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Ritz Carlton – Service Samurais

Rebecca SecorComment

I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton San Juan. As a self-proclaimed "service snob," this is an experience I’ve always dreamed of. The day finally arrives, we pull up to the doors and the doormen open the door with a smile on their faces and warmly greet me "Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton." Ahhh… heaven surely awaits.

I half expected to see employees dancing across the floors, stumbling over each other to wait on their guests hand and foot – even fighting to place a napkin across their lap… I anticipated super heroic stuff.


The lobby was busy, yet calm and serene. Couples were enjoying drinks and appetizers in the lobby bar, guests were checking in, it seemed pretty much like most other hotel lobbies. We checked in, put our bags in the room, changed and headed out to hit the beach. On our way we passed several hotel employees, all were very kind and warm… but still no heroics. At this point I was starting to feel a little disappointed.

We walked around the pool, then came to a quite grand gate to the beach. As soon as we passed through, we were greeted by a very helpful employee who set out chairs and towels for us on the beach. "OK," I thought to myself, "That’s a little better." We laid on the beach for a good bit, had some dinner then turned in for the night. We woke up in the morning, ate a lovely breakfast in bed, visited the beach, had lunch… basically relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. Everything was wonderful… so wonderful that I almost missed it… The Ritz-Carlton mystique.

It was so subtle, yet present in every aspect of the experience. Every, and I mean every, employee had a calm, quiet, yet extremely precise and efficient way of working. They were more like service samurais than super heroes. Proud to serve their guests, friendly, quick to serve, all groomed very nicely, not a hair out of place. None of the employees looked tired or overworked. No one was rushing around or yakking with their co-workers. It was crazy how consistent the service was.

When your drink was empty, someone was there to bring you another. When you walked up to the pool and were looking for a chair, someone was there to find a good tanning spot and cover your chair with soft towels. When you were finished with your plate, someone was there to take it out of your way. When you ordered a glass of wine, they quietly brought over an elegant tray of nibbles (seriously the marinated olives were to die for!). There was nothing heroic about what happened…just really consistent, high quality service.

Now that I’ve experienced the service at the Ritz… I must know how they do it!

I’ll have this opportunity this spring at the 2ndAnnual Credit Union Net Promoter Conference – Loyalty Live conference in Las Vegas. Jeff Hargett, Corporate Director, Learning and Content Delivery at the Ritz-Carlton, will be presenting "Radar On – Antenna Up," which focuses on the important elements and subtle nuances of delivering excellent customer service in a consistent manner.

I must learn the secrets of the service samurais.


Rebecca Secor is the Program Director at Member Loyalty Group (MLG), a CUSO formed to help credit unions grow and prosper through member loyalty. She is a Certified Net Promoter Associate and has worked in credit unions for over 10 years. Before joining MLG, she was the Marketing Manager at Educators Credit Union in Racine, WI and a member of Filene i3.