Making Good Experiences Great

The Lixi Group
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Dedicating almost 30 years of his life to the hospitality industry, Michael Percaccio knows a thing or two about elevating guest experiences, taking them from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Serving in various roles including Area General Manager and General Manager, his current hands-on position as Vice President of The Lixi Group has seen the company make significant advances in just a few years.

When we last caught up with Percaccio in 2019, he described how The Lixi Group got its start with one hotel in 2012. By 2016, the Group’s portfolio had grown to 13 properties and today, the Group is now building number 14 in Massachusetts. Set to open this fall, SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Revere Beach is on scenic Ocean Avenue in Revere Beach, MA.

Adjacent to the sidewalk bridge and boardwalk, SpringHill Suites will feature 168 guestrooms, 6,000 square feet of meeting space, a full-service restaurant/lounge and a full-service Starbucks.

“It’s a beautiful property,” says Percaccio of the hotel’s design, which was inspired by the nearby coastline. Located just 10 minutes from the Boston Logan International Airport and downtown Boston, SpringHill Suites offers easy access to the train system, and is behind the Wonderland transit station, so guests walk from the station on the boardwalk to the hotel.

“The property is going to be ideal for both leisure and corporate travelers,” says Percaccio. “It’s right across from the beach with beautiful views of the ocean which makes us a premier spot for social events, weddings, and things like that. We’re feeling really good about this hotel.”

SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Revere Beach is a beautiful example of how proactive The Lixi Group is when searching for properties in up-and-coming areas.

With its own in-house staff scouting for exceptional locations, the Group was alerted early to the massive Waterfront Square development at Revere Beach. An 11-acre site, Waterfront Square is being transformed into an accessible and sustainable 1.3-million square-foot mixed live, work and play community, with SpringHill Suites in the middle of the action.

“Our owners really get involved with developments in areas,” says Percaccio of the property, purchased in 2015. “This way, we’re the front runner when the area comes around, and we’re going to be one of the iconic properties of the Waterfront Square development.”

To ensure guests enjoy a memorable hotel stay, The Lixi Group is big on staff training, including the Pre-Arrival Experience. Just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees at all the company’s properties were reaching out to guests before they even set foot in the lobby, emailing or texting confirmation messages or phoning about their upcoming stay in advance.

Going well beyond simply making contact, staff ensured guests had directions to the hotel, were made aware of check-in and checkout times, informed about facilities including pools and fitness centers, asked if they wanted to make local dinner reservations, and more.

“We were giving suggestions on what we could do, as opposed to putting out a generic message,” comments Percaccio. Small but vital touches, such as offering a choice of feather or foam-filled pillows or extra towels to guests who were greeted by name and had their requests instantly acknowledged, earned praise for staff and establishment alike.

With the advent of COVID-19, The Lixi Group needed to shift its focus. While still offering guests a superior hotel experience, the Group’s efforts are concentrated on protecting visitors and staff and ensuring their safety.

All traditional cleaning procedures had to be revamped. Department positions became team efforts, as titles became secondary to safety. Now everyone, from housekeepers to the management team, is putting on rubber gloves and sanitizing. Guest rooms, which took 30 minutes to clean pre-COVID, now require 40 to 50 minutes, with soft items like sofas being steam-cleaned.

Following the latest guidelines from health departments and states, public areas of the hotels require thorough cleaning every hour. From the front desk to door handles, elevator push buttons to TV remote controls, clock radios to faucets, and thermostats to banisters and public bathrooms, all high-touch areas are regularly disinfected.

Having absorbed a great deal of specialist knowledge since the start of the pandemic, the highly competent staff at Lixi Group properties also safely assist guests who may come to them for purposes of quarantine, and may or may not be Coronavirus-positive.

With comprehensive safety measures in place, hotel staff collect trash outside rooms, bring food to the door, informing guests of its arrival, thoroughly sanitize rooms, and more. “We’ve become quite the experts on how to treat people who may want to quarantine,” says Percaccio, “including how to assist them and make their stay as comfortable as possible. We are there to help, and not to judge.”

Along with serving guests during COVID, The Lixi Group has also proudly accommodated others involved in the fight against the virus, including medical personnel brought in to perform vaccinations, pharmaceutical company representatives, and members of the National Guard.

