Disclaimer: We have no affiliation with the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel. This blogpost was written without any prompting, remuneration or coercion (just kidding...!) from the hotel. We simply think that others should know...
In our line of work, we get asked to put up ikebana arrangements in many different places. When we do jobs at hotels and other "posh" places, most of the time it's straightforward business. This is where you need to set up. You'll find what you need there. Get the job done in time. With courtesy. Pretty much par for the course and we expect nothing more really. Sometimes, we do get treated like the hired help...like when we receive "extra" instructions like "Don't mess up the carpet. That's expensive." We take it all in stride and move on...besides, come to think of it, we are the hired help anyway. No hard feelings.
So, what a delightful surprise it was to arrive at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront and to be treated like guests! Our buckets of flowers and boxes of equipment were brought in by a porter in a shiny hotel cart, right through the front lobby! (We had been half-expecting to be asked to go through the service entrance...and of course, to haul our stuff in by ourselves.) When we reached the venue, it turned out the ballroom doors were still locked. The bellhop (who probably had nothing to do with the event planning part of the hotel business) stayed with us and made hundreds of phone calls (so we exaggerate a bit...^_^ ) until the right person with the right key came. We were in good hands!
The following day, when we came back to clean up after the event, the same hospitality met us. The service was above and beyond, despite the fact that we were not there to be served! The bellhop who escorted us helped clean up the flowers and discard the leftover water from the containers. We told him that we knew this was no longer part of his job(and to the cynics out there...no, no supervisors hovering around! ^_^ )and so it was OK to leave us; but he simply replied that he wanted to help as much as he could!
The spirit of omotenashi (hospitality and then some...)* is alive and and well at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront. We salute management and staff for creating such a wonderful environment. With this one short experience, the Marriott has endeared itself to us. Guess which hotel we'll be recommending the next time we have guests from Japan?
*Japanese omotenashi is explained quite well in this article: http://www.wattention.com/archives/omotenashi-the-heart-of-japanese-hospitality/
See the finished arrangement here.
(Photos by the ikebana shop. All rights reserved.)