Dianne Pepe, CHS, director of sales and marketing at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, is enthusiastic about the hotel’s new look and friendly hospitality.
“We completed a $20 million renovation last January, and my experience during the past year being part of restoring the hotel has been wonderful. It’s my passion because I wanted to be a part of restoring it to its proper status as the number one hotel in Princeton!
“We are the largest hotel in Princeton, and by virtue of the renovation, the newest,” continues Ms. Pepe. “We offer an eclectic mix of dedicated and flexible meeting space, and we have the largest guest rooms in the area. We also have the largest lounge and the fastest Wi-Fi on the market at 100 megabites in our meeting space.”
Ms. Pepe began her career at the Hyatt 20 years ago, then moved onto other hotels, as well as serving most recently as director of sales and marketing at the Milennium Broadway in New York City. “This was my first hotel,” she says, smiling, “and now it is wonderful to be back.”
During the renovation, numerous changes have been incorporated into the physical setting, and in particular, the meeting space has been significantly expanded. “We have added 11 new meeting rooms, all with natural light and 10-foot ceilings,” she reports. “Overall, there are 30 high tech meeting rooms with A/V and Wi-Fi, available for events. Corporate events can have as many as 350 people attending, with 75 to 125 a typical number.
“There are a lot of leadership training sessions during the corporate events, and we will provide catering. This can include continental breakfast, lunch in the banquet room, and late afternoon snack. Corporate guests are from all over the world, and often spend a few days with us.”
In addition to the business-focused meetings, other groups, including historical organizations, select the Hyatt as their hotel of choice while exploring areas in and around Princeton.
“We recently had 1200 people with a travel company whose focus was history,” says Ms. Pepe. “Of course, Princeton is a terrific place for history — especially the American Revolution era. There is the Princeton Battlefield, George Washington’s headquarters in Rocky Hill, Washington’s Crossing, etc. This area is an important part of the history of the U.S., and one of my favorite things is to talk with guests about the history of Princeton.”
The Hyatt is also noted as a venue for weddings and galas, she adds. “Wedding receptions are a huge part of our business. We are a complete wedding venue, and typically, we have anywhere from 150 to 200 guests, with 400 to 600 at ethnic weddings. To plan a wedding with us, it’s best to book 12 to 18 months ahead.
“We are also the location for most of the galas and fund-raising events in the area, including the Eden Institute, Catholic Charities, and St. Francis Hospital. In addition, we are a big prom headquarters, hosting six to eight proms a year. Political functions are also often held here.”
Around the World
Ms. Pepe notes that the hotel is the choice of many guests who attend their Princeton University reunions, and it has a strong association with the Princeton University sports program.
Since it opened in 1983 at 102 Carnegie Center, the Hyatt Regency Princeton has welcomed guests from around the world. Its 330 guest rooms are spacious, with all the amenities, including TV, wireless internet access, shower/tub combinations, complimentary toiletries, hair dryers, complimentary newspapers, etc.
Other amenities include 24-hour front desk service, indoor heated swimming pool, business center, fitness center, two outdoor tennis courts, running and biking paths around the hotel, gift shop, and dry cleaning/laundry service. In addition, the hotel provides complimentary shuttle service into Princeton.
It has also instituted an optional ‘Green Plan”, notes Ms. Pepe. “If guests wish, they can re-use their towels and sheets and not have fresh ones every day. It helps to reduce over-use of detergents and waste of water. It is completely optional. There is a card in every bathroom that guests can use to indicate their preference. Many guests are now selecting the green program.”
The renovation included a new look to the hotel’s signature atrium lobby, with lounge, waterfalls, and pond (featuring 50 koi in strikingly beautiful colors). Guests can relax and gather here to sip a specialty cocktail during Happy Hour, which also includes appetizer specialties.
For serious dining, the hotel’s new dining room, the “Artisan Kitchen,” offers Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, described as “Food, Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served.”
“It’s farm-to-table,” explains Ms. Pepe. “Our menu features food from natural, local, and sustainable sources. We have food options that are good for guests, good for the community, and good for the planet. We also have a chef with a lot of new energy!”
Private dining rooms and room service are also available, and there is a “Bed & Breakfast” special available, as well.
The Hyatt Regency is also unique in the area in offering on-site entertainment, with its Catch A Rising Star Comedy Club.
Ms. Pepe is very proud of the hotel’s staff, many of whom have been employees since it opened. “At the end of the day, it’s the people who set you apart. The staff at the hotel is the best staff ever. They are genuinely caring people who welcome our guests. I can teach someone to work a computer system or how to check in guests, but you can’t teach someone to care. And all our staff truly cares about the guests.”
This emphasis on hospitality is very important at the hotel, she points out. “We are highly personalized hospitality professionals. It’s a more informal age today, but there is still an elegance to a hotel. From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to work in the hotel business. I had had lunch in the Waldorf Astoria in New York with my aunt, and it was so special. I never forgot it. Now, in a graceless age, we are trying to provide our guests with an unforgettable experience.”
A lot of work, attention to detail, and constant focus are needed to make that happen, she adds. “The challenge is to exceed people’s expectations. Meeting them is not enough. We are always looking to go beyond and thinking ahead. You cannot sit back on your laurels. You must adapt to change, and we continually have to reinvent ourselves.”
Listening to guests’ comments is part of that, she notes. “We always pay attention to our customers’ suggestions. It might be something as simple as the inclusion of a sleeping mask in a room.”
The Hyatt is very competitively priced, she adds, and it also offers a variety of promotions and specials. “We offer discounts for business guests who stay two nights, and we recognize a company of the month and offer it discounted rates. We are focused on being responsible corporate citizens.
“We also advise guests about all the opportunities in Princeton. We are part of the cultural traditions and ambiance of the Princeton community, including supporting McCarter Theater. We participate in the events in town, and are involved in the Princeton and New Jersey Chambers of Commerce and other organizations.”
Ms. Pepe adds that she is proud to be part of the Hyatt Regency Princeton operation. “I love my job, and I love what I do. If you make your passion your vocation, you will never work a day in your life!”
Check in time at the hotel is 3 p.m., check out time is noon. (609) 987-1234. Website: www.princeton.hyatt.com.