Spent a wonderful week in Altai. Mountains and rivers, snowmobiling on mountain slopes and untouched virgin snow, many new places and experiences. This is not the first time in Altai, and I hope it will not be the last. The region has changed markedly, for example, they equipped ski slopes on Manzherok, a resort in its best form, albeit with local specifics. I would like to talk about the latter, since the service in Russia by default is considered to be something impossible, for some reason most people sincerely believe that “with us” a high-quality service cannot take place. A delusion from the same category that salespeople in stores will never learn to smile, I heard it in the 90s, but as you know, everything has changed dramatically. Altai today reminds me of Sochi in 2010, the Olympic Games are only on the horizon, but investments have already poured into the city and the region like a river. Service, as a rule, can be characterized as unacceptable or conditionally good, and it is in comparison with the first. The places that give the level of the capital can be counted on the fingers of one hand, the wealthy audience bursts into them, to get there just by flying to Sochi for a day is almost a disastrous business. Today in Sochi there is a service for every wallet, people’s minds are changing, and they realized that the planning horizon should not be limited to one day, life stretches for months and years, and bad reviews can drown any business.
The high season in Altai begins in March, in the summer the mountains are filled with tourists, there is nowhere for an apple to fall. In winter, everything is calmer, although there are enough spectacles inaccessible in summer, and winter entertainment. Nice, without any discounts. But there is one feature that well characterizes the fact that Altai, due to the pandemic, the rise of domestic tourism, is ready to make the next leap – changes in the restaurant business are clearly visible and it is felt that competition has arisen at a qualitatively different level. The idea of this material was born, as usual, from life experience, which is still quite fresh.
On the bank of the Katun there is a park-hotel “Shishka”, excellent houses, friendly staff, high-quality service. There are good reviews on social networks, they chose him as the base.
There is a restaurant on the territory, prices are Moscow, a claim for author’s cuisine. Check out the menu and prices.
The first thing I liked about Shishka was the quality of the project, it is clear that they invited people who knew how and who knew, they built good houses, thought out all sorts of little things and made the hotel noticeably different in level from many similar projects in Russia. It can be seen that money has been invested in the project and it has been done with a sufficient scope. It is somewhat reminiscent of an expensive suit, in appearance you can never tell how much it costs, but there is a feeling of an expensive thing. So here, for example, from a restaurant at breakfast you can look at the river, how the snow is slowly circling. Handsomely? Not that word.
But it is not enough to invest money, invite the right people who will build the business and train the staff (here it is important to note that I do not know the owners of Shishka, as well as all other businesses in Altai, these are the observations of an outsider). It is important to maintain the required level, monitor what is happening in your household, in a word, keep your finger on the pulse. And the restaurant is in many ways the face of the hotel, there are only a few establishments in the district where guests of “Shishka” can go without a car. Agree that the perception of food, restaurant, determines how you will perceive the place as a whole. And here in “Shishka” there was, of course, a complete fiasco. I don’t know why the restaurant falls out of the general mood of the hotel (which is already wrong), but the service here is technologically stuck at the level of the early 2000s.
Story number one or first acquaintance with a restaurant. We booked tables for our company, but we were immediately warned that it would not be possible to move the tables, this is not allowed. By whom? Why? Unclear. Further more interesting. The first dinner happened on February 23, a kind of festive day, for restaurants it is always a chance to offer something, to stand out favorably. Elsewhere we were congratulated on the holiday, smiled and offered champagne. Nothing of the kind was foreseen here, no one thought about it. This is also the quality of the customer service (on the contrary, at the “Shishki” reception desk, the men were congratulated, smiled and were very friendly).
We were warned by phone that the day is difficult for the restaurant, the kitchen will be working hard, so they can send a menu so that we can make a reservation. The menu was sent, we made an order – the first, second and desserts. We decided that we will choose drinks on the spot, as this usually does not pose a problem.
And now, tired after the hike, we burst into a restaurant where all the tables must be filled (not all of our friends ended up in the restaurant, they were refused due to the lack of tables, they ordered food to the house). The restaurant has several tables and looks empty. We are asked for the house number, we substitute the fifth chair to the table, where salads are already waiting. They arrived on time, but a warm salad – no longer warm, why it was put on the table is unclear. A minute later, the waiter happily brings the second courses and puts it all on the table, there is no room left. Now not only the warm salad is cooling down, but also the fish and meat.
An attempt to explain himself stumbles upon a reinforced concrete argument: “You asked so yourself, you made a preliminary order so as not to wait.” The restaurant is empty. There is practically no one, but the food was prepared for us in time and it does not bring any pleasure. Having ordered lemonade, we wait for it for half an hour, during which time we were digging into the food that is on the table. A boy and a girl who work as waiters carefully look at the empty plates that are piled up on the table, but they are in no hurry to clean them up. They do this only after you ask them about it. We are no longer shy in expressions (all within the bounds of decency), and several tables are indignant. A loud and contemptuous “Muscovites” is heard from the kitchen. The phrase was dropped by one of the employees.
I have no emotions, because I met with a different person, I just wonder how you can invest a lot of money in a hotel and still not control a restaurant that can destroy literally everything. The guys who work as waiters are dressed in uniform, they are nice, young people (honestly, they are good). But no one taught them how to work, they have no such experience. And this is a fiasco. Other staff received work experience, but the employees do not have it in the restaurant, which is clearly noticeable. This is a flaw of those who launched the hotel; it could have developed due to various reasons. We worked out an interesting menu, made the interior, but the place turned out to be dead, the restaurant is working against “Shishka”. And this is in ideal conditions, when there is almost nothing around, which means you can stand out, you can create a name for yourself for years to come, make people come tens of kilometers away to eat something.
