Magazine article Security Management

Securing the Little Nell

Magazine article Security Management

Securing the Little Nell

Article excerpt

THE LITTLE NELL HOTEL, A TOP-notch ski lodge nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain in Colorado was awarded the American Automobile Association's Five-Diamond Award in 1992 and 1993, an award that only forty hotels in the United States hold. Guests note the hotel's fine service, remarkable accommodations, and delightful cuisine. Security is not on their minds. But it is on the mind of every hotel employee--the secret ingredient to the hotel's recipe for success.

The Little Nell, which is owned by the Aspen Ski Company, has ninety-two rooms, including eight suites and five executive suites. The public areas include meeting rooms that accommodate up to 250 people, one main restaurant, two private dining rooms, a library, living room and bar area, and a spa.

Most people think the ski resort hotel would only be busy in the winter, but the summer business at the Little Nell has increased tenfold, with the fall season just as busy. The activity is good for business. At the same time, it presents new challenges for security. In the winter, the guests typically ski from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Now with the resort open in the summer, the summer season guests take in activities that span all hours of the day and night. It is a busy time for the personnel at the hotel.

Personnel. While security at the Little Nell is unobtrusive, it is a full-time operation with ongoing security awareness by all employees. For example, a concierge is on duty twenty-four hours a day to take care of any guest's needs, including transportation, dining, and entertainment arrangements. He or she serves as additional eyes and ears for the security department due to the position's pivotal location and interaction with guests.

Approximately 300 people are on staff at the hotel. All employees are given a security awareness briefing along with a company orientation briefing when they join the staff. This briefing alerts them to some common safety issues that they should note when on duty.

The security department is made up of four full-time employees, three security officers, plus the security manager. Contract security officers enhance the security staff during special functions when more security coverage is required, such as for private parties or receptions. This additional staff coverage varies from six to eighteen security officers. These individuals provide additional crowd control and VIP protection as needed. All security personnel--contract and proprietary--report to the security manager on site.

The security manager reports directly to the general manager. The general manager then reports directly to the president of the Aspen Ski Company. With this kind of reporting chain of command, when a problem arises, it can be dealt with quickly.

Because the Little Nell is a small hotel, the security manager does double duty as the hotel manager on duty when on site, which demands a lot of time on the hotel floors handling problems that arise. For example, if there is a shortage of staff or personnel need to be relieved for breaks, the manager helps other departments or handles guest complaints.

The hotel's management pays particular attention to maintaining high employee morale, one of its hallmarks. Three times a year the hotel throws employee socials in which gifts are given away, including ski equipment, money, and once a year a free week-long trip to Hawaii, all expenses paid. Awards are also given out at these events for employees who exhibit exceptional service to the hotel.

Parking. Due in part to the high premium placed on parking facilities in skiing resorts, all cars parked within the hotel's garage are valet parked. The valet has a simple system for parking car management. Each key is color tagged on paper tags. The colors relate to what the driver is doing at the hotel that day. For example, guests who are staying for several days are tagged for long-term parking and given the respective color-coded tag. …

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