The Mille Club: urban versus rural experiences

We define a Mille Club property as one that prices its guestrooms at or above the one thousand dollars per night level (mille being a thousand in Italian). While there are now numerous hotels around the world that are successfully achieving these rates year-round, all Mille members provide incredible lessons for any hotel or brand looking to grow its ADR, whether or not that includes reflagging and a renovation to move up half or a full star rating.

While there is a ton that must happen operationally to justify rates at $1,000+ or even $500+, in this short column we’re focusing on the experience, highlighting two examples – one urban and one rural – from North American Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, a brand that commands four-figure rates at practically every one of its properties. Importantly for you, know that the guests with the monetary flexibility to pay these lofty prices think less in terms of total cost and more in terms of total experience.

Especially for HNW individuals where the price is no object, it’s about exclusivity, privacy and self-actualization. What can your hotel offer that is irreplicable anywhere else in the world? How are you allowing your guests to rethink a destination they may have been to before? How can you put a unique spin on the physical design, the F&B, the artwork or the activities? How are you making your guests’ lives more fulfilling?

Four Seasons understands this, so it behooves all hoteliers to consider actions taken by this brand as examples that they can apply to their business model. Recent media releases from this brand underscore their pursuit of excellence and improving their guest experience. Let’s dig in.

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Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Solving the dilemma of the minibar

Imagine returning to your hotel room and being charged seven bucks for a can of pop or eight bucks for a small chocolate bar. It’s highway robbery. Concurrently, how do you as the hotelier make decisions insofar as the munchies available in the small space afforded to this minifridge and bar top? It is all but impossible to get it correct for every guest. Moreover, the service costs continue to increase.

Enter ‘The Vaults’ at the Four Seasons Boston. There is one located on each of the property’s floors. The guest’s key opens the door. The Vaults’ selection of complimentary snacks and beverages consists of popcorn, chips, movie-sized M&Ms, Swedish Fish, a variety of nuts and dried fruit, flavored sparkling waters and more.

Here is a guest-oriented solution that provides a strong value-add; the selection is greater without too much sacrifice of convenience (nearby versus in-room). At the same time, this drastically reduces replenishment costs as the servicing cost of an in-room minibar in terms of HPOR often exceeds the purchase price of the snacks dispensed. Moreover, liberating the physical square footage devoted to an in-room minibar means more space for other experience-enhancing guestroom amenities.

Four Seasons Boston’s Director of Creative, Jim Peters, remarked, “I was looking for a way to expand the minibar experience for guests, whether on their way out the door to explore the city or snuggling into their Four Seasons bed for the night to watch a movie.”

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Providing aspirational experiences that (literally) drive business

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley positions itself as one of the finest resorts in California, claiming that its onsite Elusa Winery makes it the only resort with a working winery. Fully embracing this with a number of available oenophile-oriented activities and integrations with F&B, not a single guest ever leaves with having a wine-themed experience of a lifetime.

But then Four Seasons outdoes itself as the brand has developed an international program to add new ways for clients to revisit a property and experience it in a new light.

The Four Seasons Driving Experience is the North American adaptation of an event successfully held over in the French Alps — specifically a driving route from the landmark Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva to the picturesque skiing commune of Megève, France near Chamonix and Mont Blanc. Here, guest can choose their vehicle and follow a multi-day itinerary carefully curated by the Four Seasons team with different experiences and F&B stops along the way provided by local partners.

This addition to the property’s list of available experiences at an ‘over the top’ price point is akin to the presidential suite in a hotel’s room repertoire. Marc Speichert, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer recently noted, “We are bringing the Four Seasons Drive Experience to new, highly sought-after destinations based on a deep understanding of our guests, delivering a luxury experience that reflects the genuine care and empathy that is at the core of Four Seasons.”

To close, these are but two examples of how Mille Club members are extending their franchise by enhancing their guest offerings both inside and outside their properties. Each hotel is different; each is a brand. Therefore, what you do to differentiate your onsite experiences is entirely up to you, but what we stress is that the more you differentiate, the more you can ultimately charge.

This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the authors.

Tags: differentiation, Four Seasons, resorts, rural hotels, Urban hotels

Managing Partners at Hotel Mogel Consulting, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Leveraging over 40 years in the industry, Hotel Mogel is a bespoke hospitality consultancy helping both hotel organizations and hotel tech vendors achieve financial success.

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