The Milan Marriott Hotel is located in one of Milan’s smartest districts on the chic via Washington, in a central yet tranquil position. It is a reference point for those in search a hotel with a cosmopolitan ambience. Regulars include business people and members of the Jewish community, and the hotel is renowned for its meticulous service and its team of close-knit staff.
“Take care of your staff and they will take care of your guests,” says Bill Marriot, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International Inc, one of the world’s largest lodging companies. And this statement is taken literally at the Milan Marriott Hotel, a sophisticated four-star property located in residential area of via Washington. “There is a strong sense of fellowship amongst our members of staff. They all help each other and make a concerted effort to work as a team, and this sense of kinship is recognised by our customers,” says Raffaello Panariello, who has worked as the Hotel’s Manager since 2003.
“We have 105 employees and a very low turnover of about 3%. At the Marriott we are known for our ‘art of hosting’ and hospitality is our number one priority.” These words are echoed by Director of MICE (the acronym for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events), Carmela Pino.
“At times we transform critical situations into real team building activities that involve all our staff. For example, once, while hosting one thousand delegates attending a congress on world finance in our plenary room, the president decided that he wanted a last-minute change of plan. He asked us to set up the gala dinner in the same room. We had only half an hour to transform the plenary room into a banqueting hall. However, thanks to everyone’s help, office staff included, the room was ready in just 24 minutes! When we find ourselves facing the challenge of last-minute requests, we mobilise the entire hotel.”
And apropos congresses, MICE is the hotel’s core business, with an 85% occupancy rate linked to the world of events and business tourism. ‒ 80% of the above is Italian, while the remaining 20% is divided among Americans, Asians, Russians and Arabs.
There are 380 events annually, an availability of 20 meeting rooms, a plenary room seating 1,200, plus 321 rooms and a parking garage for 400 cars.
“Thanks to our modular, transformable spaces, including the option of organising meetings in our suites, everything at our hotel is geared towards flexibility,” explains Carmela Pino.
The number of staff employed in the food&beverage division is also significant. Headed by Sergio Mandelli, the duties of its 40-member staff include dining room service and kitchen duties. However, this number doubles when large events are organised and the staff arranges tailor-made events. “Once, we recreated a ‘chiringuito’ with lots of sand, deck chairs, tropical temperatures, ethnic dishes and cocktails served in the shells of exotic fruit for about 1,000 guests, in just one room. Our client, as you can imagine was more than satisfied and we exceeded all expectations.”
However, the Milan Marriott Hotel is not just a hotel for groups or large events. “Thanks to our central position, which is distant from the city’s high traffic area, yet near to public transport and only steps from the Navigli, the Tortona Design district and one of Milan’s favourite shopping streets (editor’s note: corso Vercelli), our hotel is also patronized by foreign business people, while our leisure segment is increasing, especially in summer,” says Front Office Manager, Katia Di Martino.
To cater to the requirements of individual customers and outside guests, the Milan Marriott recently enhanced its dining options with the opening of Restaurant Bar 66, a warm, friendly space for lunch or dinner. The hotel’s signature Brasserie de Milan, featuring an open-view kitchen, has been designed to accommodate up to 200 diners, whose taste buds are titillated by the creations of Chef Andrea Saracco.
Boasting an impressive resume, including work experience at several renowned restaurants, luxury hotels and private houses, Saracco was chosen by the Marriott to teach the secrets of Italian cuisine to the chefs of the brand’s European properties. Born into a family of restaurateurs from Alessandria (his grandmother opened the first restaurant at the beginning of the 20th century), Saracco played in the kitchen, where from an early age, he learnt the basics of cooking. “I offer a cuisine that highlights the origins of Italian food and features traditional seasonal ingredients, but which is simplified and presented with a contemporary feel.
I am not particularly fond of technology unless it is necessary for the quality of the end product. Our most popular dishes? These include risottos, which I prepare in several different ways. There are saffron flavoured risotto, risottos with artichokes or radicchio and, naturally, my signature risotto with ossobuco. Remember that although many guests expect express cuisine, there will be a 20-minute wait before your risotto is served, but the quality of the ingredients will compensate.” And although the specified times for lunch and dinner are 12.30pm to 3pm and 6pm to 11pum at the Milan Marriot, those suffering from jet-lag or in search of a snack between meals can order something to eat from 6 in the morning to midnight. “Our motto is flexibility and our aim is to satisfy our customers regardless of whether they are staying at the hotel or not,” explains Mandelli, who exemplifies the hotel’s awareness of the importance of social media and brand reputation. “ We are working with the owners of various Apps who are interested in promoting hotel restaurants.”
“Since the Milan Marriott Hotel is in walking distance from various synagogues, it is also a reference point for the Milanese Jewish community,” says Di Martino. “During Shabbat, we offer our Jewish guests a number of special services. These include reserving rooms for them on the first floor so that they can be easily accessed on foot. We make sure that the lights in the rooms are already switched on and we substitute our electronic keys with mechanical ones. Additionally, during the Sabbath, the automatic doors leading onto the hall are always left open. If it rains, one of our staff is always on hand to open the umbrellas of guests leaving the hotel.” Our hotel also provides kosher certified cuisine and no milk-based products are served. Since it is forbidden to cook on Shabbat, in the event of parties or celebrations, we make sure that all menus are prepared in advance.
>> Official website: www.mariott.it
Article by Simona P.K Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz
Photos copyright Casotti/Sardano