Thursday, December 08, 2011

Auberge du Vieux-Port

The Auberge du Vieux-Port is where I've stayed in Montreal, four times now (only two trips, but I've stayed on the way out and on the way back each time.)

I chose the hotel from the Internet. It looked like it was in an interesting area (old part of the city) and it was within walking distance of the train station. (But don't try to walk it with a suitcase, it's not that close.)

It's a nice hotel - small, not a chain, nice old building. It's a little pricey, but this is the big city, few hotels are cheap, and the ones that are, you probably don't want to stay at.

The restaurant is also nice. It's not too fancy, no white table cloths, but it's a comfortable place and the food and service are excellent. There are lots of great restaurants in Montreal, but when you arrive late and too tired to go out, it's nice to have a good restaurant right in the hotel. They also have a nice roof top terrace lounge for the summer time.

But what has really made me enjoy coming here is the staff, especially the restaurant manager, Zach Suhl. The first time I stayed here I was sitting at the bar having my free welcome drink (a good way to get people into the restaurant) and he came over and introduced himself and chatted for a few minutes. Every time he's seen me since then he has made a point of saying hello. And amazingly, he remembers who I am and makes a point of mentioning something personal. For example, one time he mentioned they had some new vegetarian menu options, and another time mentioned that he had recently had some other guests from Saskatchewan.

I don't like it when staff force an artificial friendliness, pretending to be your buddy even though you can tell they really couldn't care less. But at the same time I don't like being treated totally impersonally, like a cog in a machine. To me, Zach strikes a perfect balance - he remembers me, chats briefly, but doesn't pretend to be my "buddy". This last time he sent over a free drink because I'm a regular customer.

He also acts like I think a restaurant manager should act - he's actually in the restaurant rather than just the back office. And he doesn't just observe or greet people. He'll seat people, take a drink order, even help clear a table. And while he talks to people, he doesn't get carried away at it, he keeps it brief and returns to watching the restaurant.

The hotel staff are also good - for example, as I was checking in this time, the concierge said "You are in the same room as last time. Are you happy with that room?" (Each of the rooms is different.) I don't think he remembered me like the restaurant manager. He probably had a list of arriving guests and heard me give my name as I was checking in. But it's still impressive that his paperwork showed that I'd been there before and which room, and that he made good use of that information.

Of course, nothing is perfect. At the same time the concierge was impressing me, the woman checking me in was just going through the motions. She either didn't pay attention to my having been there before, or she didn't care. She just gave the standard spiel for new guests - where the restaurant was, where the elevator was, etc. She probably thought she was doing her job well, but unfortunately, she was doing it without thinking.

Once more, I find myself wondering how I and my staff at Axon measure up. Are we doing as good a job as Zach and the concierge? Or are we just going through the motions like the woman who checked me in?

If you're looking for a place to stay in Montreal, I'd definitely recommend Auberge du Vieux-Port. And say hi to Zach for me!

No comments:

Post a Comment