Although its position in the heart of the business district makes it a go-to destination for business travelers, the Hilton Milan is also a favourite with leisure travelers in search of a vibrant, contemporary lifestyle.
The Hilton Milan has given itself a brand-new look. The first step of the extensive renovation project involved updating its 320 rooms to create more functional spaces while at the same time showcasing the cutting-edge design that this fashion-oriented city is known for. Phase two of the project saw the renovations of the lobby, lounge bar and restaurant. The Hilton Milan may be reinventing itself, but rest-assured that this new look remains true to the high quality and standards that are synonymous with the Hilton brand.
The restyling of the hotel capitalized on the creativity and ingenuity of Milanese craftsmanship – recognized worldwide as first in class of interior design – reinterpreting its spaces to offer customers all the comforts of home. It’s not a coincidence Hilton’s slogan is a “home away from home;” the brand strives to communicate a sense of comfort and familiarity through elegant, customized interior décor elements.
“The two-year refurbishment project enhanced the property with a trendy touch. The restyling of the lobby and restaurant alone required an investment of approximately two million euros. However, our ongoing investments in the property highlight our commitment to continually improving the guest experience” commented Hilton Milan’s General Manager Nassos Papazoglou who was appointed to the position in 2014 after working with the Hilton Group for nine years. “We have also invested heavily in green technology and sustainability,” continues Papazoglou. “For example, the rooms are equipped with a system that turns off the energy when it is not needed. The windows are covered with a special transparent film that, without compromising the beautiful sunlight of a summer day, prevents overheating during the hottest months, allowing us to reduce the energy needed for air conditioning. Our rooms are equipped with low-energy mini-bars and energy-efficient light bulbs, which consume 40 and 50% less energy. Additionally, during periods of low occupancy, we even close off some of the floors. Regarding food, 50% of the produce used in our kitchens is locally sourced, and water consumption is monitored daily to save energy and reduce waste.”
But their efforts do not end here. The Hilton Milan participates in important global environmental initiatives such Earth Hour. “This year we turned off the lights in the lobby and the bar and hosted a candlelit aperitivo,” says Papazoglou, who, during peak periods, heads a staff of 170 people. “Our entire team is vested in the hotel’s commitment to protecting the environment. In fact, many of the energy-saving practices that we have implemented were suggested by members of our staff. The combination of such a collaborative, dedicated team and our enviable location really gives the Hilton Milan a winning hand. We’re just steps away from the central railway station, which means this is 4-star luxury establishment that is strategically positioned in the epicenter of Milan’s innovation and development, rubbing shoulders with skyscrapers, modern industry, and business.”
Guest satisfaction bar none
While it’s true that a team of polite and friendly staff is one of the key components of guest satisfaction, at the Hilton Milan the concept of ‘looking after’ guests staying at the hotel is paramount. The hotel’s most important goal is to ensure that each guest enjoys an ‘unforgettable experience’ from the time of arrival until breakfast on the day of departure. “Customer feedback is a very effective tool for understanding trends and identifying how we can improve service. Repeat customers account for more than 50% of our clientele, so recognizing our guests and knowing what they need to make their stay comfortable is key; that personal connection really helps them feel at home when they are with us,” explains Riccardo Bombaci, Director of Operations, who coordinates front desk, housekeeping, food&beverage, maintenance and IT activities. Our staff has been trained about the concept of ‘making it right’. This offers employees an opportunity to take initiative, to ‘do the right thing, at the right time’, to take action and be flexible.
We have also implemented a “Lobby Ambassador” program which gives staff members the opportunity to spend two hours in the lobby in order to observe the hotel through the eyes of a guest; the lobby ambassador circulates among the guests and chats with them in order to see the hotel’s spaces and evaluate the services through their eyes.”
