In the movie “Johnny Mnemonic,” the lead actor, Keanu Reeves, says, “I want my shirts laundered like they do at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.”

That line wasn’t in the script, it was ad-libbed by Reeves, who, no doubt, had stayed at the Imperial and had his clothes laundered by their in-house service.

How do they launder shirts at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo? The same way they launder all clothes there: perfectly.

When a guest’s laundry arrives for washing, each piece is inspected. If a garment is missing a button, a matching button is sewn on. (They have drawers and drawers of buttons of different sizes, shapes, and colors.)

If something is stained, the stain is removed, but not with a generic, over-the-counter stain remover. The workers in the laundry are experts who can tell by look and feel what material they are dealing with and the nature of the stain, allowing them to apply the specific process needed to remove the offending mark.

The clothes are also laundered according to material. If ironing is appropriate, they are carefully ironed. If folding is appropriate, they are folded by people who know, really know, how to fold clothes.

I read of one man, who when he travels to Japan and stays at the Imperial, always brings a large suitcase full of dirty laundry, which he immediately sends down for cleaning.

Laundry is not the only thing the Imperial Hotel does perfectly. It does everything that way. They have a motto: 100-1=0. It means when it comes to hospitality, anything less than perfection is not acceptable. According to the motto, if 100 represents perfection and you subtract one, it does not equal 99, it equals zero.

How does the formula apply to the cleaning of guest rooms?

Two members of housekeeping clean and prepare a room, taking 20 minutes to do so. They have high standards and leave a room sparkling and orderly.

But that’s not perfection. Housekeepers look at a room with housekeeper eyes. Perfection requires someone to look at the room with guest eyes. After the housekeepers have changed the bedding, dusted, vacuumed, and done all that housekeepers do, an inspector comes and looks at the room.

The inspector is not part of the housekeeping department, but from a separate department in the hotel. The job entails looking at every aspect of a room as a guest would, double checking 150 things to ensure that occupants will encounter nothing short of perfection.

Food in the Imperial is above top-notch. The huge kitchens are staffed by talented people who care about food, know how to prepare it, and know how to serve it.

Though there are many fine hotels in the world, Keanu Reeves didn’t ad-lib a line about one in the U.S. or Europe or the Caribbean. He wanted his shirts laundered like they do at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Search the Web for jibtv 100-1=0 and you’ll find a 28-minute film about the Imperial Hotel and its pursuit of perfection.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: