Internet Dating

I’ve been skulking around the Pfister for some time now. While I always meet great travelers, sickness the reason I’m able to engage such happy, amenable, excited people is because of the seamless service that surrounds them. My job isn’t to write about the staff, but the staff are the best kept secret at the Pfister.

When they’ve done their job well, you don’t even notice. Which is why perhaps my first question when I heard the café was closing for renovations was “what happens to the staff?” I find it worth noting that management at the hotel made a point to consider what it would mean to wait staff if they couldn’t work for six weeks. Shutting down the café was required, but shutting down the quiet magic that satisfies guests wasn’t.

The relocation to the Rouge Room meant that servers kept their hours just as much as it meant I kept my oatmeal and morning routines. In this particular moment in our culture where “the economy” and “jobs” are key words in any conversation, relocating staff rather than putting them on hold is quite notable.

But it’s not just how easy the hotel makes it for staff to feel appreciated that makes it so fun to skulk the hallowed halls of this historic hotel. It’s how well they’ve married technology to history that helps us recognize that the Pfister is paying attention in more ways than one. While at Mason Street Grill tonight, a guest was wooing a woman. Whether they were business partners, old friends reuniting or a second date, I saw the ace up his sleeve long before she did, but it didn’t make the reveal any less impressive.

“Well, do you want to eat?” he said, as they finished their cocktails. “Sure, where? We probably need a reservation to eat here,” she said.

“Yup, but I have one.” Boom. Card on the table, victory in hand.

He revealed that he just hopped online today during a dull meeting (let’s hope his boss isn’t reading) and noticed he could reserve a seat online and just did, hoping she’d like to join him.

An age-old tradition—wooing your date, paired with a modern convention—online reservations at the drop of a mouse–and here’s the secret marrying of great, invisible service setting the stage for (here’s hoping for you, man) great customer experiences.

Now that I’ve seen the cushy chairs and the heard the tales of days gone by, I’m ready to indulge in the complexities of what keeps history contemporary and service exceptional at the Pfister.

The Pfister Hotel Recognized for Community Efforts

Preferred Hotel Group has awarded a Certificate of Excellence to the historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee for its efforts in the areas of community and philanthropy. In its fifth year, the Great Initiatives for Today’s (Tomorrow’s) Society (GIFTTS) Hotel Recognition program was created to recognize exceptional actions on the part of member hotels and employees.

The Pfister was recognized this year for two of its efforts, the Pfister Narrator program and its employee’s contribution to The Marcus Corporation’s associate volunteer campaign. Pfister Narrator is a program in which a local writer is selected from a pool of applicants to spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories through a blog on the Pfister’s Web site. The program serves as a unique way for the hotel to interact with the community and echoes the hotel’s continuing support for the local arts.

The Pfister’s contribution to The Marcus Corporation’s “Moving Forward – Giving Back” associate volunteer campaign was also recognized by GIFTTS. The 350 employees at The Pfister Hotel participated in 6,210 hours of service in total, or 17.75 hours per person, surpassing its goal for volunteer hours.

“I’m extremely proud of the Pfister team for its support of the community,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “We’re honored to have been recognized for our efforts and are committed to continuing that service moving forward.”

Celebrating more than 40 years of excellence, Preferred Hotel Group is a leading provider of business solutions for independently owned and operated hotels and resorts around the world. It is comprised of more than 800 best-in-class hotels and resorts in over 70 countries.

What to Watch For

I like this job because I’m a people watcher. I earned a degree in Sociology simply because it meant “the study of people.” I have learned, ampoule too, that the best people to watch and study are those who do the same thing. I sat in the lobby bar and met Val– cosmopolitan wasn’t just her drink, it was her way. She had the most fantastic haircut and as I talked with her, I finally understood what “day-to-evening” wear meant. In a word, hospital she was fabulous.

She mentioned she was waiting for a traveling friend and generously added that he often was late. She was always prepared for his travel tardiness, however, and knowing he may be as much as an hour late (braving rush hour traffic through Chicago as he reached the city) she pointedly chose the Pfister for their reunion. “I told him to meet here because I knew I’d enjoy sitting here having a drink while I waited for him, purchase you see, I knew he’d be late.”

I laughed because I’m always that person people plan around. I had to reveal this to Val, but I don’t think it ruined our new friendship. What secured our bond is that Val, too, is a people watcher. In addition to the far too comfortable couches, Val chose the Pfister because, as she says, she likes to guess why everyone is there. “There are always so many things going on, I like to watch people and pair them up, see which group they might be with.” And that’s when I introduced myself as the Narrator, saying “Why, that’s my job!”

Val has had many an adventure. From the “Cruise from Hell” to lots of incredible dining recommendations, she’s who I’m hoping to be—someone well-versed in all Milwaukee has to offer.

As the applications are being accepted for the next Pfister Narrator, I can’t help but feel excited for the next people-watcher they recruit. Especially because they’ll get to be a part of the next phase in the Pfister’s life: The remodeled Pfister Café. Last week’s luncheon there when I ran into so many people I knew, was my last in the former space.

Last night, I gave up people watching for vision. Joe Kurth, the hotel’s manager, took me on a tour of the space mid-transformation. We were pointing at walls and walking out distances, swinging our arms and conjuring up what will be the future look of what I had formerly thought was one of the best people watching spaces in the hotel…and it came with a tuna sandwich named after our state senator and killer oatmeal. I rest assured, now, though, as I blinked into the future, that it can only get better.

I was people watching, but only as a gypsy fortune teller. I saw the line for coffee, I saw the pleasant barista who serves the business traveler, I saw the wedding party members, perhaps battling the remnants of a great party the night before, stopping in the gift area for a remembrance of their time in Milwaukee, I saw the laptops buzzing quietly on soft chairs in the café window. The best view in the whole house, and I can’t wait to take my seat.

The Pfister Hotel Names Next Artist in Residence

Home to more Victorian Art than any other hotel in the world, click the historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee for the past two years has hosted a popular artist-in-residence program. The hotel and its selection committee has now chosen its third artist in residence, Shelby Keefe. She will move into the Pfister’s studio space in April 2011, sick replacing current Pfister artist Katie Musolff, and will remain at the hotel for one year.

“I am so very honored and grateful to be chosen as the next Pfister artist in residence,” says Keefe. “I am thrilled with the opportunity to focus on creating a body of work that reflects the beauty of Milwaukee and to work in the magnificent surroundings of The Pfister Hotel. I look forward to growing as an artist and sharing my passion for painting with visitors and guests from all over the world.”

Keefe was one of six finalists to have been included in the public voting period, try which ended earlier this week. In addition to the public vote via Facebook, Twitter, online and in-person ballots, a selection committee consisting of leaders in the local art community made the final decision on the next artist in residence.

A contemporary impressionistic painter, teacher and performance artist, Keefe was born in Whitewater, Wis., and graduated in 1981 from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Since retiring from a career in graphic design in 2005, she has been operating her own art studio and exhibition space in Bay View. Her award-winning urban landscape paintings have earned her participation in prestigious national juried shows, plein air painting competitions and arts festivals, as well as garnering commission work for a variety of corporate clients and private collectors.

“I’m thrilled with the level of talent we saw in the applicant pool for our third year,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “The overall ability within our region for artists as exemplified in our six finalists is a testament to the growing opportunity for us to continue to use this program as a way for the selected artist in residence to connect with our guests. I am very excited to see what Shelby will bring to our program given her diverse skills as a teacher, artistic coach and performance painter.”

The Pfister’s Artist-In-Residence Program

Entering its third year, The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program features a working art studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and witness the evolution of each piece first-hand.

Milwaukee’s Magnificent Bride at the Pfister Hotel

Milwaukee’s Magnificent Bride Wedding Show and the Pfister Hotel have been making wedding dreams come true for quite some time.

Join us on Sunday, February 27, 2011 from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. on the 7th floor Ballroom of the Pfister Hotel for Milwaukee’s Magnificent Bride show.

