The word ‘concierge’ is traditionally defined as ‘a hotel employee whose job is to assist guests by booking tours, making theatre and restaurant reservations.’ However, the reality is rarely this straightforward and at times people behind the desk work nothing short of miracles. Here we reveal some of the most memorable experiences created at Madinat Jumeirah and why you should never underestimate the power of the concierge.
Record breaking check-in
I met with Brian, the Concierge Manager at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, who shared some incredible anecdotes from his time in Dubai. While his standard to-do-list may include reuniting guests with lost property or sourcing a dozen red roses, his job can change dramatically from one minute to the next. Perhaps his most memorable day was when a group of 900 guests (armed with no less than 1,500 suitcases) arrived at check in. The group was in town for a global conference and it was a day the concierge team would never forget. As the six truck-loads of luggage were unloaded, everyone prepared to make history. In just 60 minutes, every single suitcase had been delivered to the guests who were staying across the resort. Reflecting on that day, Brian said: “To be the best, we need to think like the best. This was a fantastic display of teamwork, a great day with memories that will not be forgotten by any of the people who were there.”
The romance of a concierge
Another memorable occasion was when a man asked for help in putting together an extraordinary two-day marriage proposal. The itinerary incorporated a Rolls Royce Phantom; a cruise around the Arabian Gulf in an 85ft yacht (adorned with hundreds of rose petals); sundowners on a deserted island and a private dinner back on the mainland beach. The surprises continued on day two with a visit to the Burj Khalifa, a chauffeur driven Mercedes Maybach and a helicopter tour of Dubai which concluded on the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah helipad (shortly before the lucky lady in question said yes.)
Continuing on the marriage theme, a family of VIPs once arrived for a wedding and had booked over 200 rooms at Madinat Jumeirah. A dedicated team of butlers was on stand-by to deal with any requests at a moment’s notice. Keeping in mind the nature of the event and the status of the clientele, the team surprised the wedding party with special gifts throughout their stay. They also successfully procured a beautiful white horse for the traditional wedding procession or baraat.
Perhaps one of the most unprecedented events I heard about was the bride-to-be who excitedly requested a yacht for her arrival on the big day. The team didn’t think it possible but rather than simply saying no, ‘plan b’ was hatched and after extensive discussions with the hotel engineers and the events team, it was decided there was only one thing for it – to construct a temporary jetty.
Exceeding our guests’ expectations
The work that goes on behind the scenes never ceases to amaze me and sometimes simple gestures are equally as special. This next story may sound fairly mundane but the impact on the guests was far-reaching. An elderly couple visiting from Europe checked into Jumeirah Al Qasr and asked for help in finding a bottle of their favourite Oud. Given their age, the team didn’t think it was fair to send them to the busy shopping malls to search for the fragrance so a member of the concierge team decided to go and look for the perfume herself. I also remember a wonderful story that came from the food and beverage team about a gentleman who presented the waiter with a recipe for his own detox juice. Our colleague had a word with the chef and returned shortly after with the freshly made drink. He ensured it was made every morning for the remainder of the gentleman’s stay. Incredible service and perhaps what one might expect when staying at a luxury hotel however, I’m sure no guest would expect what happened 12 months later. When the guest checked back in the following year, as he walked into the restaurant, the waiter recognised him. Remembering the recipe, unprompted, he then surprised the guest with a glass of the specially made juice.
To be a successful concierge, initiative is key. During a conversation with a guest staying at Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf, the butler made a mental note of the gentleman’s desire to visit the Taj Mahal. Rather than simply talking the guest through where to go, he created a personalised guide book full of insider tips and local knowledge. When another guest checked in struggling with jetlag, the team made a special pick-me-up drink with ginger extract. And I mustn’t forget the lady who commented how much she loved the scent in the lobby. Now whenever she stays, the team always provides a sample of the fragrance for her to take home.
So while the concierge desk was once simply a safe place to keep luggage or to ask for directions, the teams have become instrumental in ensuring the hotels regularly exceed expectations and keep our most valuable assets, the guests, happy.