Greystone Hotels remains selective in the properties it owns and operates
to ensure guests ‘experience exceptional service.’
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Greystone Hotels takes pride in its hotel ownership and management, which is why over the course of 23 years the company has acquired only 12 properties of which nine are independent boutique-style hotels, one is operated as a Best Western and two are operated as Marriotts. “Our strategy is primarily focused on owning and operating urban boutique hotels in high density, high demand markets. We only acquire hotels that we want to own for a long time,” President Eric Horodas says. “We have our own capital at risk and reinvest back into our properties to keep them sharp and up-to-date.”
Horodas founded Greystone Hotels in 1995 with the vision of creating a hotel company and a collection of properties that projected his preferences for high service levels and standards. The San Francisco-based company owns and manages three- to four-star hotels and inns in California and Oregon that are described as intimate with distinctive custom designed décor and provide high levels of customer service.
“What we are trying to do in our hotels is provide a different experience,” Horodas says. “We strive to give travelers something different when they check in and be pleasantly surprised by the décor and style. We want to provide a connection to the location in which they are traveling.”
For example, when Greystone Hotels purchased the Empress Hotel in La Jolla, Calif., in 2013 the décor was generously described as 1980s traditional. “We spent a lot of time conceptualizing with our designers and came up with the new décor,” Horodas remembers. “Upon entering the hotel, you immediately know you are in southern California and by the beach. The fabrics, artwork and colors in the room have a beachy feel. We chose shutters in the rooms instead of curtains because beachfront homes tend to have shutters.”
The Inn at Union Square in San Francisco was updated in 2016 so the interior mimicked Alma de Bretteville Spreckels’ mansion in Pacific Heights, an affluent neighborhood in the city. Spreckels was a wealthy socialite married to Adolph Spreckels, founder of Spreckels Sugar Company.
“Upon entering the Inn at Union Square, guests feel like they are going into Alma’s mansion as the décor includes cultural references and art from the early 20th Century while combined with modern conveniences like flat screen televisions, complimentary Wi-Fi and upscale marble bathrooms,” Horodas says. “We take the location and bring it inside the hotel.”
Greystone Hotels prides itself on ensuring guests “experience exceptional service.” “In boutique hotels, guests are looking for a more personalized experience,” Horodas says. “They want to be greeted by name and if they are a repeat guest, they want their favorite room set up with their preferred beverage and newspaper.”
Finding the right employees is a challenge, but Horodas says it also varies by location as some of its hotels have employees who have been with the company for more than 10 or 20 years. “There is an interesting book written by Danny Meyer called Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. One of the chapters in Meyer’s book is the 51 Percent Solution,” Horodas says. “Meyer writes about hiring in restaurants – whether its for a maître d’ or busboy – to look for employees who are people-oriented with a passion to serve. The technical skills can be taught.”
Greystone Hotels follows Meyer’s advice in each of its hotels and has trained each of its 600 employees through Signature Worldwide, a third-party provider of on-site customer service training.
Greystone Hotels has made significant investments in technology recently to augment guest service and appeal to the younger travelers. The company partnered with KEYPR, a cloud-based guest experience and management platform for hotels, to put a tablet in every hotel room that greets guests by name and provides information like the time and temperature, as well as additional capabilities.
“As a guest, if you have a service request you can pick up the phone or pick up the tablet to order more towels, for example,” Horodas explains. “That request gets logged in at the front desk and there is a marquee outside each door so that when an employee brings those towels to the room they scan the marquee to note the service request was satisfied. It also allows management to track the time it takes to complete the guest’s request.”
Greystone Hotels also partnered with Daylighted, which offers SmartGallery technology that connects any screen to the art communities through its curated portfolio, in its Empress Hotel, Elan Hotel in Los Angeles and coming soon to The Bristol Hotel in San Diego. “A tablet is mounted underneath the Daylighted screens so guests can view information on the artist and order a reproduction of the art,” Horodas says. “This is an example of technology that enhances the guest experience.”
Behind the scenes, Greystone Hotels implemented Cendyn Hospitality Cloud that offers more data connections than any other CRM SaaS vendor in the hospitality space. “Cendyn combs through some of our guest records, say the Hotel Griffon, for example, which is close to AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play, and sees former guest Joe Smith has stayed at the hotel when the Atlanta Braves played the Giants and invites him to stay again when the Braves are in town,” Horodas says. “To cul this type of data from guest records would take hundreds of people who knows how long to find.”
Greystone Hotels’ strategy is to own and operate its properties for the long-term, which is why it focuses on opportunities that fit its core competency and in its geographic areas of interest. “We are always looking for and have found properties that needed a lot of love in terms of renovation, repositioning, better management and sales. That’s the kind of opportunity we look for,” Horodas says.
With its tagline, “experience exceptional service,” always at the front-of-mind, Greystone Hotels will continue to renovate its properties and remain selective in those it chooses to own and operate. “We are about to embark on a major renovation at Hotel Griffon to change the image and lobby,” Horodas notes. “A big part of what we do is continually reinvest in our properties to keep them fresh and anticipate the guests’ needs.”