Historic Lens

As promised, Amanda has forwarded the photos from her  and Dan’s photo shoot.

It’s incredible to have lived the experience with them, but then to see some of the chosen photos and the angles and moments their photographer, Chloe from Life Tree Photography captured recreates the experience in an entirely new way.

I hope that’s what the blog does. I know what it’s like to talk with guests about my little notebook, their vacation, their work, their families and traditions. I know what it’s like to say “But the Pfister is just beautiful!” But even better, experiencing it yourself and seeing the recanted tales must double the power of memory, experience and more.

Some of her photos capture only a glimpse of the hotel, which is what is so intriguing to me. The patterns on the floor stand out to me because that’s what I’m attuned to seeing. Yet, in the photo, it’s Amanda and Dan who steal the scene.

Engagement photos at the Pfister bring a Coke and a smile.
The infamous balloons--charming, but a far less glamorous photo than Chloe's.
The Pfister as backdrop for creating a memory…
The balloons we saw Dan walking down the street with weren't the important part here.


Seeing them in period garb also enlivens the hotel. My favorite is the photo of the pair exiting the hotel and the large revolving doors behind them. Though the photo was taken in 2011, they could have been walking out of this very same Pfister 60 years ago.

Enjoy some snippets from another perspective and relish with me what it’s like to experience the hotel twice–from different angles, through a different lens–and then come down and capture your own moments, because if you haven’t figured it out yet, there are doors and floor patterns and chandeliers aplenty for you to sneak into your memories.

Meet ‘n Greet Monday! Have you met Harold?

Well it’s Meet ‘n Greet Monday! One of our new updates for our fans.  While the Pfister Hotel has housed many celebrities of the years, the true stars are our staff. Every week you will meet a member of our staff, and have your chance to share your memories and interactions with them. The first you will meet is Harold, our Bell/Valet Captain.

Name – Harold

Position – Bell/Valet Captain

How long have your worked at the Pfister Hotel? – For 4 1/2 years, I started in 2006.

Why do you like working at the Pfister Hotel? –  First of all, just the history of the Pfister Hotel makes it a pleasure to work at.  Then, the opportunity that I have to meet all of the guests that come through the doors of the Pfister.  Lots of memories!

What’s your favorite Pfister memory? – When I had the opportunity to meet and assist with the candidates for Vice President of the United States, including then Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden.

Tell us something we don’t know about you? – I am a big fan of country/western music, and I like to sleep with a night light on, at all times.

What is the oddest/weirdest request that you have ever gotten from a guest? – To tell people what side of the hotel would be the haunted side, but I never reveal any secrets.

Thank you Harold for being our very first “Meet ‘n Greet,” and for the great answers.

Have you met Harold before?  Tell us a story about meeting him.  Thank you so much for being fans of the Pfister Hotel, and look forward to a new person to meet every Monday.

Diamonds are Forever

In 1971 the seventh Bond film in the franchise was released, cure “Diamonds are Forever,” starring Sean Connery as the dashing British spy working for HRM Secret Service.  This film made its mark on pop culture, and will continue to do so.

A few years later in 1977, mind AAA introduced the Diamond Rating system that it would use to rate lodgings across the United States and the World.  AAA Defines a Four Diamond property as such, “these establishments are upscale in all areas. Accommodations are progressively more refined and stylish. The physical attributes reflect an obvious enhanced level of quality throughout. The fundamental hallmarks at this level include an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail.” Now if that doesn’t define the Pfister, what does?

That first year The Pfister Hotel, in Milwaukee, WI won the “Four Diamond Award” and has continued to do so for the next 35 years.  Here we are in 2011 celebrating our 35th win.  The Pfister Hotel is among a very rare collection of hotels worldwide to have held this honor, consecutively, since the awards conception.  Only 14 hotels have held this record. Not only that, but the Pfister Hotel was the first in the state of Wisconsin to receive this accolade.

“This is a great honor for the hotel to receive this award, and we accept it humbly with our thoughts on the future.” says General Manager, Joe Kurth.  The entire Pfister team takes pride in the award.  Many associates helped hang the award in the entrance to the hotel just as many have helped us earn it each year.  This award wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of our staff throughout the years. Their diligence, determination, and commitment to excellence are what keeps the AAA Four Diamond award coming to the Pfister Hotel.

So at the Pfister Hotel, it seems that Diamonds are Forever, at least the ones awarded by AAA.

Joshua Wolter

Hotel Assistant Manager

Cafe at the Pfister New Menu Tasting [PHOTO GALLERY]

Chef Robert Ash took some of the Pfister staff aside to let us know of some items he is dreaming up for the new Pfister Cafe.

Have a look, see let us know what you think. Vote for your favorite items by “liking” or commenting on the image on Facebook.

We know we can hardly wait for the new cafe to open near the end of March 2011. Follow Joshua as he provides a tour of the new renovations to the cafe.

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 www.thepfisterhotel.com, on Twitter (@Pfister_Hotel) or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thePfisterHotel.