A Lake Tahoe retreat. Better defining the “Customer Experience”. PART -1

I guess this is somewhat unbelievable, having finally learned my definition of the “Customer Experience”.

Really needing this vacation, I wasn’t sure I was going to get my unanticipated desire to again write. That meaning, it has only been a couple of weeks that I had made yet another conscious decision to once again amuse my audience. I guess I haven’t had a vacation in a long time. Being so exposed for a full 7 days of experiences from a consumer standpoint has been very exhilarating. Having my Wife/life partner by my side has always helped. She is the greatest thing that has happened to me over 30 years ago. I recently told her she is very good/smart in the kitchen having learned simultaneously from television (i.e. Food Network and The Cooking Channel) and from me, having now been through Culinary school. Now, she has learned to observe different things than I, … albeit from a respected female perspective.

One thing she understands, is MY definition of “customer experience” . . . is many times, undefined. I say this because the customer will always experience different things. Simple analogy identifies that a different customer will experience different things; but the same customer will also experience different things . . . even using the same product or service again and again. Think about that for a moment. A customer’s expectation of a product or service begins the total customer experience. Question: Have you ever eaten at, and have you ever returned to eat at McDonald’s . . . ever? Has McDonald’s fulfilled your definition of an experience. Why would you return to the establishment if your experience was bad? Yes I know that sometimes we must return because of necessity and also peer or other outside influences, like going on a date with friends and they all want to go to McDonald’s. Remember, even the finest Chefs still eat junk food.

What can be explained here is our “experience”. Even if we don’t want to eat at McDonalds, sometimes our previous experience defines our expectation of our future experience. From another vantage point; why would we take our car back to the same lowsey mechanic? Why did I return to South Lake Tahoe and stay at Marriot’s Timber Lodge? Because of the experience! Why did I go to McDonald’s after a night of partying with Wifey recently while staying in Laughlin (another experience)? Why, because we just had to have a Big Mac and fries on the way to bed that un-sober eve. F’in awesome!!! I turned my back and the wife sucked down well over half in less than two minutes.

Marriot’s Timber Lodge http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/rnotl-marriotts-timber-lodge/ is located in South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village. South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village is located at the base of the gondola that services Heavenly mountain resort, a ski/snowboard mecca of lifts and trails spanning both Nevada and the California border. That specific location allows the vacationer the option of crossing (a moments walk from the base of the gondola) the Nevada/California state line for a quick game of Black Jack, a pull of a giant slot machine handle or the lucky throw of dice. That “state line” is conveniently located just steps away from the underground Stateline Brewing Company. beers on tap  Stateline Brewing Company is one of the must try’s on my list of excellent customer experiences.  Having visited  SBC on our previous visit, we have found their Italian/American themed cuisine as being one of the highlights their location ads to the ability of on-site several barrel brewing. When there, check out their pastas, salads and fish stuffs. We have never tried the pizza or burgers, but . . . ya gotta try their Italian.

Heavenly mountain resort began our collateral research this visit of the Bloody Mary cocktail. This trip also gets the must try cocktail list in this region. Some of the best Bloody Mary’s we have ever tasted consistently, and I mean BEST Bloody Mary’s were found in South Lake Tahoe. Beginning with Heavenly ski resort’s own Tamarac Lodge, located at the top of the Heavenly Gondola, served a bar breakfast drink that included a stoutly thick piece of candied bacon. We also tried some other that I can’t remember through the alcohol fog; but remember it was good as well, and Echo. Echo probably had the best taste-inspired and creatively displayed works of food/alcohol art/science in the “village”. Echo’s Chance (a server identifying himself as an official Mixologist . . . or student of the science/art) began his assault on my breakfast wallet early on to earn a fine tip. I made sure I vocally communicated to him that his service was exceptional; and it was. Chance had allowed us to taste a roasted garlic Mary mix, and the bright flavors of his roasted lemon Mary concoction. Each had a meal-full of bacon and skewered fruits and vegetables that were pickled along with pickles served with Echo’s sandwich portion of their seemingly, a bit more upper scale menu lunch menu selections.

Searching for Echo that weekday morning, we were hoping they had breakfast; but at 11am, we were prepared for either. I think I remember them having a breakfast special on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We had walked by Echo one of the first mornings upon our arrival and intended to return. Lunch was fine that day; in fact, the Pork Belly Burger w/Tomato Jam was pretty damn good. If you’re looking for it, you’ll see the beer signs from the street but the entrance is business style characteristic of the resort they are attached to. They are on the same side of the street as Stateline Brewing but just before the Stateline walking toward the casinos. Say that three times.

Seemingly everyone has Calamari on their menu in Tahoe. Seemingly everyone has three things; Calamari, Risotto and Pork Belly. I didn’t try any Risotto . . . next time perhaps. I did however eat at IHOP the morning of departure, and absolutely refused to eat any more bacon . . . NO MORE BACON!!!


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