Visitors and observers alike agree that the main attractions of the Park Hyatt Milano are its highly attentive staff and its ‘hard to beat’ location in the Galleria, between the Duomo and La Scala. This, together with its one Michelin-starred restaurant and its fabulous décor (including its famous glass cupola lounge) rank this highly central hotel in the Olympus of five-star Milanese properties.
At present, however, one of the aspects that make the Hotel Park Hyatt Milano particularly noteworthy is the fact that its manager is, in turn, a traveler and a ‘tourist’. Based in Milan since the beginning of 2013, 40-year-old general manager Gorka Bergareche, of Basque origin, still looks at this city with the interest and benevolent detachment of a traveler. The fact that he has been in Milan for little over a year, plus his twenty years of experience with the company, including his former position as manager of the Park Hyatt in Paris, enable him to have a more objective view of the plus points of Milan as well as those of the hotel itself. He lists them as follows: “The first three things that strike you on your arrival in Milan are the people, the fact that everything is close to hand and its vast cultural offer. Similarly, on my arrival at this hotel as its new manager, I was extremely impressed by the attitude of its staff, its marvelous position that affords easy access to just about everything and the elegance which with the typical Park Hyatt style is interpreted here.
Mister Bergareche also says that when he came to live here in 2013 he was absolutely amazed by just how much Milan had changed. “I had a vision of a flat, featureless rather grey city, oriented prevalently towards finance and business – the manager admits – and instead not only did I find it different to the way that I had imagined it, but also from the superficial knowledge that I had gleaned during my short stays in the city. I believe that this is an idea commonly held by corporate business travelers and instead, this is a myth that needs to be debunked. Milan has really changed and it’s time that those visiting it are made aware of this: I myself am discovering the city and its marvelous surroundings, from the Prealps to the Lakes.”
It is not mere chance that his objective is to encourage people to stay a little longer. “At present, the average number of nights spent at our hotel is 1.5 – explains the manager – which means that, after finishing their day’s business, a lot of people only stay for one night, without getting to see much more than the conference rooms. Instead, objectively speaking, Milan probably warrants a 3-day stay: at least 2 nights, to enjoy not only its marvellous cultural offer but also its fabulous shopping, bearing in mind that the ‘Quadrilatero della Moda’ is located just a few steps from the Park Hyatt Milano and the Galleria, lying, in fact, just below it.” What about its food’ Gorka Bergareche laughs, while searching for the most diplomatic answer. “Without doing a disservice to Paris, where I worked previously, the food in Italy is in a class of its own, it’s sublime! This is probably also due to the fact that, at his restaurant, namely Vun, he can count on the culinary skills of starred chef Andrea Aprea.
American, cosmopolitan and Milanese
In 2003, the Park Hyatt Milano became the first Italian property of the renowned American company, which boasts 590 hotels and resorts throughout the world in 60 countries. By tradition, the fact that the parent company is American makes this hotel a favourite destination for American travelers, followed by Orientals, Russians and Arabs. Although sixty percent of its clientele are corporate business travelers, an increasingly large segment account for tourists visiting Milan for pleasure, a number destined to increase significantly with the advent of Expo which the manager defines as “An extraordinary opportunity that we cannot afford to miss, with the help of the institutions which I hope are planning on making serious investments.”
Despite being profoundly committed to satisfying all those staying here, Mister Bergareche confesses that he derives particular pleasure when a Milanese says something like “I know your hotel really well: I sometimes drop in during my lunch break because your staff make an excellent Club Sandwich.”
“In the past, we hoteliers only thought about making our structures attractive to travelers – he explains – but I believe that the time has now come to think things differently. The standard offer, despite being of an extremely high level, is no longer enough: the greatest pleasure for a traveler is gaining insight into local traditions. This explains why, in spite of the fact that our hotel boasts a truly top-notch restaurant, it is really rare for a person who only has one dining opportunity in Milan to dine in! People go out because they have the feeling that if they stay in they won’t have a chance to savour the real Milan. That’s right, this is what I’m trying to achieve: to bring the real Milan into our hotel. My aim is to make the Park Hyatt Milano in the Galleria a meeting place, an events space and a cult destination, not only for travelers but also for the Milanese themselves. And we’re gradually managing to achieve our objective: not only are our aperitivi tempting more and more people in but, now, with the re-opening of our bar and restaurant, following in-depth renovation work, I’m expecting things to snowball.”
For the meantime, however, as the manager himself admits, the most flattering part of customer reviews, ahead of the hotel’s aperitivi or its location, is devoted to the quality of its service. A point of honour whose secret he reveals is the staff of 16 people responsible for hospitality (all in all, the Park Hyatt Milano employs a staff of 150 people), they epitomize the symbol of a style consisting of expertise, courtesy and a search for excellence.
To describe their work, Park Hyatt concierge instantly mention a book that has just been published in Italy entitled ‘Nessun problema’ (i.e. ‘No problem’): this is a phrase, they say, that every concierge worth his salt says when faced with any type of request. Because at this hotel, featuring 106 rooms and 25 suites, the word impossible should not exist.