I’m a stubborn guy, in the morning we have breakfast at the same restaurant. Surprisingly, you have to choose breakfast before 19 pm the previous day, there are five options in total. You call the administrator and say: “House such and such chooses breakfast room such and such.”
The hotel is not full of guests, the restaurant hall is almost always empty, and they are trying to collect standard orders in advance. Moreover, there is nothing of the sort that requires complex purchases of food, this is what is always stored in the refrigerators of restaurants. And then a uniform hell begins, which is associated with how the work of the kitchen and the waiters in the hall is technologically organized. The bartender prepares drinks, the order is placed by the waiter. There are two waiters in the hall, tables are divided between them! And if everyone sits at the tables of one waiter, then he is the one serving you, while the second on his tables wipes the dust, arranges the cutlery and seems to be busy with something. This leads to the fact that even two occupied tables turn into a disaster for the kitchen and the waiter. They confuse the ordered, bring in any order, the omelet has time to cool down, because they forgot about it. Coffee may appear in half an hour, but not immediately. The mess that follows from the arbitrary organization of work. And this is a systemic problem that cannot be cured in any way, since there is no properly organized process, it is simply absent. I can say this, someone decided that they know how to run a restaurant and play this game, it doesn’t work out very well.
Breakfast starts at 8 am, the doors of the restaurant can remain closed at 8.08, no one opens at a knock! Cause? They don’t hear. You need to call and then they will open for you. Once this is possible and this is an accident, but three times in a row? This is the system. The apotheosis is the phrase that the waitress said at breakfast: “I have two hands, I can’t stand it faster.”
A few words about food. I call such places a spoiled copier. Someone has developed a menu, it is repeated an infinite number of times, something is lost on the way, there is no spark and soul. It seems to be good, but not very tasty. And there is mutual irritation, the staff does not understand what the “Muscovites” want from them, and those who have come to rest are annoyed that they receive a service that is far from acceptable.
Let’s turn our eyes to the restaurant on the other side of the river – “Tasty North”. Also at the hotel, and it is of a completely different level and clearly loses to “Bump” in everything. But many people recommended this restaurant to us, and when they heard that we were eating in “Shishka” they waved their hands vaguely in the air and said that it was worth taking a walk across the bridge and getting a different experience. The menu at prices is roughly the same as the “Shishka”.
Delicious. Many people who come by car do not live in the hotel. Stop by on the road to eat! The entrance to the territory of “Turquoise Katun” through the bridge costs 100 rubles. But they come, order food, sit and chat. There are different cars in a small parking lot.
There were eleven of us and we were served by one single waitress. Service speed? As quickly as possible. I took orders from everyone, learned the sequence of serving dishes, and so on. The usual service of the level of Moscow, what we are used to in the capital and consider the norm. I asked why this is so, I liked the answer: “We are just the best restaurant in the area, and we have the most delicious food.”
And there is no cheating here, the food is really tasty, although expensive for Altai, it is aimed at tourists. But this is a place that can be safely recommended, which is what people are doing, judging by the influx of visitors. After dinner in this restaurant I looked into the “Shishka”, again a half-empty room. This means that the guys across the river feel much better and more fun.
This material is not an attempt to annoy the restaurant in “Shishka”, as someone thinks, or invade the territory of food bloggers (save and have mercy on me from this forever and ever). This is just a great illustration of how people are changing the way a business is perceived. An excellent restaurant in design in “Shishka”, significant investments and the lack of technology for working with clients, which devalues all investments, this is multiplication by zero. On the other hand, a restaurant with a modest hall (a kind of St. Petersburg story) clearly does not have such funds as the owners of “Shishka”, but the staff and the ability to work bring it to a fundamentally different level. They are friendly, you can chat and find out what to choose and how the dishes differ (and not this eternal thing – “everything is delicious with us, without exception”).
Nowadays, you need to build customer service, you can’t let it take its course. And when you have already invested a lot of money in your project, it is somehow stupid to waste time on training staff in a restaurant and control over it. Moreover, I am more than sure that the owners of this splendor do not even know about the problems, since everything is fine in SMM, the reviews are completely positive and as for the selection. And of course, when and if they appear in a restaurant, they are probably known, the level of service is clearly changing.
This approach was characteristic of the 90s, perhaps the beginning of the XNUMXs, but today it is already a receding nature. Competition has increased and it is reaching a new level, so it is not enough to invest money, you need to educate people about what to do and how to do it.
After my trip to Altai, I can confidently assert that foreign investments have appeared in the region, development is noticeable with the naked eye. The speed of development is quite sufficient so that in 5-10 years the Altai mountains suddenly become one of the centers of mass tourism, as a result, an infrastructure appeared here for any wallet. At the moment, the cost of tourism in Altai is prohibitively high and does not stand up to any reasonable criticism. But everything is changing and the quality of service is gradually increasing, and those who realize this and fully try to change their approach win. Once in Sochi, waiters and restaurant owners believed that the flow of tourists would never run out to them, these would leave, so tomorrow there will be others. But suddenly it turned out that word of mouth repels visitors and somewhere the institution is packed, and somewhere empty tables. And I had to retrain, there is no reason to believe that everything will be different in Altai. The path of development is the same for everyone, just somewhere it happens faster, somewhere slower. But ultimately everything depends only on people and on their desire to work.
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