It all happened on a cold and windy night in the late 1880s when the city of Philadelphia had fallen into a deep sleep. Clerk George C. Boldt could in no way imagine that what had happened that day would change his life forever.

When he was on his night shift, an elderly couple entered the small hotel totally exhausted. They seemingly had just completed a long journey and were in dire need of shelter from the storm outside. The young clerk looked at them with great concern as all the rooms had been booked. He gazed at the strong wind blowing outside the window and turned to the couple who were absolutely desperate. He knew that he could not send them out in that weather. Where could they find another lodging when it was that late? 

He quickly decided to offer his room to them, saying, “If you don’t mind, please take my room. I hope that my modest room could accommodate you.”

In gratitude, they took up George’s offer. The next morning, upon check-out, the couple shook George’s hand with a  heartfelt thanks saying, “You would be ideal to manage the best hotel in the U.S. Maybe one day I’ll build one for you.” George smiled and saw the couple out.

George Charles Boldt, Sr. (1851-1916) portrait. (Wikipedia)

One day a few years later, George received a letter accompanied by a ticket to New York. It turned out that the old man was none other than William Waldorf Astor, the billionaire that owned one of the most luxurious hotels in the United States. Sir Astor was committed to the promise he had delivered that night. Astor made George the first manager of his newly built hotel. To his expectation, George introduced the principle of selfless service to the hospitality industry and coupled with his competence, turned Waldorf Astoria Hotels into icons of glamor and luxury in the city of New York. He was known for the quote, “Make the Waldorf so comfortable they will never go to another place.”

George’s story has served as inspiration for generation after generation of hospitality workers and is a testament to the proverb, “You get what you give.”

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