The Ultimate Christmas Tradition

Tradition – “A long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another”

Hospitality – “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

*Oxford Dictionary

 

Day to day life throughout the year is subject to so many unexpected variances and changes in both our personal and professional lives. Therefore, that is why there is something so reassuring and heart-warming about Christmas because no matter what else is going on throughout the rest of the year, you know that November and December are going to full of the aromatic smells of well-cooked home meals; the glittering reflections of illuminating lights and decorations and the pure sense of celebration which radiates from parties and gatherings aplenty. Subsequently, without fail we get so excited for Christmas because we know year in and year out what to expect when it comes to that jubilant time of year. Maybe circumstances in your life will have changed for the better or the worse, but ultimately you are safeguarded in the knowledge that at this time of year, the Christmas spirit will always prevail.

This leads us on to the point of Christmas traditions. Every year we get to revel in the joy of celebrating special days such as birthdays and anniversaries and each year we get to choose different ways to celebrate them. However, when it comes to Christmas, some things will never change and as it is a holiday we celebrate every year, it is undeniable that each and every one of us has some kind of long-established custom that we never fail to enact. This is because since birth, we have been raised to celebrate this wonderful time of the year and so it is irrefutable that rituals and beliefs will have been passed from one generation to the next regarding everything from gift-giving practises to the foods we eat to the order of the festivities to the specific way we decorate our trees and houses.

As we explored in our blog last year , there are traditions which are tied to certain countries. For instance, in Poland, Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia and on this day it is traditional to eat the main Christmas meal (consisting of 12 dishes to represent good luck for the 12 months ahead and the twelve disciples) but it is also only traditional to begin eating when the first star in the sky has been spotted! Alternatively, in the capital of Venezuela, Caracus, it is customary for people to roller-skate to the early morning church services held between 16th and 24th December with roads even closing to accommodate this. Finally, a slightly unusual tradition to us is one in Ukraine where due to the prevalence of the Eastern-European folk tale of the Christmas Spider, Christmas trees can be decorated with ‘cobwebs’ as it is considered good luck to find one.

Therefore, it is readily apparent how we all have our own ways of celebrating whether that is on a country level or purely just on an individual level. However, regardless of culture or geography, you can always count on one universal tradition at Christmas that can be found in any home and that is the indomitable spirit of hospitality. Around the world at this time of year, we may all have differing ways of decorating our trees or choosing when to present our meals, but one consistency is that we are always eager to open our homes to strangers, friends and family so that we can all share in the spirit of the season. Christmas is so beloved by everyone around the world because without doubt you know that this is the one time of the year that you will be reunited with those that you hold dearest to celebrate all the love and joy that this time of the year represents.

At Christmas, it is easy to think that the beauty and magic of the festivities purely radiates from the gifts and the decorations and the parties, however it really radiates from the spirit of unity it fosters. To us, there is nothing more wonderful than this unwavering spirit because as we are part of the hospitality industry, there is nothing more that we strive to achieve each day then providing a warm welcome to all our guests and even if they are staying with us for as short as one night, to make them feel on that one night like they are in a home away from home. This to us is what Christmas is all about – family, friends, love, celebrating and hospitality. No matter who you are and where you come from, this is what this holiday should always centre around. Therefore, it is undeniable that while the world will continue to evolve, subsequently altering our lives with it, we hope that if there is one tradition that will forever stand the test of time, it is that hospitality and the spirit of welcoming everyone and anyone will live on. At the very least, this is a tradition that here at The Spires, we will always practise whether it is Christmas time or not.

………

We hope you are all beginning to get the Christmas traditions rolling and would love to hear if you have any unique ones that you would like to share. For instance, is there that one notorious festive jumper which Christmas is just not complete without or is there a certain decoration that can never be evicted from the tree? No matter what it is, we would love to hear it! #SharetheJoy

Advertisements

Travel with Confidence: Quality Assessment Programmes

qauality_logo

Recent years have seen the introduction of new online accommodation platforms such as Air B&B where individuals can put up any property they own and travellers can choose to rent it out as part of their holiday experience. The surge in popularity for Air B&B probably stems from how it helps to cut costs as well as offers a unique accommodation experience which cannot be found by going down traditional accommodation routes e.g. treehouses can be rented; you cannot get more unique than that. It is even starting to make waves into the business travel arena although the BridgeStreet IQ report: Business Travel Insights 2015 reflects how only approximately 30% of Business Travel policies allow it as an accommodation source. This could potentially link to the pertinent issue of Air B&B in that there is no guarantee of quality. As owners put up their local properties for rent, there is no inspection for them to make sure that the facilities and experience they will be offering will be of an acceptable standard. To surmise, there is no essence of quality assurance.

If you are travelling, either for leisure or corporate, undoubtedly you will have invested some money as well as stress and you will want your stay to go as smoothly as possible in order to have the optimum travel experience. In effect, you will want to travel with confidence and know that wherever you are staying has your welfare in mind as the priority. Quality Assurance plays a pivotal role in developing that confidence because it entails the inspection of accommodation properties to make sure they are meeting the defined standards and benchmarks of the industry.

If you happen to scroll down to the depths of the bottom of our rather beautiful web pages, you will find a logo that you will probably be unfamiliar with. This logo represents how The Spires is part of a Quality Assessment Programme which is implemented by the serviced apartment’s key industry body: The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP). So, what does this mean?

Quality Assurance ASAP

Under ASAP’s Quality Assessment Programme, we receive an internet review analysis, a mystery shopping initiative and an annual quality assessment visit. Most critically is the annual assessment which includes the assessor staying overnight so they can fully experience the service standards on offer and see just how comfy the beds are (in all seriousness, the comfort of the bed is genuinely graded!). When grading, assessors take into account core scheme requirements which covers essential legislative compliance, such as in regard to health and safety (electricity, fire risks, heating and lighting) and accessibility, as well as critical features which although may not deter bookings in their absence, are held highly in regards to guest expectations e.g. emergency contact details and an adequate ratio of bathrooms to guests. After the basics and essentials are covered, the Quality Scoring Mechanism is taken into account which considers the quality not just of the apartment offering itself, but also of the firm and its members. Therefore, grading begins to be generated based on everything from location to lighting to furnishing & fixtures to cleanliness. The whole guest experience from the booking and arrival processes are all taken into account and compared against ASAP’s high standards in regards to quality and security so no stone is left unturned; online guest satisfaction reviews are even considered.

Therefore, it is clear that the assessment is a rather rigorous process but it is one that is most definitely worthwhile because we can vouch to our guests that the experience we advertise, is the one they will receive. The only surprises they should get should be good ones! Service, integrity, efficiency and smiles are all part of The Spires’ values and consequently we wear our ASAP Quality Assessment badge with pride as testament that we abide by these values.

There is so much stress associated with holidays at it is, why make it worse by travelling with that niggling anxiety in the back of your mind that maybe that hotel or serviced apartment you booked might be a little bit sketchy? Trip Advisor is a great source for obtaining objective perspectives of a particular accommodation; however, nothing can quite determine the quality of a property like an official Quality Assessment Programme.

Moreover, Quality Assurance should be part of your purchasing decision-making process because it is only set to become increasingly pertinent with it being expanded globally (the US Corporate Housing  and Providers Association are interested in grading) and with the consideration of differentiating apartment firms by quality banding underneath the Quality Programme. Numerous reports discuss the rapid growth of the serviced apartment industry, particularly in recent years, and through quality assessment programmes such as ASAP’s, it is hoped that a benchmark of quality can be set for the industry so as to keep standards high and guests happy. As published in the March/April issue of Buying Business Travel, ASAP is really hoping this year to publicize the importance of accreditation to business and leisure tourists alike; something that we hope this blog will help with.

Sources

ASAP: http://theasap.site-ym.com/page/V2_qualityassess/? 

http://www.relocatemagazine.com/articles/fiona-murchie-03-d3-2015-shaking-it-up-changes-in-the-serviced-apartments-sector

http://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/0523497-serviced-apartment-body-unveils-accreditation-logo