Meaghan Grimmes and Anna Jones, residents staying at the Somerset West Bay Doha
Being far from home is a tough spot to be in. Two guests share how Ascott goes out of its way to ensure that their residents feel at home.
Being far from home is definitely a tough spot to be in. It’s even tougher when you move to a country where there are no friends or familiar faces around. But Somerset West Bay Doha ensures that its residents feel like they’re home.
Such was the case for 41-year-old Meaghan Grimes from Chicago. “We arrived in Doha on the 5th of January. My husband works with a company responsible for building a university of civil defence. We really don’t know how long we’ll be here,” shared Meaghan. Being away made her feel extremely homesick and she kept thinking, “What would make us feel more at home?”
The answer came in the form of regular barbecue gatherings since Meaghan and her family held barbecue dinners in Chicago three to five times a week. This was made possible by Melvin Quah, Ascott’s Area Manager of the Gulf Region. He gathered his colleagues from Somerset West Bay and converted an unused area next to the property into a barbecue area, complete with pits, tables, chairs and torches.
“It was so kind of them to do that for us,” said Meaghan. “With these barbecue gatherings, we’ll be able to relax at the end of the day and catch up with other residents who are now our close friends. It’s just like having neighbours over for a fun, casual meal.”
Australian resident Anna Jones also had a wonderful time at the barbecue. She said, “Like Americans, Australians are outdoor people. These barbecues allow us to enjoy the warm, stunning evenings while eating good food and having our children get together and play.”
Through this simple gathering, residents have become closer and have found new friends. “We were sitting at the barbecue and this woman walked by,” recalled Meaghan. “We asked her to join us and she did. She now has people to call ‘family’. She’s more than just a familiar face.”
By setting up the barbecue area for its residents, Ascott is more than just a home away from home. It is a place where friendships and relationships are nurtured, making the experience even more meaningful. To the staff at Somerset West Bay Doha, Meaghan and Anna had this to say: “A big thank you for making all of us feel welcome! This place is now like home.”
Jyotsna Field stayed at Citadines Kurfürstendamm Berlin during her trip to GermanyAs a member of the Australian Psychoanalytical Society, Jyotsna Field attended a three-day international conference in Berlin, Germany organised by the Frances Tustin Memorial Trust. A supposedly normal trip took a turn for the worst when her local friends informed her over dinner one night that Mt. Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland had erupted.
“Initially I did not fully register the implications of this for myself,” she recalled. However, when the invited speakers and attendees from Europe and other countries were unable to fly out of Berlin due to the volcanic ashfall, the gravity of the situation dawned upon Jyotsna. She realised that she’d be stranded in the country for longer than expected.
With her work scheduled to resume within a week after the conference and all flights cancelled, Jyotsna looked to Citadines Kurfürstendamm Berlin where she was staying, for help. “The front desk staff, David and Samy, were quick to help us with information regarding airports, airlines and train services,” Jyotsna said. Amidst the confusion and the chaos that sprung up in the serviced residence, David and Samy were always up-to-date on information about airport closures. Alexa Gilbert Obrart, Jyotsna’s friendThey even went the extra mile to recover Jyotsna’s jacket she lost on the bus by calling up the bus company to track it down for her. These were done on top of attending to other residents who were equally anxious and apprehensive about the circumstances.
It was the staff’s attention to detail, however, that really touched Jyotsna. She recalled a particular incident that required the staff to go beyond their call of duty for the residents.
“My friend, Alexa Gilbert Obrart, had particular dietary requirements, and she was very pleased to find that Suzy, one of the breakfast service staff, had already made provisions to have her needs met for the next few days,” Jyotsna mentioned. Barbara, the general manager, also spent time throughout Jyotsna’s stay to talk about what was going on and kept her updated about flight and train schedules. “It felt very personal,” she commented. “It was quite unlike what I would have expected in a residence the size of Citadines,” Jytosna shared.
Despite the atmosphere of panic and puzzlement, the warmth and professionalism of the staff stood out for Jyotsna. She will surely remember how Citadines gave its guests the ultimate care and concern during the crisis. “The residence came to feel like a home away from home for us because of their friendly and reassuring presence,” she said.
Published in Ascott Living Jul-Sep 2010