Tales from the concierge

The key to good service

Les Clefs d’Or. It’s a prestigious organisation and international network of hotel concierges who are committed to promoting professionalism and solidarity in the industry. A well-known saying among members is to provide ‘service through friendship,’ and it’s a motto our teams are proud to live by. Regularly tasked with negotiating tables at ‘fully booked’ restaurants or creating elaborate celebrations at the drop of a hat, the team work around the clock to ensure their first response to a guest request will never be no.

Shine bright like a diamond

During his 17-year career at Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Head Concierge Jason Laker Jones has dealt with a whole manner of requests, from the mundane to the magnificent. He may be searching for a horse-drawn carriage one minute and booking a helicopter transfer the next.Horse drawn carriage

“I’ll never forget the guest who arrived at the desk one day with a pair of diamond encrusted shoes. They were worth £20,000 and he asked us to have them professionally cleaned.”  Worthy of more than just a simple polish, the team located a diamond dealer who agreed to help. The guest was delighted with the result and proudly strolled into the lobby sporting his dazzling diamond shoes. Now for his next request. “I need a helicopter and a smoked salmon sandwich to go.” Within 20 minutes, an S-Class Mercedes had whisked the gentleman (complete with sandwich) off to the heliport and he was up and away.

Going the extra mile

NZ

It seems there is no stopping the team; rarely does a guest leave disappointed.  There was once a request for a gluten-free, dairy-free cake – shaped like a black panther and the team managed to have one made and delivered that same day. Then there was the guest who called from Heathrow airport after realising his passport was still in the hotel safe. Jason took the matter into his own hands and personally delivered the item after beating the London traffic on his motorbike. Continuing on the theme of bizarre requests, this next one trumps them all. Where can I find a pair of sheep shearing clippers? One might think, definitely not behind the concierge desk, but the team worked their magic once again. Scouring the internet and an extensive contact list, the item was eventually tracked down on the other side of the world. Of course, this presented another challenge because the guest needed to take them back to the Middle East and was scheduled to leave the UK that week. Within three days the clippers had arrived from New Zealand and they were sent to the guest who was spending his last few days out of town.

Trusted network

For some, circumstances mean they may need to stay at the hotel for long periods of time. Special bonds are made and lifelong friendships sometimes develop. One elderly guest stayed at the hotel for a year while visiting a poorly relative in hospital. When the lady returned to her native France, a member of staff escorted her back and spent a few days helping her to resettle. For the team, it was a straightforward decision to make. “This particular lady had sadly just lost one of her only relatives and it felt appropriate for a team member to accompany her back to France,” Jason explains.

So how does the team cope under the enormous pressure to constantly exceed their guests’ expectations? Fulfilling the many requests of the wealthy, powerful and famous must be stressful when failure isn’t an option. “We call it the swan effect,” Jason confides. While on the surface everything appears cool, calm and collected, behind the scenes, the team is working over-time to make the impossible happen.

Tooth fairy visits

Over at Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living, the team are just as well-versed.

A ‘normal’ week could include scheduling impromptu visits from fantasy folklore figures or arranging a lavish children’s birthday party for 70 guests, complete with its own set design, dinosaurs and fire-breathers (then sending a Rolls Royce to collect several boxes of chicken nuggets from the birthday boy’s favourite fast-food restaurant). The team do their utmost to make it happen and then some.

Head Concierge Dan McCaskie, explains how the team rallied round to help one of their younger guests who had experienced a particularly stressful few days in the capital. During a trip to Hyde Park, the girl had accidentally fallen into the Serpentine lake and arrived back at the property somewhat dishevelled. On speaking to our colleagues, they noticed she had a wobbly tooth and a few days later, her gappy smile revealed it had fallen out. Such was the rapport built up with the family, a lifestyle assistant seized the opportunity and arrived at the family’s room one evening dressed as the tooth fairy. It was a heart-warming story and one that epitomises the level of service afforded by the team to their guests.

 

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