As a travel writer, I stay in a lot of hotels and have enjoyed a number of Hilton Hotels. Hilton, like some of the other upscale hotel companies, offers a higher level of amenities and customer service visitors can count on. But on a recent visit to the Hilton Hotel in Branson, Missouri, a town famous for its dozens of theaters and live musical shows, the Hilton staff illustrated a level of care and friendliness that should make other hotels green with envy—and want to emulate.
I was recently in Branson for a conference of the Western Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers, the largest and most prestigious professional organization for those of us who make our living writing about travel. The town of approximately 10,000 boasts not one, but two Hilton Hotels: the older hotel where we stayed (that folks called the “short Hilton”) and the newer, soaring, 12-story Hilton Convention Center Hotel across the street.
Good Conference Facilities, Food Service
We were a group of about 40 and we’d booked our meetings and breakfasts and one lunch in two conference rooms in the short Hilton and most of us stayed in guestrooms there. We opened our conference with a catered reception across the street in one of the lounges at the Convention Center Hilton, which is where I first noticed the Branson brand of Hilton friendliness and service.
The conference welcome event was a cocktail party with hearty appetizers and there were two servers bringing us drinks with several other servers keeping serving plates filled. With a group of freelance writers, you can count on free food disappearing quickly and these dishes—little sliders, crispy chicken strips, cheeses and meat platters—were tasty. But the staff never once let the plates get thin. They continually replenished them, even when our party dragged on well past the allotted timeframe. The same was true for the cocktail servers. My drink never stayed empty for long and the servers were consistently friendly.
In the short Hilton where our meetings were held, the conference rooms, located just off the lobby, where spacious and comfortable, with round tables for eight, with a divider that transform the space into two rooms or one large one. Throughout our conference meetings, the servers made sure trays were full of goodies and drinks, whether it was a full breakfast, lunch, or just afternoon snacks. I’ve been in many high-end hotels where the meeting room servers allowed food and beverage supplies to dwindle, but not here at the Branson Hilton.
Comfortable Rooms, Exquisite Service
My room was equally satisfying. It was large with a queen bed, flat screen TV, mini fridge (always appreciated), individual cup coffee maker and in-room safe. There was also a writing desk, large enough to actually use, and an extra pull out working table and chair. Additionally, there was an overstuffed reading chair, ottoman and reading light for those times when I just wanted to kick back for a moment and not use the bed or the desk.
The bath was granite with a tile shower and extra-long tub for soaking (and I did). Fluffy robes and oversized towels made the bath experience feel luxe.
The hotel features an indoor pool and whirlpool, a well-equipped fitness room, and a small business center with two computers and a printer that allowed me to print out whatever I wanted (often hotels limit printing to boarding passes only).
While the stripped carpet in the guestroom hallways is overstretched and a bit dated, the super friendly staff made up for this small lapse. When my computer wouldn’t connect to the hotel internet (my computer’s fault), the staff did all they could to resolve the issue. When I needed copies of recipes and other materials I’d missed from a meeting, they made copies for me without question. And always, every staff member smiled and said hello. Now that’s the kind of service that makes me want to return to the Hilton and to Branson, MO. – Review and photos by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor