Turndown Service

I don’t know about you, but when I get back to my hotel room after a day out and I see a freshly made bed with a puffed-up pillow, I get a childlike excitement to see what has been left for me on my pillow. It’s like Christmas all over again!

Well maybe not that exciting, but it’s fun nonetheless. I wonder if tonight it’ll be fudge or maybe a carefully wrapped nugget of nougat? Oh look, its chocolate covered Turkish delight. Ooh, how exciting!

This reaction may sound like an over-reaction to something as small as a little piece of candy being placed on a pillow, but as an accommodation establishment owner/ manager, one should always remember that small gestures can make a big impact on your guests’ impressions of their overall stay. On the other hand, many guests, particularly those on business, may feel that this is not necessary and may not want to be disturbed just before retiring after a long day of conferencing or meetings.

This begs the question of whether it is necessary to have a turn-down service at all. Firstly, let’s have a look at what a turndown service is and what it consists of. Traditionally, a basic turndown service is when the housekeepers will enter a guest room and prepare it for the night. This usually happens around 6:00pm and involves taking off the bedspread, turning down the sheets and leaving a mint on your pillow. Additionally, the housekeeper will tidy the room and leave fresh towels in the bathroom for your morning bath or shower.

Most, if not all, luxury establishments offer a turn-down service and it is regarded as a standard part of the luxury experience. Yet, because it is a relatively simple task for the housekeeper to perform, it could easily form part of any establishment’s services, at very little extra man-hour costs. This little touch will definitely make your establishment more appealing to guests. Re - turning to a freshened up room after a long day of touring and sightseeing hints at luxury and should impress your guests.

Also, bedspreads and decorative pillows that are properly stored may last longer, making it economical for you in the long run.

Whilst doing a bit of research on the web, I came across some very strange versions of this traditional turndown service. Some are just way over the top, like this one found at www.hotelchatter.com: “At the Langham Hotel Hong Kong, the hotel is placing “sushi-inspired treats” on the pillows at turndown service. But don't worry it’s not raw fish. It’s chocolate sushi like this from Koo ki Sushi. Guests can look forward to sushi-inspired treats of the finest and sweetest ingredients from the Palm Court (the hotel’s restaurant), such as Chocolate Passion Fruit Cream resembling a temaki hand roll; Strawberry Truffle and Rice Crispies in the shape of moguro, and Choco-Banana and Sago like salmon roe. with sides of kiwi “wasabi” and raspberry “soy,” your pillow never tasted so good. Your pillow also might get a little messy. Hopefully, they supply some napkins and fresh pillowslips just in case.” I couldn't agree more with the reviewer. Sounds messy and also seems like they’re trying to “outdo” their competitors. Who wants to eat such rich treats before going to bed anyway? If you feel that a chocolate on the pillow is a little tired and clichéd, perhaps a good way to give your turn-down service an “edge” is to theme it. If you are aware that your guests are getting away for a romantic break or celebrating an anniversary, how about placing a rose or rose petals alongside the chocolate together with a small bottle of sparkling wine?

Differentiate between a winter turndown and a summer turn down, by placing a hot-water bottle under the covers during winter. Another idea is to leave some information on the following days’ activities, or even an interesting magazine or newspaper for your guest to read. You can even offer a “bathroom turn-down”, and draw a hot bath and supply aromatic bath salts, fresh towels, minty mouthwash and floss sticks. The drapes should be closed and the lighting lowered to create an ambience that is inviting for your guests to want to go to bed. If there is a Hi-Fi/CD player in the room, you can put a chilled-out jazz or relaxing “new age” CD in the player and play it at a low volume. The housekeeper should empty all the dustbins, turn down the bed and place the mint/chocolate/ rose/champagne etc on the pillow. Another nice touch is to put the gowns on the bed and slippers on the floor next to the bed and a note with the housekeeper’s name and a goodnight message on the pillow. The key to a good turn-down service, however, is subtlety. Ensure that the housekeeper does the turn-down while the guests are out and that it is done quickly and efficiently. It must be made to look effortless, almost magical. It will spoil the illusion if your guests walk in while the housekeeper is still busy. All told, it is in the opinion of this writer that the turn-down service can really bolster the image of your establishment if done subtly and stylishly. Lalani kahle!