In collaboration with Ritz-Carlton Okinawa
Ritz-Carlton is renowned for its fantastic customer service that is just out of this world. This is why a hotel review of Ritz-Carlton Okinawa isn’t complete until I write about this part of the experience. Because we had a whole week to see how Ritz-Carlton Okinawa handles customer service, I think we got a pretty good idea of the general state of it. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had only heard great things about the hotel chain in general. The only thing I was slightly “worried” was if they would have been too formal in a way that makes us uncomfortable. I can assure you that this wasn’t the case at all.
Each time we went anywhere in the hotel we were greeted with a genuine smile from the staff. They began with English when they told us “good morning” and such, but they quickly changed to Japanese when they noticed we preferred it that way (we always greeted them in Japanese). Also they started taking note of our likes and dislikes, so for example when I had finished my G&T in the Lounge, they asked me if I would like to have a local Orion beer after that, because they knew that I had been drinking those on other occasions. This kind of proactive customer service is very attentative and makes you feel special, because you are not just “another customer”.
The same happened with the breakfast champagne, because they always had glasses ready for us when we came down for breakfast (read more from the food post). I still don’t know how they managed to get the glasses to the right table before we arrived from the front door, but they just did it somehow – maybe the table had been reserved for us. Each morning when we arrived at the reception desk of the breakfast restaurant, we were greeted with a wide smile and a warm welcome from the hostess, which was always a great way to start the day. There was just something so genuine in the customer service here that it didn’t only feel like a great hotel – it felt like a home.
When it was our first morning at the hotel, we walked to the concierge desk at the main entrance and asked one of the staff members where the nearest grocery store is, so that we could buy some snacks and drinks to our room. He told us it’s a 20 minute walk, so someone can take us there by car, if we want. We smiled and told him we can easily walk that far, because we do that all the time on our trips (we walk hours and hours each day). I got the feeling that he knows something we don’t know, when he asked: “Are you sure?” At this time we didn’t know that we should really listen to him.
After we had said we are positive that we want to walk there, he gave us two bottles of water and a cell phone which we could use to call for a lift. When we stepped outside, we understood why he was telling us that maybe it’s a bit too much. It was over 30 degress outside and the humidity was over 90%, so I was sweating my ass of after the first five minutes, which was downhill, so it shouldn’t be that hard. We had depleted our water half way there and when we finally arrived to the airconditioned heaven called a grocery store, we decided to do our shopping and then call for a pick up. It took them under 10 minutes to arrive with an airconditioned car – and we didn’t see any “we told you so” smiles. Professional all the way.
This same car service is available free of charge to close by attractions, restaurants and the hotel beach. They just give you a phone which you can use to call for a pick up when you are ready. I’ve never had this anywhere else, but I think it’s genius and extremely convenient for the guests to have your own driver on call 24/7. There is just something special in the feeling you get, when you are chauffered from a grocery store to a luxurious five star hotel, when you have grocery bags full of chips, chocolate, sodas and beer.
I think it’s good to mention that not all of the staff speak English that well (also there were some who spoke excellent English), but there was never a moment where this was a problem, because there is always someone close by to help out with the language barriers. In a way I like this, because it brings even more authenticity to the whole experience. If you have ever visited Japan, you know that sometimes communicating with a non-English-speaking Japanese person is easier than talking to anyone else. The thing is that they will go to the ends of the earth to help you out in any situation imaginable.
At the end of our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa, we already felt like a part of the family. Some of the staff genuinely felt sad that we were leaving already, as did we. Something like this is sure to make a customer want to come back there and we surely will. I just can’t stress enough how great the staff is at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa.
The special occasion
It is absolutely true that bloggers do get special attention in hotels when doing collaborations. It doesn’t always happen, but there are many times that I’ve gotten a bottle of champagne to the room or something similar. I know that these kinds of things aren’t the norm for most travellers, but at the same time I also see this from a different perspective. Usually the hotel uses the same kinds of presents and extras when they want to take care of their loyal customers, honeymooners or people who are having some other special occasion.
For example if I get a bottle of Perrier-Jouet champagne when I arrive, I can guess that the same might happen to a person celebrating a birthday there. This is the reason I think these extras can be an important part of the review. Now I want to tell you about the special dinner we got on our last night at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa, because this might very well be a great way to propose to your special someone or celebrate an important day.
