Why the Hotel Concierge is your Secret Vacation Weapon!

The Concierge stands by the front entrance of the hotel, smiling a greeting as you wander in and out of your hotel. If you’re like me (and have no clue what a concierge does, let alone how to use one), you shyly smile while simultaneously trying to avoid eye contact. If you are in the silent majority of travelers who have never made use of the resource that is the hotel concierge but always wanted to, you are in luck! Here we break down the mystique for you with the who,what & wheres of the concierge: a cross between a wish-granting genie of the lamp and a human version of Google. Need a weekend dentist or a dog sitter for Rover? The concierge should be your first stop! So stop missing out and start having fun!

Who ever:

I have always imagined the type of person who engages the services of an hotel concierge to be a special sort. Someone with confidence and a low voice, who has the ability to walk gracefully in high heels and a pencil skirt. Mainly movie stars and heiresses.

Not someone like me, a regular Jane with mini-me’s trailing, even with my travel writer hat on! A few recent conversations have me rethinking my position though. After all, A-listers have personal assistants already, and really, if anyone is in need of some fairy godmother (or godfather—without the mob connotations) magic it’s the people like us!

What ever:

My cheeky friend who “Knows Things” from her past life as a flight attendant easily listed off things you could engage the help of a concierge:

“As crew, we asked the concierge for everything! Limo, booze, bicycles, sports equipment, how to get someone in the back door/out the back door, dentist, 24 hour pharmacy, where to get tattoos, where to get a colonic, can you hold my shopping behind the desk for me (while I go out and get more!)”

She  got to know some of her favourites by name and hoped the concierge looked forward to seeing them back. Talking to some people in the business, I’m pretty sure they did! Making dinner reservations (and they certainly will) must get boring. Concierges aren’t just hotel staff, they are ambassadors of their cities, and want the chance to show off! Private guide at a local gallery? Tour of the hotel kitchen? Your concierge will answer “Of course I can!”  You really can’t go wrong!

When ever:

When you find yourself in need of help no matter what that help is, your hotel concierge is up to the task! Keith Dowsing, Chef Concierge at the trendy Kimpton Alexis Hotel in Seattle relates the story of a guest who had plans to propose to his girlfriend on the waterways of Washington state. Keith followed in a kayak in order to capture the magical moment on film. You won’t be surprised: She said yes.

Not every request is so romantic, but the concierge’s job is to attack each assignment with creativity and tenacity. One concierge tells the tale of driving to every convenience store, corner store and paper box in the city to find 50 copies of the daily paper for a guest who wanted the extra copies ASAP late one night. Or the guest who would eat only the cherry Lifesavers, and the concierge emptied boxes and boxes to shift the gems out.

Where ever:

The crème de la crème of the concierge industry is the Clefs d’Or. You may have seen the crossed key symbol on the lapel of your favourite concierge, or remember it from the hilarious scene in The Grand Budapest Hotel where concierges around the globe deftly abandon their tasks to help their brother in need. The movie scene draws from the spy genre, but in conversation with Nella Mirante, the voice of Alberta Clefs d’Or on Twitter, and the Guest Experience Manager/Chef Concierge at the Westin Edmonton, I get the feeling it isn’t too far from the truth. The motto “Service through friendship” refers to the guests, of course, but also to the relationships concierges have with each other. It is an international brotherhood (with a growing amount of sisters) where members call on each other with the common goal of ensuring guests can get what they need, where ever in the world they need it. In-room massage when you arrive at your Paris hotel? Enlist your Clef d’Or concierge for help on this side of the Atlantic, and you’ll be getting your jet lagged shoulders worked by the time you hit the City of Light!

Why ever not?:

So now you know about concierges. I hope you are planning how you will use their services next time you find yourself in a nice hotel with one of these helpful hotel representatives. They are happy to make your stay better, help you plan an itinerary and make the very most of your trip. The goal that was stated and restated to me by those I spoke to is for each guest to leave remarking on what a great city they have visited! As Nella said several times during our chat, to any outrageous or mundane challenge faced: “Of course I can!”