Bang in the middle of the peak festive season, I decided to make a weekend trip with the family. The North was too far, the South too muggy, Goa overbooked, and your procrastinating columnist was left with no option but the usual last resort (no pun intended) for any Mumbaikar: Lonavala. I scanned the travel sites, balked at the room rates and unenthusiastically settled for two nights at an adventure park. It seemed vaguely interesting — rides, kids’ activities and, most important, availability on the weekend. The project is the brainchild of a Mumbai architect, who is generally better known for his office furniture. So I landed up at this 36-acre resort, parents and children in tow, with no real expectations.
Now I won’t go into the details of the immaculately plush rooms, even at the base category that I had booked. A lot of resorts by leading global brands offer the same. I won’t do justice if I try to describe how thrilled the kids were with the dozens of outdoor rides and activities that the park had put together. One has to experience it for oneself.
What I do want to talk about is the attitude of the few hundred people that this adventure resort employed. From the time we checked in till we left, I probably interacted with 50-plus employees. Bellboys, housekeeping staff, waiters, F&B managers, chauffeurs and so on. Each of them displayed the same single-minded focus to ensure that every guest had a good time. They were polite, attentive, prompt, engaged and passionate about their work. But you know, even that’s not that big a deal — good training programmes and appropriate incentive structures in any service organisation can probably inculcate such behaviour.
What was amazing was that the employees could take decisions. Within the broad parameters of common sense and good judgment, they were seemingly entitled to make decisions keeping the customer’s interest in mind. So when my mother felt unwell to go to the prepaid breakfast buffet and the resort rules did not allow for it to be served in her room on a complimentary basis, the restaurant attendant packed up a feast so that we could take it to her — no charge. When the F&B manager saw that the kids had barely nibbled at their food, he took a call to not charge the children for the dinner meal. Chauffeurs took detours, room service got extra water, guards opened doors — everyone was just doing the right thing — happily and proudly.
The owner-architect apparently visits the resort at least once a week and scans it like a hawk, looking out for issues with an uncanny attention to detail. I tried researching his company but couldn’t locate a distinct organisation structure anywhere, so there is probably little bureaucracy. And maybe that’s one of the reasons they have managed to achieve what so few service organisations can — employee empowerment. The employees can do the right thing so they are happy and, consequently, so are the customers.