Hotel Bel-Air is a triple threat in the luxury hospitality industry of Los Angeles: The recently revamped hotel picked up a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star mark in Tuesday’s star awards announcement; Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie earned Five-Star status as well; and the culinary team at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air was honored with a Four-Star award. What’s almost as impressive than the hotel’s across-the-board success is the fact that general manager Denise Flanders, who is credited with leading the entire property, has only been overseeing the luxury property since March 2012. Flanders took some time to speak about the awards, the service standards that led to them and how the hotel continues to build for the future by honoring its past.
Alphonzo E. Bell had a grand vision for the property that is home to Hotel Bel-Air today. How does Hotel Bel-Air honor his legacy?
When Alphonzo E. Bell created the estate in 1922, he determined that the surrounding estates would eventually have the area evolve into an exclusive and upscale neighborhood. This is exactly what the Bel-Air community is today. It was inspiration and vision that led the hotel to reflect a genuine “sense of place,” with a magical setting that is only matched by its exclusive location. Today, the “new” Hotel Bel-Air pays homage to our storied past by preserving our heritage while also remaining relevant with today’s luxury guest. In this way, we honor his legacy and ensure that Hotel Bel-Air continues to be a beloved treasure in Southern California.
What are some of the service standards that contributed to the hotel’s recent Five-Star honor?
By working together as a team with a common mission, we not only achieved one of the desired Five-Star standards, but also created alignment between all departments to positively impact the guest experience. Passion is contagious and inspiring, and we are more successful when working collectively.
It must be an incredible honor to receive the Five-Star award so quickly after you took over as general manager. How did you inspire your staff to achieve such success?
This is truly a tremendous honor, and I am deeply humbled. But I am also just the coach of a winning team, and this is really their recognition. By building trust, instilling confidence and keeping everyone energized and engaged, team members became inspired. By holding daily lineups and monthly meetings to discuss our progress, address our challenges and celebrate our successes, we stayed focused on Dorchester Collection’s motto, “We care,” and our core values: passion, personality, respect, innovation and working together. If you are passionate about achieving the basics, success will follow.
Apart from the rating, the past year has been an exciting time for the hotel with the addition of Wolfgang Puck. How does the restaurant change the guest experience at the hotel?
When it comes to perfecting California cuisine, Wolfgang Puck remains the benchmark. For over 30 years, his impact on the culinary industry has been unparalleled, all the while balancing the basics of culinary excellence with trend-setting restaurants and menu offerings. Our Four-Star restaurant, Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, combined with his direction over the hotel’s entire food and beverage operation, has truly elevated the guest experience.
Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie is another great new addition to the hotel, and it earned a spot on our Five-Star list. What are your favorite treatments there?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I would have to say that my favorite treatment is our Pure Gold Radiance Facial. Not once but twice during this decadent treatment, one of La Prairie’s specialty products infused with real 24K gold is applied. How could you not look and feel priceless? Having a deep-tissue massage from one of our talented therapists is pretty special, too.
Hotel Bel-Air’s storied history makes it unique in the Los Angeles luxury scene. What makes a stay at your hotel especially special?
When you arrive here, you really could be at a remote, exclusive hideaway anywhere in the world. The setting is serene, Swan Lake is transporting and our lush gardens are magical. Our appointments are comfortably elegant, and our service, intuitive. And all of this can be found just minutes from the busy city of Los Angeles.
Photos Courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air and Dorchester Collection