Landing in Funchal airport in Madeira is a tricky job. The airstrip is rather on the short side and upon landing the pilot has to anchor up pretty swiftly before the plane can tip its nose into the hungrily waiting sea! With a sigh of relief, baggage grabbed, we were soon off in an eggy yellow taxi at a rather incongruent 80mph on the twisty-turny mountainous road to our fabulous seafront hotel.
Unpacking quickly, we headed out to the poolside to begin the arduous job of lying about and gradually changing the milk bottle white extremities to a rather more honey coloured healthy glow.
Looking around at the inhabitants of the surrounding sunbeds, we realised that there was just one aspect of the 5 star luxurious accommodation which we had overlooked prior to booking. TripAdvisor had reassured us that we had excellent taste and that the satisfaction level reported by previous guests was a terrific 95%. Indeed the aparthotel had superb spa facilities, restaurants and bars and everyone concurred that the service and cleanliness were perfect.
However, as we scrutinised our neighbours, we realised that our new companions for the rest of the week had an average age of 92…
Somehow we didn’t envisage all night parties or life-story lunches over a beer or two as a likely option. There was however a thin chap with an old electric keyboard who droned on in the background each evening. We studiously avoided him.
As we settled in and started to relax though, we were beginning to feel a bit sorry that we would be moving up the road to another hotel for the second week of our holiday.
So in terms of delivering what their ideal customer wanted, they were spot on. Lots of umbrellas were available around the pool area along with comfortable and adjustable sunbeds as you might expect. We had a studio apartment with everything you could wish for in a relaxing break. There was even a half-sized dishwasher for the washing-up-phobic – me!
We lived on local fresh bread, French butter and a gorgeous four-fruit jam for a deliciously simple breakfast. Lunch was often little cheese and tomato sandwiches followed by an exotic fresh fruit salad smothered in fruity yoghurt.
The preparation of this was much less hassle than anticipated and I vowed to make this up more often at home and encourage the family to dig into a bowl of chunky pineapple, banana, orange, peach and melon pieces.
Occasionally at lunchtime we fancied something a little more substantial and would take a break from the fruit chopping. So we would pop into the pool bar for a baguette with a few chips and salad garnish. A good dollop of ketchup livened it up and a glass of cold beer refreshed us for the afternoon shift by the pool.
There was just one issue. Every single thing the hotel did was geared up to their older guests. However, the music in the pool bar was not congruent with their type of clientele. Rather than playing some gentle tunes from a few decades ago, they repeatedly played a CD of epically inappropriate songs from ultra modern stars such as Avicii, David Guetta and Naughty Boy! The mix of British, German and French patrons seated around the area looked slightly bewildered by the music. Nothing could have been less appropriate to them and their tastes. The wonderful Portuguese staff didn’t seem the types to listen to ‘teenage’ music either and it really did perplex me as to who on earth had made this really bad choice?
It’s a small thing I know but it’s a timely reminder to take a fresh eye over our premises and the services we offer and to check that it is all congruent with our ‘Ideal Customer’. Do all the pieces fit together to give the level of service, level of care and meet the particular expectations of our favourite clientele? For example if we have magazines in our waiting area, are they up to date and focused on their type of interests? Could we offer any other service which would be beneficial to them? Are we keeping in touch at regular intervals to remind them how we can help them?
That reminds me; I must go and look for my Grandad’s old Mantovani album. I’m sure that with some cleverly applied heat I could fashion a very nice fruit bowl for my pineapples and melons…