Archive for September, 2010

“Appetite” for a Good Read?

Posted in General, Literature, Who's Who with tags , , , on September 14, 2010 by Jenny Kimball

It is odd to read a book about the very business you run.

But Stephen Fried wrote Appetite for America – How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West.

I spent time with the charming Stephen Fried in Santa Fe a year or so ago before this book was published and then again recently when he came to La Fonda for a lecture and book-signing.  I recently had a chance to finish it and what a page-turner it was.  Fried draws on the Harvey history but puts it in the context of events.  It is an excellent overview of American history of that era (late 1800s through the mid 1900s) with an intriguing focus on branding and marketing, which Fred Harvey practiced before the concepts were even conceived.  While reading, I highlighted several statements Harvey made.  Over a century old, they still apply today in terms of providing top-notch service in the hospitality industry.  I share a few of the Harvey gems with our senior staff at our weekly meetings.

For instance, Fred Harvey’s list of “Fundamentals” is still inspiring.  We, at La Fonda, presently aspire to:

  1. Have a sincere interest in people.
  2. Like all your daily contacts with guests.
  3. Radiate cheer and make guest feel at ease and at home.
  4. Remember “Travel follows good food routes”.
  5. Keep well-informed and updated on the condition, origin, and season of different supplies, and the serving of same (a forerunner of the locavore mantra?)
  6. Be human and be yourself.
  7. Courtesy and a smile pay dividends.
  8. Real service is without discrimination.
  9. Preserve or create – Never destroy (precursor of the recycle/environmental movement?)
  10. Tact is an asset and honesty is still a virtue.

This book is available for purchase at La Fonda’s gift shop.  Call 505-988-1404. I highly recommend it.   It is very entertaining and I learned a lot while reading it.

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Kinda Like Woodstock

Posted in General, Music with tags , , , on September 8, 2010 by Jenny Kimball

One of my husband’s claims to fame is that he actually attended Woodstock.  He was practically a baby when he went, but he was there.   So, when I heard that Taos was hosting its second Annual Mountain Music Festival, I knew we had to go.   We headed to Taos on Sunday morning and stopped at Embudo Station for lunch.   The food was good – local and mostly organic.  We then headed to Taos and checked into one of our favorite places to stay there, El Monte Sagrado.   Our room was in their newest wing which was very pleasant.   The décor included pony hair leathers, fringed suede, antler accents and a color palette ranging from rich brown to robin’s egg blue.  The effect was pleasant, cool and chic, which we were not expecting – lovely bed and linens to boot.

We then headed up the mountain and got situated for the music festival – our “seat” for the performances was a blanket in a field of green grass surrounded by gorgeous mountains.   First, we heard Shemeka Copeland belt out the blues,  followed by Yonder Mountain String Band, both of whom the crowd adored.   Personally,  I am not a huge banjo fan unless it is Lyle Lovett’s large band, but they were great.  Then the main act took the stage.  Government Mule started playing just as the sun was setting and the stars came out.   We were treated to some talented rock and roll that went late into the night.   Not exactly Woodstock, but there were thousands of music-loving fans who thoroughly enjoyed the day of music in a setting that was hard to beat!  We headed back downhill to our digs at El Monte Sagrado, awoke the next day and made our way to Taos Plaza. We lunched at the all new Gorge Bar and Grill in the old Ogilvie’s space.   Great new ambiance and the food was delish!  If you have not checked out Seconds Eco Store on Bent Street, it is worth stopping in.   The cute, energetic proprietor, Sara Basehart, has filled a store full of wonderful items made from recycled products, all of which were great-looking and clever.  

We then headed back to Santa Fe on the lusciously green, mountainous High Road from Taos, which meanders through Peñasco, Truchas and Chimayo, where we stopped to grab a handful of the miraculous healing dirt.   All in all, not a bad 24-hour side trip from Santa Fe!

It is a Very Small World Sometimes

Posted in General, Literature, Who's Who with tags , , , on September 1, 2010 by Jenny Kimball

It’s not often that I read a business book that I can’t put down, but Chip Conley’s book, Peak – How Great Companies get their Mojo from Maslow, is one of them.  Perhaps it is because, like me, he is a hotelier, and so his examples resonate with me.  Perhaps it’s because he references two new friends of mine as an example of connecting customers to a greater cause. Helaine Beckerman, Executive Vice President and General Merchandising Manager for Macy’s in New York City and Santa Fean Willa Shalit, Fairwinds Trading Company’s CEO, partnered to support Rwandan women artisans.   I met both these women at Santa Fe’s most recent Indian Market.   One more coincidence that might have contributed to my intense interest in this book was a quote on the back cover by another Santa Fe friend, Alan M. Webber, co-founding editor of Fast Company.

All these coincidences aside, the book is genuinely a good read for anyone wanting to gain peak performance for their company, while balancing the needs of employees, customers and shareholders.  Conley accurately describes his book as being about “the miracle of human potential:   employees living up to their full potential in the workplace, customers feeling the potential bliss associated with having their unrecognized needs met and investors feeling fulfilled by seeing the potential of their capital leveraged”.   I highly recommend Peak – How Great Companies get their Mojo from Maslow.