View of Hong Kong from the front doors of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
The first guests officially walked into the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong today: its employees. By 8:30 a.m. Hong Kong time, hotel employees gathered by division outside the hotel's front doors. Each restaurant was represented and unified. The front desk group cheered and applauded as another one of their team members arrived. The hotel's lobby filled with over 80 trainers flown in from Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world and corporate Ritz-Carlton executives, including President and COO Herve Humler, who formed "wall of applause" around the perimeter of the lobby leading into the hotel's ballroom. At promptly 9 a.m., the front doors of the hotel opened and the walls seemed to vibrate from the loud cheers and clapping that took place. The employees were officially entering the building of their hotel - for some of them, their new home - for the first time.
Music blared from the sound system as they made their way into the ballroom on the third floor of the hotel, where everyone from employees to high-level executives would spend the rest of their day immersing themselves in the Ritz-Carlton credo and philosophy. The cheering got louder; some departments starting chanting while others started the wave. Katy Perry's "Firework" seemed to get everyone even more excited, more enthusiast, more engaged. Soon the lights fell and the room went dark. On the large screens up front were photos of people and places around the world that represent the best of the best in their league. From Brad Pitt and David Beckham to Google and Bill Gates, the "number 1's" were flashed on the big screen in the ballroom. At the end, a single black side that said "You are the finest service professionals in our industry" drove people to their feet.
Images of Ritz-Carlton hotels from 1984 until today flashed on the screen in order of opening. As each hotel was presented, cheers would erupt from employees in the audience who at one point worked for that hotel. The pride was evident, but nothing could quite prepare this outsider for the emotional charge that was about to happen: the last photo of the slideshow was of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, and the crowd went absolutely wild. This is their hotel, and there's no denying they are damn proud of it.
As the goosebumps on my arms settled, Humler took the stage to approach the ladies and gentlemen in the crowd.
"My name is Herve Humler and I am the president of Ritz-Carlton, the president of Ritz-Carlton Residences and the president of Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, and I am a very important person," he said. "But you are more important than I am. You are the heart and soul of this building."
The Ritz-Carlton's corporate countdown process is about engagement, empowerment and brand. It's not about how to make a bed or how to cook food - the hotel assumes you know this before you even apply for your job. The first day of countdown is about measuring success, understanding philosophy and defining the personality of the hotel as it finds it place in the company and with world travelers.
"Whatever you do in life, you have to have a vision," said Humler. "There is a lot of power inside this room; seize the moment."
And they have.
The day went on to include the always popular and uber-stylish employee fashion show, where hotel employees model their uniforms (and what not to wear during the workday). Pictured here, the ladies of the spa strut their stuff and show off their work attire to the hundreds of employees in the audience.
Today was a day of presentations and promises in Hong Kong. Amid the excitement, the cheers, the laughter and of course, the fashion, there was one promise that made an impact on everyone in the room.
"This a special moment," said Humler. "On the 29th of March 9am we are opining the doors to this hotel - the best hotel in Hong Kong - and that door will never close."
Read yesterday's live report from the highest hotel in the world.