Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bring a Flask

Day one of The Orchid went fairly smoothly. I was hounded for my use of "you guys" repeatedly, but I think my manager, Jenny, is becoming more humoured by the fact that my voice raises an octave whenever I talk to guests. It's all about baby steps with this job! That is, it's all about baby steps until it come to room, rules, and rates memorization. Tomorrow will mark my sixth day on the job and already I am looking at a test (yes, an actual paper test) on all thirty-six guest rooms and nine-suites at The Orchid. This test will consist of a list of room numbers and I will have to know the code, bed structure, view, and on/off season rates of each room. Whoa. In theory, each front desk agent should get to the point where Jenny will say, "What is room 218?" and we should be about to answer, "That is the Fudge Suite. It has a king size bed, sitting AREA, wet bar, and looks over the marina, Fort Mackinac, the governor's mansion, and East Bluff (row of pretty houses)." (And for those of you who care, that description of 218 is spot on! I'm pretty impressed with myself although I didn't start memorizing rates until last night soooo...if you call me, your room is free!)

And now we once again turn to the most entertaining aspect of The Orchid: Dahlia. Dahlia, bless her heart, is a hot mess. She and I worked the 3:30-10pm shift together last night and all check-ins and phone calls were left to me. What was Dahlia doing at the time? Well I couldn't honestly say, but she was usually either sitting beside or standing right behind me, blowing her nose loudly. Once our manager left for the day at 8pm, Dahlia finally answered the phone.

Side note: In order to understand this next part, there is one minor thing you all must know. If you book ahead of time, your hotel room is either assigned the day of or day before your arrival. However, there are times when maintenance issues, pushy guests, and a plethora of other reasons cause you to be placed in another room. Luckily, since you did not know your room number to begin with, you are none the wiser. This really isn't a big deal, but there were times at the Inn where I had preassigned a guest to a first floor room, but then unforeseen circumstances came up and the guest was placed on the second floor, towards the back of the building. For this reason, guests are not told their room number until they arrive. (Unless you're a regular and specifically request "Room 325", etc etc.)

So Dahlia answers the phone and it is Mr. Dwight wanting to double check that we have his reservation for tomorrow night. I show Dahlia how to look this up in the computer and then hear her say, "Yes, Mr. Dwight, I do see that we have you checking in tomorrow to room 208. This is a GS1 room, which will either come with a king bed or a balcony and you have two persons in your party."

First of all, Mr. Dwight does not need to know he is in room 208 because what if we have to move him to 312 for some reason? Will he be pissed that he suddenly has an extra flight of stairs to climb when, as of last night, he only had one flight (there is no elevator in the hotel because it is a historical building)? And "GS1" is a code for a certain type of room we have (which comes with either a king or a queen bed and some of the kings have balconies, but all of the queens have balconies -- look who's not going to fail her test!). The guest does not need to know this. And as soon as you bring up "a king OR a balcony" the guest is going to wonder, "Why can't I have both?" (FYI, room 208 DOES have a king AND a balcony and looks out over the roof of the building next to us and towards the marina, fort, mansion, etc etc.) Basically, had Dahlia known the colour of the wallpaper I am sure she would have told Mr. Dwight this as well, which is just not necessary and could led to a very grumpy Mr. Dwight.

Dahlia then took another call and, once again, went into way too much detail while trying to book a room for some lady. I was trying to study the room map at the time, but I was able to catch enough to know that Dahlia was trying to place this lady in a specific room, which is REALLY not something we do at The Orchid since our rooms can be so vastly different and we won't know which specific room is available until the day of your arrival (for example, you ask for a garden side room with the side porch; some of these have a king bed and some have a queen. We will note your preference and try to get you your bed of choice, but until the day of your arrival there is no way of knowing.). Dahlia then told the lady that she would investigate further and asked that she call the hotel tomorrow and hopefully Dahlia would have found the perfect accommodation. My roomie then spent the next hour and a half obsessing over a room that could fit three people. I tried to help her and speed the process along, but the hitch was that all three people wanted their own bed. During this time I was also getting up frequently to greet guests returning from dinner and answering what questions they had. Dahlia remained planted firmly in her seat trying to figure out just what room would be perfect in every way (bed structure, view, and price) for these people. Finally, I told Dahlia to just stick them in a suite with a king bed and a pullout couch that would fit two people and that way only two of the guests would have to share a bed, but at least it could be a big bed.

"But she's not going to like that," Dahlia said.
"The mom."
"What mom?"
"Of the reservation. I know these people. She won't be happy."
"You know the woman who just called?"
"No. That's a separate reservation."
Now I was really confused because we hadn't had any phone calls since the woman Dahlia had spoken to. "Who is this reservation for?" I asked.
"My boyfriend and his family."

It took every ounce of strength in my body not to collapse to my knees and screech, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!"

"I'm just going to have to go look at the rooms," Dahlia said, grabbing the master key and heading upstairs. By this point the Night Auditor, George*, had arrived and once Dahlia was gone he asked me, "Aren't you glad that's what you get to go home with, too?" I asked him to start smuggling a flask to work.

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