I can’t lie—WFH has lost its magic for me. Sure, I still like the fact that I don’t have to waste time in traffic and I get to spend my petrol and toll money on other things I actually love, like food.
But in return, I’ve sacrificed the company and camaraderie of my colleagues. I miss them, and that’s why I didn’t hesitate to express my interest when my boss announced she was opening up her personal workcation to anyone else who wanted to join.
We had initially booked a 2-bedroom suite, but The Ritz-Carlton KL kindly upgraded our room to the 3-bedroom suite and planned a meal itinerary for the duration of our stay.
Disclaimer: The accommodation was not sponsored by the hotel as we wanted this to be our small way of supporting the local hotel industry, but the upgrade was kindly offered to us without an add-on cost. This workcation happened well before the start of MCO 3.0 and the hotel staff had all the necessary SOPs in place for our safety.
You said how big, exactly?
The suite we had to ourselves for 3 days spanned approximately 2,261 sq ft, and each bedroom was very spacious and allowed us to have our own beds.
Immediately, this was the first good sign. When you’re on a workcation with your colleagues, you’re still going to want some personal space and privacy.
Bedrooms are an important part of any group stay, but one type of room that’s equally crucial yet often overlooked until someone really needs it is… the bathroom.
Lucky for us, we were spoilt for choice with 3 en suite bathrooms and 2 (still spacious) detached toilets at our disposal to bless. That’s 5 people who can “go”, at a go! The master bedroom had the largest bathroom, complete with a bathtub to help you unwind in the evenings.
Outside the bedrooms, the kitchenette had a stove, a large fridge, an oven, and cupboard full of glasses and other cutlery fit for a party. Of course, utensils were provided too. Appliances apart, what was available were mainly tools for dining, not so much cooking, but the hotel’s reception was prepared to deliver any pots and pans we needed.
Not a workcation without work
With all the space we had, we didn’t lack spots to set up, but in terms of a proper workstation, there was only one, in a separate area. It had a cove for your laptop or books, complete with sockets nearby and an office chair.
Our video editor took that, and the rest of us worked at the dining table where we could have discussions. Even on the higher floors (we were above the 30th floor), the WiFi speed and accessibility were pretty stable. The entire suite is also soundproofed, which helped reduce any external distractions.
We ran into our first problem when we realised we didn’t bring our own extension cord for more power sockets to charge our devices as we worked.
The dining area we were at had 2 sockets nearby, but they weren’t enough. When we called up the reception to request an extension cord, unfortunately, they had no more units available. So we made do with taking turns to charge our laptops.
Though we told them to let us know if there would be one for us during our stay, that request wasn’t able to be fulfilled.
Workcations will be the new WFH
That alone wasn’t enough to ruin our workcation, of course, as the rest of The Ritz-Carlton KL’s service was impeccable. We had multiple deliveries sent to us at the hotel, including food, extra toiletries, a cooking pot and extra glasses. The staff sent everything up with smiles that never faltered.
It showed us that the hotel had the chops to deliver service of great quality to guests there for a vacation.
But the workcation crowd like us has slightly different needs, ones that the hotel should be more prepared to meet in the future. Other than having more extension cords, items such as extra mice and mouse pads, USB adaptors, or even WiFi adaptors are always handy because you just know someone is bound to forget one thing or the other.
Over the pandemic, the hotel industry has lost tourists and local guests, especially with travel restrictions in place. Locally, we may not see a full return to normal life and travel until a few more years, and on a global scale, it may take even longer.
One crowd that would actually be aching to get out of their houses and find new spaces to work in would be the WFH crowd.
Let’s face it, WFH is no longer a perk at this point for those of us who’ve been doing nothing but that for over a year. Sure it was a perk back when we were in the office, and now it’s just daily routine.
In that sense, we predict that workcations would become the new “WFH”, the new perk that younger Gen Z employees would eventually hope to expect from companies, if they began their careers during the pandemic.
This means players in the hotel industry need to be prepared to cater to this specific target market (i.e., individuals or companies on workcation), even more than before.
Is The Ritz-Carlton KL prepared for this?
Area General Manager Mahmoud Skaf from The Ritz-Carlton told Vulcan Post that they’d already anticipated this change in consumer behaviour.
Marriott International (who owns The Ritz-Carlton hotel brand) had announced a new programme in late 2020 for guests to work anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy.
“Marriott Bonvoy’s new Day Pass, Stay Pass, and Play Pass packages were designed as flexible options whether guests are seeking a one-day stay from early morning into the evening for a change from their WFH environment, to [an] extended overnight stay with early morning check-in and evening checkout, or a multi-day work and leisure destination getaway,” Mahmoud shared.
These packages were created with input from customers, hotel operations, and corporate partners.
Commenting on our experience with the extension cord request, Mahmoud said, “We usually are able to cater to requests for extension cords, a variety of cables for different devices, and chargers, unfortunately, it was a busy period for us then, hence the limited availability.”
However, he assured us that their team will be much better equipped for future requests of this nature.
This is a necessary step if The Ritz-Carlton hopes to appease guests who come not just to relax, but also to be productive.
Despite it being over two decades old, it’s kept up with the times and has a collection of 16 meeting and conference spaces that can cater to groups as small as 6 people for intimate discussions.
These rooms include flip charts with markers, writing pads, pens, and are equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment with virtual capabilities, Mahmoud shared.
Let’s be real, a workcation at The Ritz-Carlton KL is as fancy as you can get domestically, and while it is an investment, it’s not an experience that will be easily forgotten, we can attest to that.
After all, what are work perks if they don’t stand out from what you can do on a normal, day-to-day basis?