Visit the Milwaukee’s Magnificent Bride website for more details and to purchase tickets.

The Pfister Hotel Receives AAA Four Diamond Award, Gives Away Diamond Pendant

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee has received more precious diamonds—and also has given diamonds away to a lucky winner! The Pfister was recently awarded the AAA Four Diamond award for the 35th consecutive year. Leading up to this year’s announcement, the hotel held a contest in which one contestant was awarded a diamond necklace.

“We are honored to have been recognized again with AAA’s Four Diamond award,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister. “We are proud of the high level of consistent service we offer our guests and are committed to maintaining this critical focus in the years to come. It is a privilege to be ranked among the top four percent of all hotels in the country that have received the esteemed Four Diamond award.”

Last year, The Pfister was one of only 14 out of more than 50,000 properties recognized with the honor for 34 consecutive years—since the inception of the ranking itself in 1977. To qualify as a AAA Four Diamond hotel, applicants must undergo an intensive evaluation process that assesses the hotel’s cleanliness and condition; management and staff; exterior, grounds and public areas; guestroom décor, ambiance and amenities; bathrooms; and guest services.

“The Pfister certainly knows the meaning of customer satisfaction, as it consistently delivers premier experiences, complete with superior personal service, first-class amenities, and impressive surroundings,” said AAA Wisconsin Regional President Tom Frymark. “To uphold the Four Diamond rating for 35 consecutive years is a testament to their commitment to providing the absolute best experience for their guests.”

On New Year’s Eve at The Pfister Hotel, Cortnie Pfarr of Racine, Wis. was announced as the winner of a 14K white gold, black and white diamond pendant from Kloiber Jewelers for participating in the “Find a Diamond, Win a Diamond” contest held by the hotel, which was held to celebrate the previous 34 years The Pfister had received the award.

Built in 1893, The Pfister Hotel has been the premier downtown Milwaukee hotel for more than a century, and continues to celebrate a tradition of gracious service and impeccable style. Home to the largest collection of Victorian art of any hotel in the world, The Pfister is a member of two of the industry’s leading organizations: Historic Hotels of America and Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Located at 424 East Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, The Pfister can be found online at, on Twitter (@Pfister_Hotel) or on Facebook at

Postponing Monday

I read as much as I write. Books invade how I see the world and lately, sovaldi I’ve been reading authors who describe characters writing letters or the letters being read. I often join my literary world with my visceral world at the Pfister, each time I sit down, I feel as though I should pen a letter.

The setting is perfect for it, of course. I’ve told you before about the endless soft chairs and nooks and crannies. Yet, rx in my travels through the hotel, I’ve only met one woman so far who was writing in a journal or notepad. Blackberries and iPhones are the tablet of choice for those constructing sentences, but there is a romance in the halls of the hotel that people (and their pens) just aren’t taking advantage of.

If I were to pen a letter to my friend about tea this week, I’d have to start with descriptions of the hum. There were two beautiful women waiting for their party when we arrived and though they very clearly were chatting with each other, their softened tones created only a hum in the air. Surely the soft upholstery of the furnishings also absorbed whatever gossip they were sharing, but the peaceful quality of knowing they were fully engaging each other without forcing us to be a part of what they were saying was refreshing. I dare you to find that the next time you’re in the grocery store line behind someone arguing on a cell phone.

When the rest of the women’s party arrived, it was clear a family function had begun. More than eight women gathered and listened intently to the presentation of tea. This is my favorite part, all the history and story and recipe making of the teas themselves and it was clear one woman in the party was mesmerized. To say she was well dressed is not fitting. If I were to describe her, in this unwritten letter to some friend or sister far away, I’d have to say she embodied winter. A crisp ivory fur hat met its match at her dangling earrings that sparkled and made for perfect snowflakes. Her coat, bangles, rings and sweater were all ivory and full of softness and sparkle and she didn’t flinch—not a single muscle—as she listened to John describe her teas.

