In 2016, despite navigating through an extensive remodel, the Residence Inn of Prescott earned a Silver Award, proclaiming it to be in the top 20% across the nation. Think of it as a "People's Choice" type of recognition.
Holli Maurer is the Vice President of Operations for Ponderosa Hotel Management Services. Ponderosa is the parent company for three hotels in the Prescott area: the Residence Inn by Marriott on Highway 69; also Springhill Suites and Quality Inn on Sheldon Street. They also own Sleep Inn by Choice Hotels and Comfort Inn in Flagstaff.
"[Residence Inn was] named a Silver Hotel," Maurer explained. "That means we were in the top 20% of the brand on our guest satisfaction surveys. They measure everything from customer service at the front desk, to room cleanliness, to breakfast and the evening social hour."
At the Residence Inn, they pride themselves on doing much more than simply check in and check out.
"It's really about making the guests feel like this is their home. That is exactly what we do from day to day, make sure they feel like this is where they come to live and they make new friends," Margo Christensen, Vice President of Marketing said.
"We really try to create a unique experience, especially at Residence Inn, because it's a long-term-stay hotel," Maurer added. "That's our key business traveler that we're trying to get in the door. So, it's really important to create a unique experience, to make the guest return, and want to relocate to Prescott. We really have to be advocates for the City, I think."
"They're here for weeks and months at a time," Christensen said.
"Or years. We've had a guest stay with us for year or more," Maurer said, "We currently have a gentleman here for a year. The team are their friends and their family and they feel comfortable with all of us."
That Silver Award didn't come easy this year. Maurer recounted some of the hurdles they faced, "I think that last year was really challenging operationally for this hotel. Six months out of the year we were under renovation. It was really important for us to maintain business as usual. We kind of had to elevate the service we were giving to make them ignore the fact that we were ripping down wall paper, and painters were there, and it was noisy and you have to take it to the next level to really wow them during a time of construction. When all odds are against you, you have to do that much better. So, it means a lot to our team. Hotels under renovation rarely receive an award the same year. It's extremely rare. So, to the team, it's extremely rewarding."
"Think how you would feel walking into a hotel and looking around and saying, 'Oh, my gosh, they're tearing walls apart, and I've got to be here for a few days…'"Christensen said with a little laugh.
"It makes the job that much harder," Maurer agreed. "I think the first immediate response is, 'Oh, my gosh, I don't want to stay here, it's going to be noisy, there's stuff, I don't want to...' And all those things did happen, but the staff that we have just blew it out of the water for customer service. There's no greater team - I've worked for many companies, many different hotels, and this is the best team I've ever worked with. They get it, it's in their blood. They understand customer service."
Thinking of hotels in general, a first impression that might come to mind could be of tourists and outsiders. But, that's not the philosophy that Residence Inn, and in a larger sense, Ponderosa Hotel Management, operates by. They're heavily involved in tourism, arts and culture which benefits the local economy with tax dollars. They reach out and open the doors in times of loss and tragedy. When events occur like the Crown King Fire, the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and the horrific Kayla Mueller story, all three Prescott properties extend hospitality and community support quietly and behind the scenes.
"We want to be good citizens, we want to have citizen involvement and volunteerism, we want to help in times of need and crisis," Christensen said. "That's one of the reasons we won Inn of the Year [in 2014] is because we had so much community involvement we were associated with - from a moral and ethical standpoint, we feel like that's important for any company to do. And we want to be there to help others in the community... service and help and we're already doing that, and that's the way we feel about things."
"And our team does that, too," Maurer noted with pride. "It's not just the upper management, that carries down to everybody on our team, everybody has that - they're always willing to help, they join us on volunteering, coming to events with the community. It's huge, I think."
Maurer continued, "We get a lot of homeowners that have been affected by fires in their own homes, or floods, or whatever. Hospitality is hospitality. You have to roll out the red carpet, you get some really unique and heartwarming stories and other times it's just sad. Medical situations, people are staying with us that are in cancer treatment or recovery, or sometimes they don't make it. Their family members come back to us and thank us for taking care of them."
It might be one of the best-kept secrets, but locals love the hotels, too.
"A lot of the locals actually do pool parties and barbeques, and we do have live entertainment in the summer, we open it to the public and they can come. We have a lot of residents that are up in Yavapai Hills that will come and just do a site tour, they don't have any current business needs, they just want to come and look, and I would encourage that all the time, for people just to come in and see what we have to offer," Maurer added.
"This summer we're going to roll out Canvas on the Courtyard, which is painting, some wine tasting, maybe some music. So, for a fee, you can either stay overnight or not, we'll have different pricing," Christensen said.
"It will be open to the public," Maurer nodded.
"We have a lot of residents who have stayed here and then relocate in the community, but they come back and have breakfast with some of the team members. We welcome that. Its open door. It's normal - it would be weird if they didn't come back and visit us," Maurer said.
Christensen agreed. "We have the same culture at all three properties. We're one company, with three different locations that are just like branch locations. But, you know, the team cross-utilizes, sometimes we share employees between each location because we need to. Everyone knows all the locations and our culture is the same."
"Come and stay here sometime. Vacation in your own town," Christensen suggested. "We have summer concerts here, and a pool! Stay overnight."
Prescott's Residence Inn has been recognized for their outstanding customer service and culture every year since they've been open.
Residence Inn by Marriott, Prescott, Arizona
Springhill Suites by Marriott, Prescott, Arizona
Quality Inn, Prescott, Arizona