The Boston Harbor Hotel is the highest-ranked medium business in this year’s Top Places to Work survey, and the managers at the Boston waterfront hotel, one of just three five-star properties in the city, know that in order to deliver the highest level of service, workers need to feel like five-star employees. The hotel pulls out all the stops for its guests — filling up bathtubs with pink champagne if they so desire — and this VIP treatment extends to its employees.
-- Katie Johnston, Globe Staff Next
The lobby of the Boston Harbor Hotel has Italian marble floors, elegant five-foot-tall arrangements of orchids and beach grass, and views of of luxury yachts and cruise ships docked outside. Amid all this opulence are black-and-white portraits of 21 employees, many of them immigrants, who have worked at the hotel since it opened 25 years ago: Beena Jaikaran in the laundry room, Carmen Dejesus in room service, Yok Lam from housekeeping.
Shown: A framed picture of employee Brian Billotte who has worked at the hotel for 25 years. The hotel recently celebrated its 25th year in business, and recognized employees that have been with the hotel for 25 years by displaying plaques all around the hotel. Next
Managers listen to employees’ opinions, don’t second-guess their decisions, and reward “never-say-no” behavior, such as the room service attendant who ran out to buy gluten-free bread for a guest. There is always a pot of rice cooking in the free employee cafeteria for the many Asian workers who like to eat rice every day; the menu, ranging from salmon fillet to pulled pork to marinated flank steak, is created by Daniel Bruce, the executive chef who runs the hotel’s swanky Meritage restaurant and Rowes Wharf Sea Grille.
Left: Lilla Razack ties together slippers in housekeeping. Next
“The women in housekeeping who came here not speaking English, that just came to America, and now they own homes and their kids are in medical school, and they’re working alongside people that they’ve worked with for many, many years,” said General Manager Jonathan Crellin. “They’ve been the backbone of the culture and the feeling of the family spirit.” Next
“They understand their internal guests, us, just as much as they understand the guests that walk through the door,” said chef concierge Nathan Goff, who has worked at the hotel for 10 years.
From left, Tom Deslauriers, Elise Berry, and Charles McBride work the front desk. Next
The word employees use over and over again to describe the hotel is “family,” and the abundance of longtime workers — nearly half of the hotel’s 251 employees have worked there for more than 10 years — is a big reason for that. Many of them came from other countries seeking a better life, and they found it, thanks in part to the hotel’s benefits — including health insurance, language classes, tuition reimbursement, and grant assistance.
Left: Chef Daniel Bruce cuts a halibut at the Boston Harbor Hotel. At right is sous chef Justin Mosher. Next
“I am originally from Guatemala City. I saw this opportunity when the hotel opened 25 years ago and have stayed here ever since. In Guatemala, I was a mapmaker, working with my hands, and so I really like this job, where I also am very hands-on,” said Jorge Romero, a maintenance engineer at the hotel.
“I help keep guest rooms in good shape, whether it’s the walls, plumbing, lights, or whatever the equipment. Right now my main duty is taking care of the furniture. If anything is chipped or damaged, I refurbish, paint, or fix it as needed. Pleasing the guests is our number one concern. I want to make sure we have no complaints.” Next
Every month, the hotel, owned by Boston’s Pyramid Hotel Group, honors employees’ Milkshake Moments — named for the book “The Milkshake Moment” by management consultant Steven Little, who wasn’t able to order a milkshake at a hotel because it wasn’t on the menu, even though it turned out the kitchen did have ice cream and milk. Hotel employees who go the extra mile to create “milkshakes” for their guests are honored at a monthly employee meeting.
Shown: Maggie Ng, who has worked at the hotel for 25 years, sorts towels in the laundry room. Next
Nathan Goff, the concierge, won the Milkshake award for cutting up a linen napkin from the restaurant to create a pocket square for a groomsman who realized shortly before a wedding that his was missing. Goff, 33, knew that management would back him up, even as he was in mid-snip and realized, “Oh God, this is an expensive napkin.”
Shown: Helen Yuan hotel seamstress Next
Peter Nikitas, senior vice president at Fidelity Investments Institutional Services in Smithfield, R.I., estimates that he has stayed at the hotel about 50 times on business in the past year — and he wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else.
“It is 1,000 percent about the people,” he said. “When the lady who brings me a pot of coffee and an omelet in the morning tells me she’s worked there for 18 years, it tells me everything I need to know about what kind of a place this is.” Back to the beginning
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