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Checking In With Mark Zettl

Checking In With Mark Zettl

Waterton Residential and Ultima Hospitality operated as separate subsidiaries until fall 2016, when the two platforms were merged to form a single entity, Waterton. Since then, the company has created synergies for both divisions to optimize the guest experience. Waterton calls this Resitality, conveying the idea of recreating the comforts of home for hotel guests and providing hotel-like services and amenities for apartment residents. “Resitality was the convergence of our two platforms,” says Mark Zettl, COO. “It blends together the best of apartments and the best of hotels to deliver an exceptional experience to our apartment residents and our hotel guests.”

How did you come up with the concept of Resitality and how are you now implementing it?
We had two structures running simultaneously and we thought, “Why don’t we merge both platforms?” In the residential space, many of our key competitors are trying to be more like hotels. Yet because we were already a hospitality company, we thought we would have a unique competitive advantage. For that reason, we decided to merge the two platforms. And that’s how we created Resitality. We have joined all aspects of the two brands, including staffing, supply chains, design and construction, human resources, and accounting. We have created synergies for both divisions, and everything is now under one large umbrella. As a company, we are continually refining how we service our guests; we have taken that home-like feeling that residents enjoy and are implementing it in our hotel properties, differentiating our brand in a way that no other company can.

How have you kept staff up-to-date?
Now that Waterton is one seamless organization, we try to encourage exceptional service every single day across all of our properties. Additionally, we have developed an industry-leading service plan program called Resitality Training and have invested over $200,000 in service training for our staff members to make sure they deliver to the best of their abilities. I have done almost every single hospitality job, from dish washing to general manager, which gives me a unique perspective and keeps me grounded. It is the people—housekeepers, dishwashers, and the service staff—that make the entire brand a success. It is not just me sitting in a chair in my fancy office; it is the people who work with our residents and our customers every single day that make their experience enjoyable.

How did technology impact the merger’s success?
The blending of these two platforms has been quite successful. This can be partially attributed to our new digital design process. We now use virtual reality, which saved us so much time during the process of this merger. The traditional way of designing took months, because we would have to order all of the products and then put everything together in a model room. But now, we actually design everything digitally, so staff can simply put on virtual-reality glasses and walk around the model room, making changes right then and there. This industry-leading technology saved us weeks of time.

What does Waterton have in the pipeline? 
Waterton is also in the process of designing and developing a coffee shop called Mia Taso, which we plan to launch this year in both our apartment and hotel retail establishments. It is our own brand and our own program, and we are really excited about that. We have properties in major markets such as Los Angeles and Chicago, where we think the café will thrive. The concept blends our residence, hospitality, and F&B markets, so that all three exist together; we are continuing to differentiate our brand in a way that no other brand can.

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