While the pandemic has taken a toll on the entire hospitality sector, Percaccio is optimistic and believes positive changes will happen later this year. As of February of this year, the Group was already seeing see some lift in demand, mainly in the leisure market with transient groups. To see this crisis period through successfully, Lixi is intensely focused on current market drivers, including the reality of it being a pandemic-driven market with its own patterns of medical or government guests.

When COVID-19 first struck in early 2020, hotel swimming pools and fitness centers were closed. By that summer, some reopened by appointment only, with capacity limits. As a result, the Group’s sales team went into action, packaging and announcing that swimming pools were open.

“We made sure that we got that information out there the best way we could, mainly through social media and online advertising,” says Percaccio, “and it helped us with our lift. That’s how we tried our best to survive what was happening, and we were successful. Our focus right now – and this is our new initiative which we started in our second quarter – is what we call our road to recovery.”

Remaining committed to ensuring all hotel guests receive the best experience possible, the group is refocusing its service levels and guest room upgrades. Staying on top of shifting state revisions on restrictions, the Group’s sales team has been its front runner, keeping the company active throughout all booking corridors. Depending in market conditions, the Group plans to be well on the way to recovery by the third quarter of this year.

With the need to scale back value-added amenities during the pandemic, The Lixi Group eagerly looks forward to a post-COVID world, where it can once more offer an array of services that truly comprise ‘a home away from home’ standard of comfort and luxury. “Our focus has always been to offer more than just a hotel stay,” says Percaccio. “When it comes to the competition, everybody offers the same things: a bed and a bathroom.”

Along with its Pre-Arrival Experience, The Lixi Group was extremely proactive with Associate Incentives. This saw associates being recognized by guests for their outwork through social media, or conversations with management, with associates sharing in some bonus and incentive pay.

At The Lixi Group, guests are top priority, and this has always been an integral part of the Group’s corporate culture, along with making properties part of the fabric of the neighborhood. While anyone can be trained to a certain level, employees need to bring that something extra that comes from knowing they make a positive difference, and loving it. Making a guest smile the smile of perfect contentment means everything to Lixi Group staff.

“One of our philosophies is, when you’re done dealing with a guest, finished cleaning the guest’s room, and done offering a service level, you look back and ask yourself, ‘Am I proud enough to autograph that job?’ And if you’re proud enough to autograph that job, we say, ‘Job well done.’ We like all our hotels and all our teams to feel that, and be proud enough to autograph their work.”

The Lixi Group has always kept its finger on the pulse of the hospitality industry. Conveniences like breakfast being included in the price, an outlet in the lobby serving food, and brand-name coffee remain important. Once-popular amenities such as business centers aren’t being utilized as much because many guests now have laptops, iPhones and other devices.

What is important today is technology, including reliable Wi-Fi, solid bandwidth, comfortable guest rooms with a pleasant working environment and the flexibility to work from a desk or bed, and USB ports both on the desk and by the bedside.

For the convenience of single travelers or families, all Lixi Group hotels now have Internet TV included. If guests want to access HBO Plus or Netflix, they can sign-in with their login.

“That’s the way of the future,” comments Percaccio. “In-room entertainment upgraded with Internet TVs and Wi-Fi for all your different devices that you may be bringing in; the ability to work from your bed as comfortably as you can work from a desk. That’s what the real focus is now, more so than a traditional conference room or business center.” And with enhanced cleaning protocols, guests are assured of a friendly, safe stay.

The Lixi Group continues to work toward the future, and remains an integral part of the hospitality industry across the United States.

“We are here, and we are working hard to assure your experience is positive at any of our hotels,” says Percaccio. “We take great pride in meeting our guests’ expectations, and in the only surprises being positive ones.”

Sidebar:
The Lixi Group: 14 Properties and Counting
Providing courteous, caring professional service, Lixi Group hotels across America truly offer a ‘home away from home’ for all guests, from solo travelers and business clients to families and large government and medical groups. More than just offering a room, hotels under the Lixi umbrella provide safe, secure stays, and service with a smile.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Revere Beach
Opening this fall, Springhill Suites by Marriott at Revere Beach is The Lixi Group’s fourteenth property. Part of the Boston area’s massive Waterfront Square development, Springhill Suites is located near downtown and the Boston Logan International Airport, allowing for easy and convenient accessibility to the train system.

