When Stephen Power stepped in as the general manager at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco in early 2021, he set about making the 30-year-old hotel a destination despite COVID-19, adding one-of-a-kind pandemic-friendly amenities like an outdoor silent disco yoga class and a respite concierge who organizes soothing experiences ranging from recreation to retail therapy.
“We knew we had to pivot to meet the changing demands of our guests,” Power says. “We quickly saw an opportunity to reenergize our offerings in a fun and unexpected way while also keeping the safety of our guests and The Ritz-Carlton brand standards at the forefront. These new initiatives allow us to bring some lighthearted fun to the guest experience at a time when it’s needed most.”
According to a new report from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, despite an uptick in leisure travel, many urban hotel markets remain stuck in a “depression” or “recession.” Among the top 25 U.S. hospitality markets, the report says, San Francisco was the hardest hit: revenue per available room in May 2021 was down 70 percent from May 2019. But perhaps The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco has found a way to turn onto the road to recovery.
Power — who previously opened The Ritz Carlton, Aruba and served as general manager at W Los Angeles — hopes the new offerings attract guests looking for an urban reprieve during COVID-19. They are aimed at helping them to relax, enjoy the outdoors, prioritize their health and participate in exclusive experiences around San Francisco. “We have found that our guests are seeking a sense of normalcy while also being safe,” he says. “Our respite concierge, for example, offers many experiences throughout the city in an intimate or private setting, which have been desirable for guests as they continue to be cautious while traveling around the city.”
The most popular respite concierge excursion is a treatment at Spa Nordstrom, which is a 13-minute walk from the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Nob Hill hotel. But the specialty concierge offers much more than spa day outings. “If you are coming to the city for the first time, I would recommend the sailing excursion in the bay for a different vantage point of the city,” Power says. “Or if you are looking to enhance your wardrobe with an expert stylist, I would suggest the Retail Respite package in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue for the ultimate shopping experience from start to finish.”
During the silent disco yoga class (officially called Courtyard Yoga), you don headphones so that local company Outdoor YogaSF can lead you through creative flows and stretching to a soundtrack of calming, soulful music. The twice-weekly class debuted in July and will continue indefinitely in the hotel’s spacious courtyard. The weekend sessions cater to all levels, and it’s $29 for the public and complimentary for hotel guests.
“The silent disco yoga has been received very well,” he says. “Our guests have enjoyed the experience in the courtyard and even admitted to a heightened level of concentration during the class, free of outside distraction, with the instructor’s voice directly in their ears.”
Power plans to add more pandemic-appropriate activities to the San Francisco hotel’s roster. A Wellness Weekend will take place September 24 to 26. Targeting active, health-conscious travelers, it will offer a reboot for both the body and mind and comes complete with fitness classes, pop-up shops featuring top athleisure brands and exclusive savings for guests, a wellness-focused menu and more.
In addition, The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco will host a series of cultural events through the fall and winter that will be open to guests and the public. It’s part of an effort to make the hotel a hub for the community. While no event specifics are available yet, Power says, “We are in touch with local artists across many different genres, from music and dance to art and film that highlight the rich cultural diversity found here in San Francisco.”