Heaven, by Hotel Standards | Observations from a New England Hotelier

People are drawn to hotels.  There’s something about the center of activity in a busy, full service hotel that attracts people from all walks of life globally..

The Parker House hotel in Boston Massachusetts has been open continuously since 1855, and is arguably the oldest continually operating hotel in the United States.

Mark Twain stayed here for a month  in 1877 and he is but one of literally hundreds of celebrities to have made this hotel very well known and appreciated.

Heaven, by Hotel Standards is a book about the history of the Omni Parker House, with information compiled by Susan Wilson.  On page eight of this book,  there’s a wonderful welcome letter from the current general manager, John Murtha, CHA. I had the privilege of meeting John, who is a gracious hotelier.   His letter is sincere and genuine, and  the information about the service of the general managers from 1927 until today helps to demonstrate a longevity and quality of what you seldom find in most brands or hotels today.

In addition to Mark Twain, this book identifies a Who’s Who of celebrities who have been patrons of this hotel   From the age of literature there are writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorn and Longfellow.  From baseball, there are some well known names ranging from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski to David Ortiz.  The hotel has been a center of  of activity in politics with people ranging from Ulysses S Grant, Mayor James Michael Curley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and most recently, and former Governor Deval Patrick as guests.  Boston has a strong theatrical presence in the theater district and hosted a wide range of prominent actors including John Wilkes Booth (of Lincoln assassination infamy)  Sarah Bernhardt, as well as more contemporary entertainers as Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, James Dean, Stevie Nicks, Yo Yo Ma , Rachel Raye and Ben Affleck.

The hotel itself was built by Harvey Parker, who relocated from his family farm in Maine.  The Parker family arrived in America in the 1630s and Harvey did not want to remain in agriculture.  After number of years in Paris, he arrived in Boston and began his first venture into the hospitality business with a restaurant.  The book does a balanced review, explaining the evolution of the family from the restaurant business and to finding a location for and building what became the Parker house.

The Parker House has had a long time reputation for food and hospitality.  It is credited with creating or perfecting Boston Cream pie, lemon meringue pie, Boston Scrod and of course, the Parker House Rolls.  The book shares an anecdote about Eleanor Roosevelt looking and her request for the recipe, which had been a well kept secret until that request in 1933.

Celebrity chefs at this hotel have included television personalities Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Martha  Stewart who all wanted to link their reputation with that of the well-known Parker House.  There are stories in the book of organic farming from local farms, orchards and dairies 100 years before organic cooking became popular in the rest of the world.

The Saturday Club was a literary discussion group and included Henry David Thoreau, Henry Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, diplomat Charles Francis Adams, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and many others, who enjoyed the culinary service and hospitality of the Parker house once a month for a number of years.  Charles Dickens resided in the Parker house during his 1867-68 lecture tour.

The Parker house is located  across the street from the old Boston City Hall and  is two blocks from the state capitol.  Every US president from Grant to Clinton stayed at this hotel at some point during their presidency.  The book and movie the Last Hurrah was based on the experiences and activities of longtime mayor James Michael Curley.  The Kennedy family were regular visitors to the hotel and former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neal is pictured in the book’s preface.

There are interesting interviews with longtime staff and stories about the wonderful jazz greats who performed at this hotel over the years. Some of the staff during the  mid 20th century  included Malcolm X and Ho Chi Min, who worked in the kitchens.

The book also discusses the business aspects of the hotel.  In the chapter called Architecturally Speaking, there are detailed explanations of the transitions and how the hotel evolved and maintained its presence.  There were major changes in operations and styles, with a series of owners over a 50 year period.  Downtown Boston today is very successful for hotels, but hotels were not considered to have a good location downtown in the late 1950s through mid seventies and the Parker House suffered. It did recover with the New England Dunfey family acquisition and management, The Parker House today is an example of exceptional hotel keeping with the Omni name and ownership.

