That extra touch that means so much

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For the past several years, I've abandoned my family on Thanksgiving weekend so I can play in a table tennis tournament in Baltimore. The official tournament hotel is the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, which walkways link to the city's Convention Center where we play. The place is convenient and comfortable, though some rooms need refreshing, the elevators aren't the fastest, and getting a full meal at Pisces, the Hyatt's signature restaurant, can be a challenge late at night.

This past Thanksgiving, two buddies and I upgraded to the Regency Club on the 12th floor. An extra $50 a night brought us a free Continental breakfast, hors d'oeuvres during the day and a bigger, more modern room. Good deal, particularly considering we could make sandwiches to bring to the tournament.

There was a slight rub, however: the key cards. When I went to the Regency Club on the final morning for breakfast, the key card wouldn't work, prompting the woman in charge to inquire who I was. I identified myself and told her we'd had problems with the key cards every day; she commiserated, let me in for breakfast and provided Saran wrap for the sandwich I prepared for lunch.

After breakfast, I went back to the room to pack up for checkout. As I was walking down the hall with my luggage, a staffer was walking toward me bearing a tray with a wine bottle and two glasses. I asked where he was going. He said "room 1241." I said that was my room. He asked whether I was Carlo Wolff. I said yes.

Turns out Nicole Jones, who ran the Regency Club that morning, arranged to give me the bottle of wine. Not only that, she wrote a note in which she apologized for the key card inconvenience and wished me good luck in the tournament.

That empowered, gracious gesture meant a lot. Among other things, it meant I'll recommend the hotel—and stay there again for the next tournament.

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