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Gurney's Inn - Montauk, NY - Recap

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Anthony is off to Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, NY, 20 minutes from the Hamptons. Gurney’s Inn is a 109-room beach resort and spa that has been the place to go since the 1920s, with rooms starting at $400. Now there are 43 hotels in the same area all competing for the business and Gurney’s hasn’t kept up. Gurney’s is owned by the Monte family, which has run the hotel since the 1950s. Anthony suspects that the family has become complacent and it’s taking a big toll on the business.

When Anthony pulls up to the hotel, he’s impressed by the view of the ocean. However, the security booth is empty, the service entrance is open to the parking lot, and the captain’s wheel on the wall needs painting. He eventually finds the front desk, surrounded by dead plants and rusting decorations, and sits down with the Montes. The family explains that they’re trying to rejuvenate their image and appeal to a younger crowd, but the general manager, Paul, doesn’t seem to have a clue. Anthony tells them that he went online and found bad reviews for the hotel. He goes over them with the family but Paul doesn’t seem to take them to heart and Anthony figures that he doesn’t care.

Anthony tells the Montes that he went undercover with a hidden camera and plays them a tape of what he recorded at the front desk. The front desk clerk wipes her nose and then hands him a key. The bellman doesn’t know anything about the amenities and Anthony warns the family that they can’t get away with poor service when they’re charging $400 a night. Then he moves on to the restaurant and says that the food was good but the service was terrible. The waiter licks his fingers repeatedly while writing down checks, and the executive chef, Chip, is dumbfounded. Paul makes excuses, claiming the labor pool in Montauk is limited, Anthony tells him that’s garbage and he’s in denial, figuring that getting through to him will be his biggest challenge. He warns them that they’re getting by on the view, not their quality, and Paul takes offense.

After meeting with the Montes, Anthony inspects the property starting with the lobby. There are exposed outlets and wiring, the ceiling tiles are water-stained, and there’s clutter and junk everywhere. It’s dingy and smells and the carpet is stained. Then Anthony checks out the guest rooms and checks for bed bugs in the new mattress. He doesn’t find any but he does check the underside of the toilet bowl and finds dirt. Anthony meets with two of the housekeepers and points out that the carts aren’t secure. They show him how they clean the remote with a clean rag and spray. The ceiling fan is covered in dust and the air-conditioning filter hasn’t been vacuumed in years. There’s no checklist and Anthony tells them they have to check to the things that the customer can’t see as well as what they can see.

Anthony calls in Karen Gorman, an interior decorator, to turn the lobby around. However, he’s worried that the Montes aren’t ready for change. The last time it was renovated was in 1976 and Paul claims that they’re in a traditional period. Karen says there are too many things hanging from the ceiling and there are old-fashioned phone booths. Anthony, unimpressed, wants to rip them out but Paul is reluctant. The concierge desk is too crowded and Anthony wants to clean out all of the clutter. There are large photos of the two men who set up the hotel and Anthony suggests that they should go outside the lobby. He warns Paul that they have three days to do the renovations, and there will be a wedding on the third day.

Next, Anthony talks to the staff and notices that they’re not wearing their nametags in the same place. He meets with the concierge and asks where the bellmen are. When she says they should be outside, Anthony checks and learns that they’re gone. Fifteen minutes later, the bellman comes back and ignores the guest. Anthony talks to him and asks why he didn’t greet the guests. The bellman agrees with him but claims that he’s busy, and Anthony tells him to use the 10-4-2 system. He demonstrates that at 10’, the bellman acknowledges him. At 4’ he greets him, and at 2’ he gives him a personal greeting. Then Anthony asks him why he has three pens and the bellman says that he’s always losing them. Anthony tells him to put them in his pocket, shave each day before coming to work, and adjust his tie.

Figuring that the staff isn’t getting any guidance, Anthony has Paul call everyone down to the beach the next day at 10 a.m. No one shows up and he wonders if Paul can’t handle his staff. Anthony eventually tracks down Paul in the restaurant and the general manager claims that on Montauk time everyone is laid back. He tells the general manager that they need to be on the guests’ time, whatever it is, and storms off.

