Milano you will immediately be enfolded by a special atmosphere which combines a sophisticated, old-world flavour with a fresh taste of originality: the large marble stairway, the undisputed star of the airy hall, invites guests to ascend it in order to discover the rest of the hotel, while the small, original lounges, decorated in bright red, tempt them to take a relaxing break and savour the grandeur of the architecture. No matter what one chooses, one instantly feels at home.
A home in which luxury is marked not only by the exquisite décor and exclusive services, but also – above all – by the personalization of each detail. “We work tirelessly on hospitality, customizing it to suit different cultural needs: our aim is to welcome each guest by respecting the customs and habits of his or her country of origin, and we are busy trying to obtain a series of ad hoc certifications, including Chinese Friendly certification,” explains Nicola Terlizzi, general manager, who has run the Meliá for the past 14 years and who boasts a curriculum worthy of a ‘citizen of the world’. His work experience includes stints at leading international and Italian hotel chains, in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central America. “Many of our staff lay claim to multi-ethnic backgrounds: we are able to list at least 25 different nationalities and this has a positive influence on the quality of our hospitality-“ These sentiments are echoed by Daniela Baldelli, sales and marketing manager of the Meliá Milano and Italy. “The human element is, in fact, the distinctive – and winning – element of our structure and of the Spanish chain in general. Our concept, ‘passion for service’, is interpreted at all levels: it is an attitude, an innate quality which counts more than ‘savoir faire’ and represents an important distinguishing feature when hiring personnel. Those who work for us know that they are free to take initiative (for example, when it comes to upgrades, rates, etc.). This gratifies our staff, and is also appreciated by our guests, who don’t feel trapped in a rigid, impersonal structure.“
Passion for Service
To highlight the fundamental importance of the quality of hospitality, the Meliá Milano also boasts a Guest Experience Department, so that each guest’s stay becomes unforgettable. “The Meliá experience must involve all five senses of our guests, and, for this reason, nothing is left to chance; the textures of the objects found in the bedroom, the fragrances that characterizes the communal area and bedrooms, the hotel’s interior design, its background music and gastronomy.
For example, the fragrances used by the chain are created ad hoc, but it also has its own music channel”, says Veronica Roman who has been the hotel’s Guest Experience Manager for the past 4 years. “The concept ‘passion for service’ means looking after customers from the moment of their arrival including deciding which room to assign to them, any specific request for the chef, their favourite fragrance, or their pillow preferences. It also means becoming their reference point in the hotel and solving any problem that might arise in a proactive manner, so that each and every guest feels totally at home.”
And, while on the subject of bedrooms, the Meliá Milano offers guests a choice of 291 rooms of 3 different categories, as well as suites – including the highly original Diabolik suite, inspired by the famous ‘black humour’ adult comic strip – all tended by a qualified staff of housekeepers, wardrobe attendants, bellhops and waiters. “We obviously employ the same meticulous cleaning methods for all rooms; the only things that changes are the decor, the linen and our courtesy kits”, explains Marina Cerisier, the hotel’s Parisian Executive Housekeeper, who has worked at the Meliá since 2007 and oversees a staff consisting of some thirty waiters and a dozen bellhops.
“Although we program the cleaning and tidying of each room twice a day, we do our best to respect the requirements and preferences of each guest: for example, some VIPs like sleeping in a totally dark room, while others ask us to make sure that their minibar is stocked with beverages of their choice. And then again, several customers who stay at the Meliá on a regular basis often leave a part of their wardrobe in the room: our job is to wash or dry clean their belongings, store them and then put them back in the wardrobe of their room when they return.”
The Level: a Hotel in a Hotel
If exclusivity and personalization are a ‘must’ at the Meliá Milano, at The Level they become a real mission. It is somewhat like staying at a hotel within a hotel. Those guests who choose to stay at The Level are treated to a number of luxurious on-site amenities including a private reception area manned by a team of five highly qualified staff members, an intimate, stylishly furnished lounge, with comfortable sofas and small elegant coffee tables with magazines, a TV, snacks and a 24 hour cocktail service. Moreover, The Level provides 65 exclusive rooms (five of which are suites) fitted out with every comfort and all those amenities that make a difference.
“Each guest is contacted prior to arrival, to enable us to ‘customize’ each single detail according to their needs”, says Simone Pisu, the young concierge of The Level, who has worked at the Meliá for the past five years , “From our welcome service to the details of the room. We also do our best to surprise our guests with unexpected, strictly ‘tailor-made’ services. I like to define The Level as the ‘rock’ soul of the Meliá. It’s not what you expect, it does not conform to standard practices and it is designed to surprise. At the same time, we also consider it the second home of those staying with us who, for example, can receive guests in the lounge or even invite them to have breakfast at no extra charge. Although those staying at The Level are relaxed and laid-back, they also know what they want, and, I can assure you, they want it right away. In fact, since they are often travelling on business and don’t have much time, when and if the occasion arises, they expect the concierge to come up with new and unusual suggestions that will further enhance their stay.”
Fusion or Traditional?
Even those who are pressed for time cannot leave the Meliá Milano without having first tried its gastronomic specialties that are based not only on quality and seasonal offerings but, above all, are customized to suit individual culinary requirements. “For example, if, we know that a delegation of Americans are visiting”, says Mario Crespi, the executive chef of the hotel’s entire food area, “We prepare a traditional menu featuring the signature dishes of Italian cuisine infused with typical Mediterranean ingredients. However, generally speaking, if I had to define my cuisine, I would use three adjectives: classic, contemporary and traditional. I’m not particularly fond of fanciful cuisine though I continue to update myself about innovations in cooking methods and pairings.
Furthermore, when I’m cooking, I experiment by combining different tastes and flavours, often revisiting the great classics of Italian cuisine with an oriental twist.” In fact, prior to arriving at the Meliá Milano, where he heads a team of 16 people, Mario Crespi worked with several well-known names in the hospitality industry both in Italy and various Caribbean and Asian countries (including Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Thailand). He has also contributed to the creation of the hotel’s new concept restaurant and bar, the Jigger, which serves food throughout the day, and is also open to members of the public. “Entrees are my specialty”, says Crespi showing us the restaurant’s menu. “For example, I adore the harmonious taste of chocolate ravioli filled with lamb and pistachio nuts dressed with asparagus; but I also love offering fruit and fish pairings, such as my tartare of seabass with melon, sweet pecorino cheese, black pepper and mint, an irresistible contrast.”
Nowadays, exclusivity is synonymous with wellness and the Meliá Milano boasts a fabulous wellness centre, where guests can relax either after a hard day’s work or a heady shopping spree in some of the city’s most fashionable streets. On-site amenities include a Turkish bath, a Hydromassage and a sauna. The centre also has a gym where guests can work out, assisted, if necessary, by a Personal Trainer, or pamper themselves with a regenerating massage or a beauty treatment offering miraculous results (click here for additional information).
>> Official: www.melia.com
Translation by Carey Bernitz
Photos by Giulia Minero