Many grand old hotels today have reputations of ghosts, and the Parker House is no exception.  There are amusing stories of possible sightings from hotel founder Harvey Parker to Charles Dickens. We will have to decide for ourselves if this is fact or fiction.

Pages 105 to 107 lists of dozens of well-known names who enjoyed the hospitality of the Parker House from Mohammed Ali to the Who.

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I began my career as a New England hotelier, working in Vermont and Massachusetts, including at the 1500 room Sheraton Boston.   I worked for the Dunfey Hotels when they owned the Parker House and was interviewed for the #2 manager position.   A crisis at the Dunfey Hotel I was managing in Atlanta prevented that transfer, but I do recall the elegance and history of this fine hotel.  I would have enjoyed being part of the history of this fine hotel.

The title of the book is Heaven, By Hotel Standards, and it is certainly an interesting snapshot of successful and innovative Boston hotel keeping over three centuries

Strongly recommended.

John J Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO

HospitalityEducators
Hogan Hospitality

Success does not come by accident or chance.

Contact us for assistance.

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Kathleen Hogan Ireland Sept 2013John J. Hogan CHA CHE CHO and Kathleen Hogan  MBA CHO are the  co-founders of  HospitalityEducators.com, which was created in 2010 to be a resource for hotel owners and professionals as they sought to improve market share, occupancy, operational efficiency and profitability.

The husband and wife team are transitioning the original membership site concept and evolving the business model today to a focused resource offering consulting, training, and individualized support to both hospitality and other service businesses.   Services include keynote addresses workshops, online support, metrics measurement, marketing and customer service from a group of more than a dozen experienced professionals.   While continuing to serve hospitality, the demand for these types of services is growing and can be personalized.

John Hogan is also the principal of HoganHospitality.com, which provides a range of expert professional services for hotel owners, including professional development for organizations, training, consulting and expert witness services.

John Hogan Sept 2013DSCN0215

Contact information:  Kathleen Hogan  480-436-0283,

John Hogan

602-799-5375 or service@hospitalityeducators.com

Workshops Available include: 

From the Chalkboard to the Front Line

What They Don’t Teach You at Hotel School

Focus:

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  • Hotel Sales
  • Marketing Ideas
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There will always be an ongoing debate on the comparative merits of experience versus the knowledge acquired in formal educational settings.   The best lessons anyone can learn from hotel schools include an awareness of what really occurs on the front line in the actual hospitality setting.  This keynote transitions the academic message to the real world of running a profitable hospitality business.

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Reflections: People Who Made a Difference: Brian Broom, CHA English Hotelier Extraordinaire

Reflections

Brian Broom, CHA, English Hotelier Extraordinaire

My first interaction with Brian came in the late 1970s after a massive hotel fire in Atlanta.  The entire hotel of 400 suites and rooms, 30 conference rooms, two large ballrooms, two restaurants and what had been the number one disco in Atlanta were completely shut down.  While the hotel staff and management received national recognition the following year for its well trained response to the fire, the experience was an eye-opening one for me as the resident manager in rebuilding the facility and the hotel’s reputation.

Based in New England, Brian worked with Dunfey Hotels and many other national companies . Brian was a master project manager with great vision and stamina.  While it might seem simple enough to have had a generous insurance reimbursement, planning from scratch is not nearly as simple as that sounds.  In a period before “ just in time delivery” options and computer simulations, Brian taught and delivered advance planning, intricate and coordinated deliveries and trade construction, with extensive content in quality checklists.  The entire hotel was completely renovated and reopened less than six months after the devastating fire.

Over an eight month period,  Brian shared design insights with the hotel ownership, management, staff  and the insurance company that included his gift of conceptualization at a time far in advance of those shared today on Restaurant Impossible, Hotel Impossible and many other cable offerings.

Brian had a successful career as a consultant, management company owner, designer and entrepreneur.  Brian and his spouse Sheila worked together on many renovations and  projects over a 15 year period with me and others across the US.

