One of the sectors changing fast in China is the hospitality sector. Among the most talked about boutique hotels in China is The Opposite House (TOH), located in the heart of Beijing – in trendy Sanlitun. In order to learn why TOH is so highly regarded, Nicely Made in China (NMiC) paid a visit to Anthony Ross, TOH General Manager, who told us about role play, attention to detail and having a laugh while working.
Anthony, can you tell Nicely Made in China readers what makes The Opposite House different?
First of all, Swire Hotels decided to use the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who had never previously designed a hotel, to design The Opposite House. He used materials not normally associated with hotel rooms, such as Turkish sandstone on the walls, and floorboards made of American oak. Secondly,we went for an informal approach to service.
Do your staff get special training?
Our staff begin with 3 months training, during which they do a lot of role playing and theatrical plays. For the theatrical part we invite film directors like Cao Yan from CCTV and drama school director Wu Ji to assist us. We also have an in-house training manager. During the role plays, staff are taught to study guests’ body language and recognize when a guest wants to be talked to or to be left alone: it’s our role to understand that.
How does that translate in the day to day operations?
We encourage our staff to be natural – for instance, a laugh between themselves is allowed. Nothing is scripted. We treat people as if they were at home and we encourage our staff to call guests by their first names if the guests allow it.
Our room attendants try to understand how a guest would like the room to be set up – if the room attendants find that the guest has moved the parapher to a drawer, they leave it there and keep it that way throughout that guest’s stay. In general, we try to run this hotel like a European hotel.
Our senior management team has more interaction between themselves than at other hotels I’ve worked at. I check a few rooms every day, as does our Chief Engineer, our Executive Housekeeper and our Director of Guest Experience.
Another detail is that, like in any other hotel, guests have to sign in when they arrive. What we do at TOH is that we keep their signatures on file so that they don’t have to sign in again the next time they stay with us.
How many rooms are there, and how many staff work at The Opposite House?
We have 99 rooms that we call “studios” as they are all over 70 sq.meters. TOH employs 300 staff with 200 working in our restaurants and 100 in the hotel giving us a ratio of one member of staff per room which is very high. (NMiC checked the usual hotel ratio is a lot less)
Tel: +86 10 6417 6688