Despite being accustomed to CEOs and ambassadors, the Park Hyatt Milano has that typical characteristic of places of real luxury, i.e. of extending its excellence to all guests and embracing all types of requests, including the most inconceivable but also the most common.
“In our business, as long as guests are aware that each service has a price, almost nothing is impossible – smile the concierge – however, above all, there is something that each guest is offered free-of-charge, namely our professionalism and courtesy.”
Concierge, who is personally able to testify to the fact the tourism in Milan is changing rapidly, adding families and couples taking romantic, luxury breaks to traditional business travel, is almost capable of writing a sociological treatise on customer service.
Because one of the most precious things that concierge have learnt is that courtesy, attentiveness and efficiency are not universal concepts: there are important cultural differences that one needs to bear in mind to make sure that customers feels totally at ease, giving them the feeling that they are receiving only the very best, top-level service. “Those dealing with hospitality have to have a multi-cultural approach – explain the concierge. This is one of the most difficult but also one of the most fascinating aspects of our job. While an American gentleman usually enjoys receiving information enhanced by some sort of anecdote, a Russian might view this as being overly familiar. An approach that an Arab businessman might find efficient and dynamic might not appeal to his oriental ‘counterpart’ , for whom the word calm is synonymous with authoritativeness, meaning that, in this case, the same approach might give the impression of being haphazard and not particularly reassuring. Recognizing these invisible boundaries is important and part of our expertise: here at the Park Hyatt Milano we are trained to be aware of even the smallest detail and each day we work towards making sure that the guest perceives this excellence, ‘translated’ so to speak, into his/her own language.”
A reference point, both in an out of the hotel
But what does excellence mean? Acting as a reference point for the client while inside the hotel, satisfying his/her every need during his/her stay is not excellence, explain the concierge: that is the very least we can do. If anything, excellence is managing to become his/her reference point even outside the hotel, while the guest is exploring the city and even when he/she leaves, at least until another hotel takes over.
“We’ve had the experience – they say – of a loyal customer, travelling on a tour around Europe, calling us, from Paris, and asking us to help him relocate a piece of luggage lost somewhere in France: we had no doubts that our Parisian colleagues would have been able to help him with just as much professionalism, but we didn’t hesitate for a moment. If a customer, despite no longer staying at our hotel, feels a need to apply to us in an emergency, we don’t argue: we get down to business, we use all our contacts and we help him.” For this reason, if a guest leaves Milan to travel to Venice, it goes without saying that the concierge of the Park Hyatt Milano also handles the job of procuring a gondola for him on his arrival. If you leave Lombardy for Tuscany, the job of arranging entertainment on your arrival in Florence, also falls to your Milanese concierge.
“Once someone called me at the last minute asking me to find tickets to Bocelli’s concert in Florence”, a concierge reminisces. “All the tickets had obviously been sold out, it was my day off and I was playing tennis. I stopped playing then and there, I alerted my contacts and I managed to get hold of the tickets. There would not have been any point in saying ‘it’s my day off’ or ‘Florence is not my area’: a relationship is based on trust, either you’re always available or it’s as if you weren’t there at all.”
This kind of trust is even more important when it’s not simply a question of finding concert tickets but, on the contrary, handling more unusual requests. “We pride ourselves on being able to bring seemingly impossible dreams to reality, like, for example, locating a private jet in just a few hours. However, we sometimes find ourselves dealing with more delicate issues like the time that we saved an Orthodox Jewish customer from embarrassment when he found himself in a pickle because, for religious reasons, he was unable to make a payment on Saturday.”
However, among the list of priority characteristics where the concierge team are concerned, discretion has fundamental importance. This includes the ability never to seem too surprised, amused, perplexed or ingratiating, even if the requests received might well lend themselves to serving as good anecdotes to be shared with colleagues at dinnertime.
Like that of a Russian customer who, after attending a performance at La Scala and having had the misfortune of finding himself sitting behind a woman with a bouffant hairstyle, asked his concierge to procure new tickets for the following evening. This time making sure to reserve the entire sector in order to ensure that no-one was sitting in front of him. Said and done!
Designed for everyone
The Park Hyatt Milano prides itself on not merely being considered a business hotel. And it is, in fact, making every effort to increasingly differentiate its offer, by devoting more and more attention to families. Its new format is already paying off: in summer, families account for almost half of its new clientèle. Hence, the introduction of a number of special new services apparent in even the smallest things like a complete offer for families with children (including an adorable personalized version of the classic ‘do not disturb’ to be hung on the door) and the VID (very important dog) program dedicated to guests arriving to stay with their dogs. One of the latest facilities offered by Park Hyatt Milano is the new Spa by Sisley, a unique oasis dedicated to pure relaxation and luxury.
Park Hyatt Milano
Via Tommaso Grossi, 1
T: +39 02 88211234