The first episode of Hotel Impossible has Melchiorri taking on Gurney‚Äôs Inn in Montauk, NY. Even as he pulls into the parking lot, he begins finding deficiencies in the property and its service, and by the time a bellman virtually ignores him, he looks like he‚Äôs ready to punch somebody in the throat. In one instance, Melchiorri calls a meeting with management for 10am, and no one shows up ‚ÄĒ not even the owner. (To be fair, the way Melchiorri talks to his clients, I‚Äôm not sure I would have been in a hurry to see him, either.) But Melchiorri can justify his method.
‚ÄúThey ask me to provide a service,‚ÄĚ he tells me of the hotel owners who call to request his services. ‚ÄúAnd I will never not get through to an owner. I will ensure that I do everything that I‚Äôve learned over my career about how to manage and talk, and respect people, and also plow through people to get what I want. What I want is what they want ‚ÄĒ they want their hotel turned around.‚ÄĚ
The problems that Melchiorri finds in the properties he visits can run from simple issues of cleanliness and upkeep to larger problems involving poor management. But unsurprisingly, the most consistent problem he finds is communication. ‚ÄúI always say, if the housekeeper and the owner can quote to me the mission statement of the hotel, I don‚Äôt have a job ‚ÄĒ because that means the hotel‚Äôs running well,‚ÄĚ he explains.
‚ÄúThe disconnect between ownership or leadership, and the housekeeper in the line of employees is usually very surprising to me. That it‚Äôs so disconnected that the ownership thinks this is the way the hotel should run, housekeepers are running it this way, and if those two don‚Äôt understand the mission of the hotel, that‚Äôs what I find most troubling ‚ÄĒ that communication in the hotel and the direction of a hotel is splintered in a lot of cases. At least in several of the cases that I‚Äôve seen for the show, and every single case that I‚Äôve ever done in my career.‚ÄĚ
So what does the host of Hotel Impossible look for? Melchiorri tells me it‚Äôs not all that different from what most people would expect from wherever they‚Äôre staying.
‚ÄúPeople ask me what‚Äôs my favorite hotel, and I always say, ‚ÄėA well-serviced, clean hotel is my favorite hotel,‚Äô‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúIf you‚Äôre a five-star hotel or a three-star hotel, the only thing that should separate you are amenities and maybe size of rooms ‚ÄĒ not the level of service. A three-star hotel bellman and a five-star hotel bellman is still a human being. And why can‚Äôt I train that three-star bellman to treat a guest like a five-star bellman treats a guest? So I always find the thing that‚Äôs most troubling is the cleanliness and the service in a hotel. It comes down to the basics. ‚Ä¶ I‚Äôve never walked into a hotel that‚Äôs failing, where cleanliness and service wasn‚Äôt an issue.‚ÄĚ
With Melchiorri‚Äôs radar so finely attuned to finding faults in the hotels he visits both for Hotel Impossible and otherwise, I had to ask how he‚Äôs ever able to enjoy going on vacation.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a great point,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll put it in perspective: On my honeymoon, about 19 years ago, in Puerto Rico, I had somebody regrouting my bathtub. And my wife turned to me and said, ‚ÄėI can‚Äôt handle this if I‚Äôm going to spend my life with you.‚Äô She said, ‚ÄėYou‚Äôve got to shut it off.‚Äô And since that day, I‚Äôm able to go into a hotel ‚ÄĒ as long as I‚Äôve done my homework and I know it‚Äôs clean. ‚Ä¶ I can tone it down.‚ÄĚ
Photo: Travel Channel