As part of the collaboration with Ritz-Carlton Okinawa they wanted to offer us one dinner (we paid all of the other meals ourselves) before we left the hotel, so of course we accepted. We asked them to make the reservation a little after sundown, because we wanted to watch the beautiful sunset each night. Half an hour before our dinner we were at our favourite sunset spot on the terrace of the Gusuku restaurant. We saw that the staff was preparing a table onto the terrace, so we decided to give them some space and go watch the sunset elsewhere.
When it was time for our reservation, we walked to the Gusuku restaurant and were immediately escorted outside to our favourite spot on the terrace. We were dumbstruck when we realized they had been preparing the table for us. Everything else had been removed, so there was just one table with a white tablecloth and numerous candles around the area. The smiles on our faces were really, really wide. I believe they had noticed during the week that we spent a lot of time in that exact spot, so they chose that for our special dinner, however we had never mentioned that to any of the staff members.
We were informed that tonight the menu would be decided by the head chef, who had prepared something special for us. That was more than fine, because we were certain we would be in for a treat. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos of this, because we ate at dusk, so the whole area became really dark soon after starting the dinner. All I can say that the foods were delicious and it was the most romantic dinner we have ever had anywhere.
We could hear the sounds of nature around us as the night fell. Stars filled the sky and we only had the candle light to see each other and our food. The dark island was littered with city lights here and there. This was the most romantic dinner we have experienced so far and it will definitely be hard to beat. If you do this when you want to pop the question, the answer will definitely be yes. Of course we had already passed that point, because we were on our honeymoon, so this was a wonderful situation to talk about dreams, goals and the future. That night has seeped into my memory as one of those “I freaking LOVE my life!” -moments.
OTHER SPECIAL OCCASIONS
In addition to our honeymoon I also had my 27th birthday while at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa. Here I want to tell you about the few things how they remembered our honeymoon and birthday.
When we arrived at the hotel after travelling half a day, they had provided us with a bottle of ice cold champagne and a huge fruit plate, which was a great start for that part of our honeymoon. The feeling of popping a bottle of champagne and drinking it while watching a beautiful sunset with your loved one is absolutely priceless.
When it was time to celebrate my birthday, there were a lot of fun surprises in store for me, which made this birthday my best so far. I got a special treat at the Lounge when they heard it was my birthday, so I thought that the special day wouldn’t be recognized further, because I had gotten used to the fact that most places don’t do anything or only do the minimum in these situations. However when we went to eat at the hotel’s teppanyaki restaurant, we were given a glasses of Taittinger Rose champagne and after the meal we got a great dessert that was laid out on a separate table, so that we could enjoy it more discreetly than on the teppanyaki counter.
I was sure I had gotten all of the surprises in store for me, but I was wrong. My wife Tiia already knew that there would be something else waiting for me, because a member of the hotel staff had approached her to inquire what I might like to have as a present. He actually did this while I was a few meters away without me noticing anything. A ninja perhaps? When we got back to our room in the evening, there was once again a bottle of some really nice champagne waiting for me with a big birthday card and two stuffed animals representing lions with traditional Okinawan attire. Usually hotels give out cards with just a quick signature on them, but this was different. Several staff members had written their name and a personal greeting for me, which really blew me away. It was such a nice gesture from them and I immediately put it up in my home office once we got home. I mean look at it! They really took time and effort to make my day even more special.
I have no idea when we will be back at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa, but I’m certain it won’t be too long. We spent 7 nights at the property, which was a bit too much for us because of two reasons. Firstly, we only wanted to stay at the resort and not venture to the close by areas, so there wasn’t that much more to do than relax. Secondly, we are the kind of people who just love to be on the go almost all the time. Tokyo is our favourite destination, so maybe that tells you something. That’s why for us a 4 night stay would have probably been perfect, but this really depends so much on what kind of a person you are and what you like to do on trips like these.
All in all we always felt like we were taken care of and nothing was a “no can do”. I think it says it all that after experiencing for the first time what a Ritz-Carlton has to offer, I immediately started figuring out where they have hotels that we could visit in the future. Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka properties are on the top of my to-visit-list, but I’ve also been looking at cities like Vienna and Berlin. Just with this one visit, I believe they made two new customers for life. I have to admit that I don’t mind that at all. Thank you, Ritz-Carlton Okinawa for helping to make our honeymoon perfect and providing me the best birthday I’ve had! I have to add that this has by far been the best hotel staff I’ve met anywhere in the world, so it is a miracle, if you are ever disappointed while staying at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa.
So what do you think of this hotel or the brand itself? Have you ever visited one of these fine properties? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below. If you want to keep up to date on my newest travels, please go and follow the blog on Facebook and Instagram.