The descriptor of the English Hotelier Extraordinaire is used and because Brian used his English perspectives to focus on delighting guests. He was known for using space creatively and efficiently, in operating hotels profitably and for fair business practices.

Time and circumstances intervened and we lost touch. It remains a regret to me that we did not reconnect, as he passed away in that time.   I always found Brian’s standards to be of the highest quality,  his integrity was front and center and I learned a great deal from this consummate professional.

Think back a moment on people who have impacted you and your career – it is worth the time for reflection.

Success in hotels and hospitality does not come by accident or chance.

We can help

John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com or 602-799-5375

 

HospitalityEducators.com was created to help hospitality businesses address problems via a training and information resource site to help you increase your Hotel’s revenue, market share and profitability.  With more than 2,000 pages of tips, guides, best practices, strategies, plans, budgets, videos and resources, HospitalityEducators.com is the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers.  This site can help you solve your problems now!      Read More  

KEYS TO SUCCESS  is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™ , THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™  and Principles for Success.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com   anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense,


 Dr. John Hogan CHA CHE Boston Dec  2010

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of HospitalityEducators.com , which has more than 2000 resource pages and has become the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers. He is also the Principal of HoganHospitality.com, which offers hotel expert witness services and hospitality consulting.

Contact us for assistance – John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com 602-799-5375 HoganHospitality.com : john@hoganhospitality.com

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™, THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™ and Principles for Success.

Reflections….on those who have impacted our lives | Brother Robert Michaud, formerly of Prevost High School, Fall River, Mass

Reflections….

People who made a difference in our lives and impacted our careers

There is one section of HoganHospitality.com that I have begun to  allow me the opportunity to “reflect” on some of those people who have positively impacted my career.  While these reflections will be of people that I have known, I encourage you to think back on the people who contributed to the person you are today.

 

“Our business life is not to get ahead of others,
but to get ahead of ourselves…
to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our today,
to do our work with more force than ever before.”

Stewart B Johnson

This is a reflection on a high school teacher who influenced me in ways I could not anticipate at the time.

_________________________________________________________

5. Brother Robert Michaud,

formerly of Prevost High School,  Fall River, Mass

We all are influenced by teachers at some point in our life.  Brother Robert was on the faculty of an all male Christian high school in southeastern Massachusetts when I attended.  My recollections was that this man, while always cordial, was not particularly outgoing and did not interact with many students outside of the classroom. An important fact for me is that I do know that I find his influence remains with me to this day.  As an English instructor, he insisted on sharing writing styles, challenging ideas, thought processing and exposure to many authors, poets and writers of many nationalities and generations.   I still recall the frustration of a high school junior rewriting an essay or term paper because this instructor insisted that I was capable of better and more.  While the frustrations were real,  the resulting better work was also real.

There were other faculty members who influenced and/or inspired me over the years, particularly at the university level, but this one professional who demanded clarity, focus and substance in writing left an indelible sense of appreciation to me in my work as an educator, author, speaker, and hotelier.

I hope and believe that I said “thank you” formally to Brother Robert after I left high school, and I do know that he was an informal mentor to many of my classmates in the areas of writing and communication.  The high school merged years ago with another following a devastating fire that was a total loss and Brother Robert has long since retired.  I will always appreciate his insistence on quality and his tenacity to drive each of us to just a bit more than we thought we were capable of.

Earlier Reflections

4. Roy Dunfey – Dunfey Hotels
3.  Natividad Cruz – Sheraton Boston 
2.   Louise Avery – Ahead of Her Time – Avery Vermont Inns 
1. “Al Wrisley, PhD, Professor in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration at the University of Massachusetts,

_____________________________________________________________

Success in hotels and hospitality does not come by accident or chance.

