[Inspiration is everywhere, just waiting to be noticed, processed, and articulated. B.Inspired is about inspirational businesses that I have experienced and enjoyed! They are products or services that leave me with amazement and admiration, with a resolve to apply whatever learnings I gain to my own personal life or business.]
Albert and I went to Taiwan for a working holiday last month and spent a few nights in Taichung City. Taichung is a smaller city at the middle of Taiwan, (literally Tai Zhong , Zhong = middle in Mandarin). Since our favorite hotel chain hadn’t opened a location there, we picked a boutique hotel for a change and The Red Dot Hotel was simply awesome!
Red Dot Hotel, Taichung
NOT Cookie Cutter
We decided to try the Red Dot Hotel for our trip as it was highly reviewed. Business Reminder: Never underestimate the power of reviews, both good and bad!
Upon arriving, you’d notice that it’s not your typical hotel… The most notable being, that awesome 2-floor swirly slide!
There was no real “theme” to the Red Dot, except that it was different eclectic elements – neon signs, rattan ball sofas, barber chairs that just meshed well together.
I think they didn’t have a theme on purpose so that you can’t label or box them in. The other boutique hotels in the area clearly had their theme – sakura, airplanes, nature, etc.
Honestly, if I knew beforehand that the restaurant hotel was located at the basement, I wouldn’t have chosen this hotel. There’s something about breakfast and sunshine that go together well.
I thought that a dark and dank basement would make breakfast unappetizing, but Red Dot pleasantly surprised me by inviting me to an urban jungle.
I didn’t notice the lack of windows until I finished (no leftovers!) my well-curated plated meal. Some may complain that there were only three choices to choose from, but I was happy enough with my breakfast that I just did a rerun the next morning.
Beyond great design, the service level was also comparable to 5-star level of hotels. The room was spotlessly clean, immaculate even. We told the hotel we were belatedly celebrating our wedding anniversary (hoping for free wine and cake haha), and they set up with balloons and flower petals.
A room upgrade, top floor and super late checkout time made for a great, relaxing experience.
I checked the prices for the hotel and it was reasonable. We came in at peak season, but the room rate was around 100usd. For low season, their rate is as low as 30-40% off!
My husband calls me a camel when we travel because I can drink around 4-5 liters a day. This was the first hotel in all spectrums (from luxury to budget) we’ve ever stayed at that had a cache of bottled water (discreetly tucked) readily available for guests to get at their pleasure. No need to ask permission. I felt like I was in camel heaven.
I don’t know if the hotel did this on purpose to please guests or just to save on manpower, but it’s a definite plus in my book! The small touches that may require a little effort can go a long way.
In B to C businesses, there’s a lot of competition and you HAVE to stand out if you want to draw people in. That being said, if you’re setting up your store, you might be tempted to scrimp on the construction or renovation of your place.
Now more than ever, I appreciate the thought and investment poured into creating your brand’s identity and matching that with decor, ambiance, and experience. Treat it as a lasting investment. There’s a saying that don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but you can often judge a hotel by it’s lobby (or homepage photos).
When you can’t beat the big players in scale, grandeur, or size, you get customer’s attention by taking on a new identity – quirky but not too weird, different but still familiar.
That dark, windowless basement reminds me not to get discouraged with limitations in a situation, but make the best of it. In business, you can expect that things will never go your way. Treat your basements as an opportunity to be creative and set yourself apart from the competition.
Because hotels are such a service-oriented and personal business, one staff member’s performance, whether visible or invisible, can brighten or ruin a guest’s entire experience and cast a lasting impression. I had so much fun sliding at Red Dot, that the other kids started to look at me funny (according to my husband).
But that’s what a good hotel/restaurant/service business does – gives you an experience so unique that you can’t wait to share with others.