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Fine Tuning The Lanesborough

February 19, 2007 By: Mike Jaccarino, Jennifer Merritt Travel Agent

Geoffrey Gelardi works to update the Lanesborough Hotel without taking away from its refined charm

There's something agents should know about Geoffrey Gelardi,
the managing director of the five-star Lanesborough Hotel in London: He spent two years trying to figure
out how to tastefully install flat-screen TVs in the property's rooms so they
wouldn't intrude upon the mid-18th century early Regency style that defines the
hotel. "The only way to make a flat screen look good in this type of
environment," he says, "is to hide it."

Indeed, the Lanesborough Hotel, originally built in 1719 as
a country retreat for the second Viscount Lanesborough, has made its name
staying true to its 18th-century roots, trying to recreate the elegance and
sophistication of an 18th-century private residence for today's modern client.
It has 95 guest rooms, including 43 suites.

The good news is that Gelardi and a team of designers
formulated four pieces of furniture—a bookshelf, a bar, a desk and a
bureau—where the flat screen only appears at the push of a button. The other is
that this near compulsive attention to detail has kept the Lanesborough at the
pinnacle of the London
hospitality market and a worthy choice for agents and their high-end clients.

The Lanesborough is a St. Regis Hotel

When it first opened 15 years ago, the Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotels & Resorts property on Hyde
Park Corner, wowed with subtle touches worthy of its English pedigree. Clients
received their own business cards and personalized stationery at check in. The
hotel possessed more than 1,000 phone numbers and rotated them for each room
each time a client checked in and out. (You didn't have to go through the hotel
switchboard, and the number corresponded to that on the personalized business

Recently, the hotel tweaked its internal booking practices
to include the Lanesborough Promise, which guarantees travel agents commission
for up to a year.

"The rooms were probably seeing a bit too much wear and
tear," Gelardi says of the property's recent overhaul, adding that he has
settled for a point or two less on the occupancy percentages in order to keep
them in tip-top shape. The Lanesborough is also wrapping up a £28,000
renovation that saw the installation of the flat-screen-friendly furniture and
other pieces. New lighting and redone public places rounded out the three-year

The lobby exhibits English refinement

The best rooms to book include room 121, the Apfley suite,
unofficially dubbed the honeymoon suite; and the junior suite, room 118, which
offers a fantastic view of Buckingham Palace. The Royal suites
consist of rooms 212, 214, 216, 218 and 220 and include such amenities as a
personal butler, dressing rooms with walk-in wardrobes and exclusive use of the
chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Phantom.

There is a way that decorating should be done, he believes,
and compromises are unholy bargains made by less tenacious men. Up next on his
to-do list, he says, is pursuit of the perfect chair, a platonic absolute of
comfort and form. "Every time I find one that has the comfort level I
want, the designer says that I can't put it in the room. Someone," he says,
"is going to have to give." Gelardi's unyielding attitude is not the
only thing that makes him suitable for the job. If you're staying at a place
that caters to English gentry, or at least gives the impression of doing so,
you want the man who runs the place to at least look and sound the part.

And Gelardi does just that, as evidenced by his aristocratic
description of the superiority of the Lanesborough's butler program. "Butlers are a dime a
dozen [in other hotels]," he says. "It will be a head waiter who
shines your shoes for you or a housekeeper who will get you a cup of coffee. We
have a full housekeeping and kitchen staff and so our butlers are the cream on
top." FastFacts

According to Gelardi, the butlers are floor managers who
supervise everything.

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