Picture_1I’m still in shock and not sure if I dreamed this experience or if I stumbled through some type of wormhole into an alternate universe where hotels actually cared about providing great customer service.

Here’s the story:

I’m in Phoenix last week facilitating a long-range planning meeting for the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association. We’re staying at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix.

I’ve been to Phoenix many times before, but hadn’t heard of this resort. Like many others, it’s beautiful. Checking in, the bellman who took me to my room was extremely friendly and attentive. But I’ve had friendly and attentive bellmen at other properties, so that didn’t make a huge impact on me. My room was really nice, but I’ve had really nice rooms before, too.

Without a doubt the Royal Palms staff provided great service all over the resort. But, like most WOW experiences, they did something beyond great service that opened my eyes.

I’m allergic to mango. I’m REALLY allergic to mango. We’re talking stab-myself-with-an-EpiPen-and-get-to-the-emergency-room-ASAP allergic to mango. I need to be on the alert for mango when eating anywhere.

During our lunchbreak on Wednesday I noticed some orange sauce in the salad, so I asked the wait-person if it was mango. He said no, it was made with oranges. "Are you allergic to mango, sir?" he asked. Yes, I replied, and that was the end of that conversation.

The next day, we break for lunch again. An entirely different wait-person sets a salad in front of me and with no prompting says, "This doesn’t have any mango in it, sir." I’m stunned. I look around. The wait-person from the day before is nowhere to be seen and after checking, it’s his day off. I find out later it’s part of the customer service system for all the staff to stay on top of such things and share important information about the guests.

Pretty amazing, if you ask me. But it didn’t end there. That evening I call room service. What’s simple and not-too-filling? I ask. "I would suggest the club sandwich, sir. What type of side item would you like?" I ask him if the fries are any good. "They’re perfect. I guarantee it."

Perfect fries? I respond that he’s probably setting my expectations too high. "Sir, if they’re not perfect, you don’t pay for dinner. I personally guarantee that."

20 minutes later, he delivered my dinner. "Please try a french fry, sir, and tell me if it’s not perfect."

It was perfect. The best french fries I’ve ever had. (The sandwich was darn good, too.)

Others at the meeting shared their own stories of awesome customer service at the Royal Palms. And I have no doubt that, like me, they’re sharing those stories with their friends.

A hotel that gives a crap about customers? I’ve had some really great personal hotel experiences before, but they seemed to be solitary events. This time it actually looks like the Royal Palms cares. It’s GOT to be some type of alternate universe.