This calm fascination, respect, peacefulness is one of the best parts about the tea service. But it’s not the only one. As my friends and I caught up on our gossip over the comforting beverage, a threesome joined the event. They stood out in their dress, clearly not expecting high tea, but rather, a quick escape and cup of coffee. They laughed as they sat themselves in the seats next to us, but then slowly gauged what was going on around them. Asking for coffee, they were told tea was the menu for the afternoon and they chose to stay.

That decision came after the woman in the group turned slowly and eyed our array of delicacies. Though we were willing to describe them to her, she never asked and we couldn’t bear to interrupt because she visually consumed each treat on the elaborate tray one by one and mirrored the same fascination our lady Winter displayed only 30 minutes before.

It’s these simplicities that the Pfister cultivates, but more should recognize. It’s the craft of penning an elegant letter and the slow, careful strokes of neat handwriting. It’s the artful description of leaves in a jar and careful arrangement of snacks on a tray. Simply admiring these elements slows you down, gives you the pause life often begs you to take.

Sure, there’s call for a snow day in Milwaukee. Many are thankful for the “free pass” from work or life events. It’s a mid-week postponement of everything. But each time I take friends to tea at the Pfister and share the event with others who understand, I get to postpone my Monday at my choosing, not Mother Nature’s.

Ryan Seacrest on 99.1 The Mix [AUDIO]

On January 26 on 99.1 The Mix, Ryan Seacrest reflected about his stay in Milwaukee and how much he enjoyed his time at the Pfister Hotel.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: The Pfister: 1.26 Ryan Seacrest

Did you watch American Idol’s visit to Milwaukee?

Stay Safe During the Storm: Pfister Hotel Offering Special Snow Storm Rates

Those unlucky suburbanites stuck downtown during the looming blizzard will receive special overnight rates at all three of Marcus Hotels & Resorts’ Milwaukee properties Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights (Jan. 31-Feb. 2). The Pfister Hotel will be offering overnight stays for guests at a reduced price of $100. The Pfister Hotel also will be offering half-price parking in their covered garages.

Those concerned about making the commute to and from work can pack an overnight  bag ahead of time and later head to one of Marcus’ great hotels. With award-winning restaurants, excellent room service, business amenities and much more, guests will be happy to be snowed out and enjoying some of the best hotels in the city.

Reservations must be made by calling (414) 935-5942, no more than 24 hours before the guests’ stay.

Playing Dress Up

We’re having tea again this weekend. I am on a mission to expose everyone I know to this amazing day out. I was told yesterday, look however, that I am to dress up. One of the friends has bought a new dress just for the tea outing.

It’s important for me to tell you, I see all kinds in the Pfister—and that’s the best part. All are welcome. While the hotel is always dressed in its best (which is impressive) and the staff are impeccable in their uniforms, cialis guests and patrons don garb that ranges from jeans to sparkles (lots of sparkles).

It is not a requirement that you be fancy, well-dressed or even clean-shaven to have a drink, online go to a meeting or dine at Mason Street Grill while at the Pfister. In fact, the most enveloping part of the hotel is ancient photographs of the hotel in its infancy, Milwaukee history all around you, incredible formal service and people in jeans and Uggs talking to you about how “cool” it feels to be in the hotel. These layers of style, ways of being and eras make the experience so complete.

So when my friend bought a new dress for our outing, I realized that though the Pfister allows for all kinds, just like many places in the city, what it does best is make you feel special and important. I regularly spend weekend mornings at Alterra writing. Though I’ve frequented the coffee shop in work out clothes and business casual, I never feel like I have to up the ante to up the experience there.

At the Pfister, I sit up straighter. At the Pfister, I smile wider and I have actually caught myself flipping my hair just so (embarrassing to admit, but true). Every single piece and person in the hotel accepts jeans, your light beer drink order and your snow and salt-stained winter boots.

What makes this local gem such an amazing escape from the everyday, is when you wear your fancy dress for high Victorian tea and don your grandmother’s jewels, no one treats you like you’re playing dress up. It’s not the range of options in mood and appearance that the hotel does so well that makes it worth the adventure. It’s that it is one of the only places that, when you want to feel fancy, swings its doors wide open and lets you.