Bleisure: where work meets leisure
With plenty of repeat customers, 40% of Hilton Milan’s clientele is comprised of business and Mice travellers, while the remaining 60% are leisure travellers. Furthermore, the concept of bleisure is rapidly gaining ground, supported by the HHonors card which offers business travelers the opportunity of a free stay for a second guest. “Our international clientele, which represents the majority, tends to stay on for the weekend even if they are here for business purposes,” says Business Development Manager Concetta Schiano Lomorilello. Our number one market is the United States, followed by Italy and then Great Britain and Japan; however China, India and the Asian markets are growing rapidly. We even have dedicated rooms and breakfast corners featuring products and amenities designed specifically for different nationalities. Green certification, including ISO certification, environmental impact and community support, is important for our foreign market. We responded with our ‘Meet with Purpose’ program, a concept that incorporates environmentally-friendly practices and healthy lifestyle choices into the meetings and events that we host. This includes everything from reducing waste, to encouraging healthy eating through light, balanced meals featuring seasonal, locally-sourced produce to mindfulness options like relaxation sessions or yoga classes at the end of an event.”
The hotel in an App
Giorgia Acquati, the hotel’s Marketing and e-commerce Manager explained to us that the hotel continues to make investments on multiple fronts, including technology and web-based activities. “ In addition to our multi-lingual website – now available in Arabic, Chinese and Japanese – and our newsletter, we work with bloggers and social media influencers and we have updated our App, which is now even more user-friendly. Smartphone users can check in online and even choose their room. Upon arrival, guests can simply pick up their key from the front desk (in America, guests who have booked their room through an app, now receive a QrCode to unlock their room, an option that will shortly also be available in Italy). We also respond promptly to posts and reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking, and when it comes to social media, we have dedicated hashtags and dynamic Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts where we publish all of our latest news and interact with our customers. One time, a follower of ours commented on a photo we had posted that featured our delicious cupcakes. A few months later, we noticed that this customer’s name was on roster of incoming guests. As a token of our appreciation, we made sure that, on his arrival, the cupcakes were waiting for him in his room!”
But virtual social spaces is only part of the picture; the hotel also makes great efforts to promote on-site socializing first and foremost by making use of its terrace. “Every Wednesday in the summer we host an open happy hour says Maité De Vlieghere, the hotel’s Food & Beverage Manager, who heads a team of 23 staff members. Concept 45, the new lobby restaurant, is also open to outside guests. It is mainly a lunch destination with a great business strategy that offers healthy, low-calorie dishes at affordable prices. Our ‘Extraordinary Breakfast’ is also popular with Milanese locals who enjoy selecting dishes from our many ‘themed’ corners such as Arab to Middle Eastern, vegan, Asian, gluten-free and vegetarian options.” In addition to its wide-ranging cuisine, the hotel also offers extensive event spaces. The team at the Hilton Milan can organize standing buffet dinners for up to 400 guests and seated dinners for 200 people at its brand new space. Alternately, the terrace can host up to 300 people for coffee breaks or trendy happy hours. Lastly, for lively get-togethers or sophisticated after-dinner drinks, the Lounge Bar overlooking the lobby is open 24/7.
Food on the 45th parallel
A meal at Concept 45, the new restaurant at the Hilton Milan whose name is taken from the 45th parallel that crosses Italy, takes customers on a journey through the Italian peninsula, with a focus on Northern Italian cuisine. “I am a native of Piedmont, with Veneto origins on my mother’s side. I offer local specialties upgraded with a contemporary twist and enhanced by my own personal touch,” says Paolo Gherardi, the restaurant’s executive chef who heads a team of 12 cooks. The most popular dishes on the menu? “Typical dishes, things like ‘risotto alla Milanese with ossobuco and tiramisu tend to be the top picks” concludes Girardi, who collaborates with the Mamma Food association, an organization that helps differently-abled people access the labour market. The kitchen staff at the Hilton currently includes two differently-abled employees.
>> Official website: www3.hilton.com
Article by Simona P.K. Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz
Photos by Casotti/Sardano