Anthony heads to the restaurant, where he had to wait a half hour to get a sandwich and put up with the finger-licking waiter. He talks to Chip, figuring that’s where the problems start, and is impressed with how organized and happy the staff is. However, the kitchen staff isn’t coordinating with the wait staff, and Chip blames John, the head waiter and wedding planner Phyllis Monte’s husband. He claims that John wouldn’t have his job if he wasn’t family, and Anthony goes to see John. He points out the poor service he’s had and tells John that there’s no excuse for the lousy service. Next Anthony asks why John doesn’t make sure that the wait staff is maintaining standard uniforms, and John says that they’re all one big happy family. Anthony calls in the staff for a stand-up meeting and has everyone stand up. He tells everyone to look tight like John and show passion. Anthony also tells them to taste the dinner specials so they know what they’re selling so they can upsell it. Once he finishes, he hopes that John will take the lead and have stand-ups before every dinner.

Back at the lobby, Karen and Anthony come up with a plan for the lobby redecoration that includes removing the cluttering and moving the concierge desk. Karen’s team works at night over the next three nights so that they’re ready for the wedding and to avoid disrupting service during the day. Anthony hires a local contractor, Bill Falk, who has problems with the timeframe and the design. Anthony tells him to cut the concierge desk out but Bill balks, saying he can’t do the work in time. Karen offers him some time during the day and Bill reluctantly goes along with the plan.

Anthony checks out the spa and is pleasantly surprised given what he’s seen everywhere else. He meets with Candace Monte and congratulates her. She shows him around and offers him a cgass of their famous “seawater shots,” intended to detoxify. However, Anthony notices an unhappy customer who has received a facilities charge. The clerk calls in Candace and Anthony watches as she explains about the facility fee. The customer complains that no one told him there’s a fee and Candace waives the fee to keep him happy. Anthony congratulates her again on perfectly handling the situation but admits he’s dissatisfied with everything else. He has the cameramen pull back to make Candace comfortable and ask for an explanation. She says that she won’t tolerate anything but perfection, unlike the rest of her family.

Realizing that many of the problems rest with Paul, Anthony has the cameras back off and meets with the general manager on the beach. Paul is still unhappy with Anthony’s style, saying that they’re more laid back, but Anthony points out that nobody is reacting to Paul’s style. The GM keeps making excuses and Anthony points out that the spa staff is on point. Paul seems to get the point and Anthony tries to convince him that he can’t do it all on his own.

On the third day, Anthony meets with Bill and Karen again. Bill has the concierge desk fixed but Anthony is still concerned. Karen jokingly tells him to stop talking about it and let them do their job, and tells Anthony that they’ll get it done.

On the fourth and final day, Anthony returns to the restaurant right before dinner and discovers that John is running a standup meeting. Chip presents the dinner special so the waiters can taste it and John tells them they’ll be giving away a bottle of wine to the waiter who sells the most dinner specials. He assures Anthony that they’re fired up and they’re afraid that Anthony will be coming back.

Anthony calls in the entire family and tells them that he’s impressed with their ability to work together and love each other. However, he warns that their attitude is making it hard for them to give hard decisions. Anthony tells Paul that he has to let the rest of the family share responsibility with him and asks him to commit to getting a director of operations. Paul agrees and Anthony then tells him that he should choose Candace. The GM admits that he’s considered it and said that he’ll give it a hard look, and Anthony figures that they’ll make the right decision.

The Montes then go to the lobby and take in the redecorated lobby. The ceiling tiles have been cleaned and the entire lobby has been painted in white. The concierge desk has been moved away from the front to where they can focus on the guests. The phone booths are still there but Anthony’s team has converted them into Internet stations. Finally, Anthony puts up the photos of the founders and the Montes assure him that they’ve respected the family legacy. He then offers everyone a traditional seawater shot to seal the deal.