The View From The Salthouse
The physical reception that a guest receives when first entering a hotel goes a long way to forming an opinion of the whole hotel. Here our editor discusses with the Salthouse’s head receptionist – Francoise LaVergne – our sometimes-misguided perception of reception:
Fran to her friends (and magazine editors!), but ‘Granny Franny’ to her work colleagues; due to becoming a very recent grandma, has been at the Salthouse for 3½ years. Rising from receptionist to head receptionist due to a self-confessed meticulous personality, Fran multitasks with apparent ease.
“Whilst from the outside the role may seem a bit of a ‘doddle’, there is a huge amount of organisation involved” explains Fran. “Thorough and proper planning of guests’ stays is key, whilst still answering the constant, daily phone calls and dealing with requests face to face”. Fran runs a team of 3, across 2 main shift patterns spanning 7am to 11pm.
I confess quickly to having tried ‘it’ on as a hotel guest at various venues in the past and own up to the main sin being attempting early check-ins. “Lots of people will ask the question” admits Fran “and we will always try to accommodate requests for a room key prior to the stated 2pm check-in time. If housekeeping signs-off the room earlier then it can help to alleviate congestion at 2pm, but it certainly can’t be guaranteed”.
Without an official Concierge, I ask Fran how much of the working day is devoted to the role of Tourist Information adviser and I learn that Fran herself held that job role in France, prior to settling back in the UK. “It’s part of the role and with my background, I will find the answer to a guest’s query and get them a result” says Fran. “I will happily recommend alternative restaurants to our in-house Eaterie, both along the harbour and up in to the Saints. The team has also acted as chauffeurs; driving guests to the station on a couple of occasions when a taxi hasn’t arrived”.
I press Fran for information on previous or regular VIP guests; footballers, theatre performers and the like and I receive the answer that I should have expected….a motion of fingers zipping up lips, followed by “no comment”. The hotel has a strict confidentiality policy and quite right too.
Fran finishes our chat by stating that it’s all about “working with the guest” to ensure the best stay possible. It seems to me as though the reception that guests are destined to receive at the Salthouse will indeed form a great first perception.