We can help

John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com or 602-799-5375

 

HospitalityEducators.com was created to help hospitality businesses address problems via a training and information resource site to help you increase your Hotel’s revenue, market share and profitability.  With more than 1,000 pages of tips, guides, best practices, strategies, plans, budgets, videos and resources, HospitalityEducators.com is the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers.  This site can help you solve your problems now!      Read More  

KEYS TO SUCCESS  is the umbrella title for my 2012 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™ , THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™  and Principles for Success.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com   anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense,


 

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of www.HospitalityEducators.com , which delivers focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.
www.HospitalityEducators.com  is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.

www.HoganHospitality.com
Your Hospitality Resource for the Hotel Owner, Innkeeper, Manager and Hospitality Industry Associations.

 

Reflections from HoganHospitality.com| Roy Dunfey, The Voice of Sincerity at Dunfey Hotels

 

Reflections

Our successes come from the impact that others have had on us over the years. HoganHospitality.com has a section dedicated to sharing and  “reflecting” on some of those people who have positively impacted my career.  While these reflections will be of people that I have known, I encourage you to think back on the people who contributed to the person you are today. ____________________________________________________________
Reflection #4: Roy Dunfey – Dunfey Hotels
I spent the first four years of my career after college with Sheraton Hotels.  I enjoyed the learning experiences at both the 1500 room flagship hotel, the Sheraton Boston and at the older 500+ room Sheraton Houston which was my first assignment away from native New England.   Both of these assignments had positive attributes, but I was an impatient young manager eager to prove myself and quickly!
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I was recruited from Houston to Atlanta, where I rejoined a senior Sheraton manager at the 400 room Dunfey Royal Coach, which eventually became one of the Omni Hotel organization.  This hotel experience gave me tremendous opportunity to work with a growing brand, to be exposed to an exciting new night club concept called TINGLES and to sharpen my organizational skills on many levels.  I also learned a great deal about making renovation decisions profitable and the critical nature of deadlines.

__________________________________________________
The company had a strong commitment to staff and the larger hotels all had active HR departments, progressive policies and ongoing learning for staff.    What always struck me about the Dunfey Hotel brand and company was the sincere commitment to people at all levels, including line level staff and Roy Dunfey became the embodiment of that commitment.   
  __________________________________________________

Roy had a successful career in another industry and joined with his brothers at retirement.   He became an added dimension in HR and the brand ownership, as he would travel from New Hampshire to Georgia, Texas, California, Illinois and all the extended locations several times per year and hold open forums with all staff.  This was before technology made mass communication perhaps easier, but these times also showed who really cared about their staff.
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It impressed me that Roy learned the names and some personal information about so many people.  He became the family face who knew the staff.  He would recall a graduating  student or an illness of a staff member from last year’s visit.  I don’t know how he gathered his sources, but the staffs at those dozens of hotels he visited twice a year knew someone important at the management group felt they were important as individuals.

Roy was not a hotelier, but he represented himself and the Dunfey Family in ways that reached far beyond whatever his title may have been.   It is those kinds of people that leave a lasting impact.
__________________________________________________

What do you do at your hospitality business to make a difference?

Success does not come by accident or chance.

Contact us for assistance.

John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.comor 602-799-5375

HospitalityEducators.com was created to help hospitality businesses address problems via a training and information resource site to help you increase your Hotel’s revenue, market share and profitability.  With more than 800 pages of tips, guides, best practices, strategies, plans, budgets, videos and resources, HospitalityEducators.com is the number 1 website for independent hotel owners and managers.  This site can help you solve your problems now!      Read More 

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Use The Reader Feedback Special to qualify for an annual cost of less than 35 cents (US) per day to regular membership

KEYS TO SUCCESS  is the umbrella title for my 2011 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™ , THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™  and Principles for Success.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com   anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense,


John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of www.HospitalityEducators.com, which delivers focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1. Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  2. Customer Service
  3. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  4. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  5. Medical Lodging Consulting
  6. Sales Management and training
  7. Turn-around and revenue management

If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.www.HospitalityEducators.com  is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.www.HoganHospitality.com
Your Hospitality Resource for the Hotel Owner, Innkeeper, Manager and Hospitality Industry Associations.