Back in April last year, I wrote a blog post detailing the first ever episode of Hotel Impossible. It’s become one of my most popular posts, so I thought it would be appropriate to write a follow up as Anthony Melchiorri, hotel fixer extraordinaire and star of the show, visits six of the hotels from the first season to see how they’re doing since he left them on last night’s episode.
Like I wrote in my last post, my favorite part of watching shows like Hotel Impossible and Restaurant Impossible is looking up the properties after the fact to see what the reviews say. (Full disclosure: If the owners hesitate, even slightly, to listen to Anthony, I start rooting against them hardcore like a Deal or No Deal contestant who went against the mathematical odds for a chance at the million-dollar suitcase instead of cashing in for $250K.)
Here’s what I hoped to find out from this follow-up edition of Hotel Impossible: Was it, in fact, possible to revamp these properties? Did Anthony’s tough love and business strategies pay off? Did the owners ultimately heed his advice, or did they just yes him to death until he was gone, then go back to their old ways?
Here’s a brief recap of each follow-up, as well as a few tweets Anthony (@AnthonyHotels) sent out in real time last night:
Ocean Manor Resort Hotel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), 10 months later
The hotel seems to be doing better now that the owner is less involved and the GM is running the show, but it’s still receiving negative reviews on TripAdvisor. A January 28 review called it “The worst hotel ever!” Not a ringing endorsement for the job Anthony did, but I appreciate the show tellin’ it like it is by actually mentioning the negative reviews in its recap. My favorite line from the follow-up came from the owner, who said that since Anthony left, they’ve renovated “over 37 rooms.” So…38?
Dude Rancher Lodge (Billings, MT), 5 months later
There was nothing too remarkable about this hotel’s recovery. During the initial visit, Anthony won over the curmudgeonly sales manager, but she retired and they hired a younger manager from the area to replace her. This seemed to be working out just swimmingly until THERE WAS A SHOOT-OUT BETWEEN POLICE AND A CRAZED GUNMAN AT THE HOTEL. (The police eventually shot him dead, in case you were wondering.) Still, the recent reviews are mostly positive…
Purple Orchid Inn, Resort & Spa (Livermore, CA), 8 months later
A couple-owned hotel and spa, this appeared to be one of Anthony’s easier missions. The property is gorgeous; the spa just needed a little updating. Also, Anthony persuaded the couple to put on some events to promote their own wine and that of other local vineyards. According to the owners, who have since had a son, they’ve now gotten 150,000 visits to their website and they’re doing 300 spa appointments per month (previously they were doing about two appointments per week), which is what Anthony said a spa in the area should be handling in order to maximize its profits. See their reviews here.
Purple Orchid Resort & Spa in Livermore, CA
Dream Inn (Daytona Beach, FL), 5 months later
This place was being run by an older couple (the mother was recently diagnosed with cancer) before her son took over the day-to-day operations. It was a pretty classic case of a hotel that was being run by people who, despite the hotel being their only source of income, didn’t know (or care) how to help themselves. The rooms need to be CLEANED? The hotel staff should wear UNIFORMS? We NEVER woulda thought of that! (Also, the property was overrun with dolphin statutes, like a lot of dolphin statues, which was just weird.) Since Anthony’s visit, the owners replaced their housekeeping staff with a professional cleaning service, and guests no longer have to clean their own dishes (in the original episode, leaving a dirty dish would have cost a guest a $25 charge at check-out). Per the owners, revenue is up 25%, occupancy up 10%. With the hotel’s phenomenal view of the ocean, Anthony thinks it can do even better than that. Still, the recent reviews are very strong.
La Jolla Cove Suites (La Jolla, San Diego, CA), 7 months later
Like Purple Orchid, Anthony’s primary role in fixing this place was to consult on the marketing front. And like Dream Inn, the view was not the problem. The owner wasn’t utilizing the roof space, they launched a marketing event to get locals up there to expose them to the view. The owners were also in the process of renovating the rooms but ran out of money. Since Anthony’s visit, the owners didn’t disappoint. They replicated the sample room Anthony’s designer created 22 times, all rooms have new mattresses, and Anthony’s famous “face plant” method–falling face-first onto the mattress–is now used the staff to test the mattress softness. Meanwhile Anthony struck gold with his suggestion to use the roof top as the hotel’s main selling point: since he left, La Jolla Cove Suites has hosted 29 weddings and 35 corporate events on roof deck. Per the owner, the hotel was named the second-best wedding venue in the county, and she says people mention Hotel Impossible when they call to inquire about rooms and events. Occupancy is up 22% occupancy, and there’s been a $400,000 increase in revenue (I believe that number was year over year) in the last five months. Anthony earned his paycheck on that one. Here are the reviews.
New Yorker Boutique Hotel (Miami, FL), 10 months later
As with the Dream Inn, this too was couple-owned and the co-owner wife had been recently diagnosed with MS. Meanwhile the financial struggles piled up, with the owners’ whole family living in a small apartment in the back of the hotel, now $1 million in debt. They seemed generally clueless about how to run a hotel, in one instance admitting that they let emails sit in their inbox for several days, even for a corporate client inquiring about rates for 150 nights a year (Anthony, incredulous, closed the guy over the phone in about two minutes for $85 a night). But after Anthony’s visit, which included a few lessons in marketing in sales, the couple says they’ve paid off 50% of their debt, and the co-owner is better able to manage her health and see doctors more often. Meanwhile, they report the hotel’s occupancy is at 80-95%. The reviews, on the other hand, are a mixed bag (don’t stay in room 223, apparently).
Much like Robert Irvine’s drill sergeant style on RI, Melchiorri’s New York Italian brashness was not always well-received by his would-be clients. (As the viewer, I didn’t mind the brashness, perhaps because it wasn’t my failures as a businessman he was exposing on a TV show whose title posits these hotels may be “impossible” to fix, or simply because I’m a New York Italian.) There was often resistance in the form of crying, yelling, or just, well, interesting comments from hotel owners like, “paper never crashes” in response to Anthony’s insistence that they invest in a computer system to track reservations rather than just writing them down and filing them away.
Of course I’m sure many moments were played up or down for the cameras, but Anthony seems to be having a positive effect on these hotels, if nothing else than for some increased visibility as “that hotel from the TV.” Perhaps Melchiorri’s reputation will start to proceed him as the show becomes more and more popular and he’ll have fewer clashes with these failing hotel owners, who might actually just shut up and listen. But then, where would the fun be in that?
Hotel Impossible can be seen on Mondays at 10 pm on Travel Channel.
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