Hampton Inn & Suites Poughkeepsie, NY
Close to attractions like the Vanderbilt Mansion, The Walkway over the Hudson, and the Home of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Hampton Inn & Suites Poughkeepsie provides a wonderful home away from home experience. Offering a complimentary grab and go breakfast daily from 6am to 10am, guests can enjoy 24-hour access to the hotel’s fitness center, indoor pool, and whirlpool, and more.

Hilton Garden Inn Shelton, CT
Conveniently located in the middle of the city’s corporate area, the Hilton Garden Inn Shelton is an ideal hotel for business travelers and families alike. Nearby shopping and recreational activities abound, along with nationally recognized shops and local specialty restaurants.

Springhill Suites Tarrytown
Perfect for lengthy guest stays, the newly renovated SpringHill Suites by Marriott Tarrytown Westchester provides all the amenities of home. Offering the charm and history of the Hudson Valley, Springhill Suites has spacious suites completed with sleeper sofas, kitchenettes, and luxurious new bedding.

Residence Inn, Pittsburgh North Shore
Conveniently located next to PNC Park and just a block away from Heinz Field, Residence Inn Pittsburgh has all the comforts of home, from king-size beds to full kitchenettes and living room space. And like other Lixi Group properties, guests are assured of safe stays, with hotel staff implementing safe cleaning procedures with electronic disinfectant sprayers in sleeping rooms, meeting spaces and all public areas, along with personal protection kits.

Hilton Garden Inn Norwalk, CT
Ideally located along the I-95 corridor with easy access to Route 7 and the Merritt Parkway, the Hilton Garden Inn Norwalk welcomes travelers and their pets into any of the hotel’s 170 renovated rooms. With a microwave, refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker and complimentary wireless internet access in every room, guests staying at the Hilton Garden Inn can also take advantage of the onsite fitness center, indoor pool, and other quality amenities.

Aloft Lexington
Located just off Interstate 95, the Aloft Lexington is set in a complex surrounded by beautiful woodlands, yet just 20 minutes from downtown Boston. Less than half an hour’s drive from the Boston Logan International Airport, the Aloft Lexington is near world-class shopping and other attractions including Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox.

Residence Inn Andover
Just minutes from the New Hampshire border and about half an hour from the heart of Boston, the Residence Inn Andover proudly provides guests with a comfortable and safe place to stay. An all-suite hotel with a fully equipped kitchen in every room, the Residence Inn’s location near parks and trails makes it ideal for hikers, joggers, and nature lovers of all ages.

Springhill Suites, Pittsburgh
Conveniently located next to PNC Park and just a block from Heinz Field, Springhill Suites North Shore is a ‘home run’ with business guests and vacationers alike. Ensuring all guests are socially distanced, staff are on hand to provide visitors with the safest, most pleasant hotel stay possible.

Hilton Garden Inn, Nanuet NY / Hampton Inn, Nanuet NY
Located on Route 59, readily accessible to the Tappan Zee Bridge, and only 30 minutes from Manhattan, the Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn boasts amenities including coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator in all rooms, complimentary guest parking, free Wi-Fi, and an indoor pool and fitness center.

Element Hotel Lexington
Just 20 minutes from bustling downtown Boston, the Element Hotel Lexington is surrounded by rich colonial history and a vibrant business. Close to sports, entertainment, and culture venues, guests can take advantage of the Element’s Bikes to Borrow program, and explore the historical town and the natural beauty of the minuteman trails at a leisurely pace.

Sheraton Tarrytown
Near to restaurants like the Hudson Anchor and Red Hat on the River, entertainment at the Tarrytown Music Hall, and attractions including the Gothic Lyndhurst Mansion, Sheraton Tarrytown provides the ideal home-away-from-home guest experience. Close to major roadways and rail to New York City, guests including families, couples, and business persons love the Sheraton Tarrytown for its 24-hour fitness center, heated indoor pool, and other amenities.

StayBridge Suites Mt. Laurel
Ideally located in the Philadelphia area, StayBridge Suites Mt. Laurel offers spacious rooms just 12 miles from the city’s downtown. Readily accessible by car or train, the StayBridge is close to world-famous attractions and historic sites including the Liberty Bell, the Old City, Independence Hall, Philadelphia Zoo, Penn’s Landing and much more.

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