Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Visit to the Mandarin Oriental Spa

After our stay last month at the newly opened Mandarin Oriental Boston, I wrote a lengthy review detailing our experience. Our experience at the hotel overall was positive, but we noted a number of areas which disappointed. I then sent an E-mail to Susanne Hatje, the General Manager of the hotel. Ms. Hatje responded promptly and graciously and we set up a time to talk on the phone. We had a pleasant 15 minute conversation about our visit and my review. I especially appreciated the way she took note of specific areas of concern and engaged in deeper conversation about each of them. It was clear to me while talking to her that she read every word of my review and did significant research to seek to understand what happened.

One specific area of disappointment for us was that the spa wasn't yet open during our visit. As a token of her appreciation for my feedback, Ms. Hatje extended an invitation to me and Deanna for a complimentary Two-Hour visit to the Spa in their Sanctuary Couples Suite. We thought this was a great way for us to re-visit the hotel -and- experience the spa now that it was open.

Ms. Hatje sent us a very nice letter thanking me again for the feedback, included contact information for the Spa Director and a fancy gift certificate for our spa visit. A couple of days later, I contacted Sharon Holtz and set up an appointment. She advised that we should show up 45 minutes ahead of time so we could experience all their spa has to offer.

Our spa visit was yesterday (thanks again go to Aunt Sarah for her amazing babysitting coverage.) We arrived curbside at the hotel 50 minutes ahead of our appointment and once again the valet service provided by the hotel doorman was flawless. We entered the hotel and were directed to the spa on the 4th floor by friendly hotel employees. When we arrived at the spa, they greeted us with a friendly "Mr. and Mrs. Dwyer?" While we were getting settled, Ms. Holtz came out to say hello and welcome us. They really did an amazing job of making us feel like VIPs.

The spa experience itself was pretty amazing. Not that I have much experience with spas, but I can't imagine one being much nicer than this one. After trading our shoes in for some spa slippers, Deanna and I went our separate ways for 45 minutes. I received a locker and a quick tour of the fabulously appointed "heat and water" facilities. I fooled around in there for a while and then made my way to the relaxation area and enjoyed some trail-mix type snack and bottled water. I rested my eyes for 10 minutes or so and then was rejoined with Deanna in our couples treatment room. It was like a luxuriously appointed hotel room, but instead of a bed and TV there were two treatment tables and tranquility abound. You can read more about the suites here- everything they say is true. We had two incredible therapists- Tegan and Jeffrey. The treatment was really awesome; it was very well done and completely indulgent. I had a great time. In summary, the place was fabulous, the service well coordinated and our treatments thoroughly enjoyable.

At the conclusion of our treatments we hit the showers and rejoined in the waiting area. Ms. Holtz visited again to confirm that we had a great time. Although our gift certificate entitled us to a complimentary treatment, I assumed that gratuity was not included. When I went to the counter and asked for clarification, the friendly woman at the counter said "Your treatment was complimentary, right? We've taken care of the gratuity. You're all set." I thought that was a very nice and complete touch.

After our spa visit we had lunch at Sel De La Terre (in the same building as the Mandarin Oriental, adjacent to L'Espalier.) We then made our way out to the curb where our car was ready for us in just a few moments. Perfect service from beginning to end.

I'd like to thank Ms. Hatje and Ms. Holtz for their gracious hospitality and their kind response to my somewhat critical review. I think they handled the situation very well and I wish them and the hotel much success.

Does this act of generosity on the hotel's part make it more likely for me to consider Mandarin Oriental for our next visit to downtown Boston? Absolutely. It gives me confidence that this hotel can execute well. Now that it has been open for a while, I imagine a lot of the initial kinks have been worked out and regularity and repetition is making for a more relaxed and consistent level of service for guests.
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