ENCORE BOSTON HARBOR has changed a lot of preconceptions since the shiny-copper sculpture, 27 floors high topped by the word ENCOREopened 21st June 2019 on 16ha of derelict land between the Mystic River and Alford Street. Take convention food: throughout the 2021 Preferred Global Conference, 16-18 November, the food was superb. Take the light and fluffy chive-topped scrambled eggs on breakfast buffets, next to perfect,tasty, strawberries. One lunch buffet had moist salmon alongside spare ribs – and would you like a glass of wine or a craft beer (hear that, organisers of hotel investment conferences?)?
The final gala, although somewhat hampered by unwanted live music blasting at maximum pitch, was faultless on service and food: in quick order, plates arrived with salad wrapped as a bundle, baby sweet corn and tomato to be doused in consommé, squares of roast fillet accompanied by buttery Maine lobster, and perfect circular towers of chocolate layers. The vintage-unlisted Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon seemed to come from an endless bottle.
Complimentary potables in #807 – a suite, thus double the size of most rooms – were endless bottles of water and 6 sachets per day for the Nespresso, which had an idiosyncratic mind of its own. One morning at 0500, when definitely a full paper cup was required, it would only spew out half-espresso portions, whereas 3 hours later an entire cup was dispensed. EVERY MORNING EVERY ROOM ITEM WAS SO METICULOUSLY REPLACED THAT A CHAT WITH HEAD HOUSEKEEPER ARLETE BURGO BECKONED.
What a ball of fire, what an impressive character, who relocated here, way before opening, after 12 years at InterContinental Boston. For 671 rooms, mostly 65sq m, she has a team of 160, which includes one man: Arlete Burgo does only handle bedrooms as there are others among the total 3,100-strong workforce who titivate public areas, restaurants and bars, the casino and the meticulous grounds.
Her team has daily update-briefings before each shift, which necessities doing 12 units (suites equal 2 units), typical time 25-45 minutes per unit. Making beds is the main challenge and new hires, solely it appears replacing retirees as no-one else moves, spend a whole week of their 4-week induction making beds. It is truly amazing that, covering 24/7, housekeeping can be so faultless. Working with 2-metre high electric carts already stocked by others, and doing rooms by themselves, these people make Californian kings with 5 pillows, all 510-thread Egyptian cottons. Every day items to be re-stocked include quality shaving and make-up supplies, bath salts, 3 soaps, tall piles of folded towels and so on. This is a VERY GENEROUS HOTEL.
Another adjective that could be applied to some departments is labour-saving. GARDEN CAFÉ, up a curved elevator from the main lobby (see image above) cleverly offers the same easy-read menu throughout its 7am-2pm. I breakfasted my final day off an avocado and chevre egg white omelette, with my choice of 4 diagonals of a variety of toasts. From the same selection, I lunched off a cauliflloret-heavy Greek salad with my choice of protein. You barely have time to note tabletop is Bernardaud and Christofle before the food arrives.
Hotel EVP Damien O’Riordan, whose Co Cork accent might possibly have lessened to about 99%, has come up through F&B. 68% of diners are from outside, typically driving here 3 times a month. If Massachussetts mouths want something changed, he. will do it, fast (RARE, the steakhouse, is about to be given a casualisation jolt). Gamers want speedy. No change there. Fratelli, run by Boston multi-unit restaurateurs Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano, is perennially popular, especially for 24-oz bone-in ribeyes with serious-business Knife World 92 steak knife
Venu china and glass and mega-sized popovers. Despite all the mega attributes, this does amazingly feel family, with style. DAWN-BREAK HIKES round River Walk are yet another memory here. So too is the presentation at the final gala – see video below – showing how seamlessly ENCORE BOSTON HARBOR INTEGRATES WITH ITS EVENTS CLIENTS, IN THIS CASE