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James LambogLia The Plaza hoTel
Years of Service: 8 | Organizational Affiliations: Les Clefs d’Or USA, NYCAHC (Board of Directors) How and when did I become a Concierge? My career in the hospitality industry started as a front desk receptionist at a small boutique hotel in San Francisco called the Commodore, part of the Joie de Vivre hotel collection. Here, I learned everything about working in a hotel: checking in guests, concierge, reservations, even acting as a bellman. I then moved to Chicago and worked as a front desk agent at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Chicago— renowned for its exceptional service. I worked my way up to front office management and transferred to Chicago's sister property in Manhattan, the Four Seasons Hotel New York. In New York, I started to become interested in the idea of becoming a concierge. I became the chef concierge at the trendy Hudson Hotel. Later on, I moved to the W New York. Now, I am very happy to be at the legendary Plaza Hotel. What does “being a Concierge” mean to me? The concierge is the person who makes everything go smoothly during a stay at the hotel. No task is too big or too small. The concierge also relates to guests on a more personal level. We know our guests' likes and dislikes. We plan proposals and birthday celebrations. We make memories. We are problem solvers. Being a concierge in New York City is a blessing, and I am very grateful. It is also a challenging and exciting position. There is so much going on in our ever-changing city. New York City concierges have to keep up with all the new shows, restaurants and clubs opening and closing and know what is in fashion or not. The position also allows you to use all of your talents, contacts, creativity and intuition. For me, the most rewarding part about being a concierge is a guest coming back and saying that they loved my recommendation or that they had a wonderful time. As an ambassador of New York City, I want my guests to have the best experience in my city. of The Four Seasons New York, The Trump International, worked at The Plaza Hotel, The Helmsley and the Kimberly before spending five years at The Waldorf=Astoria and my current position as assistant chef concierge at The InterContinental New York Barclay. What does “being a Concierge” mean to me? It means constantly learning about the exciting and ever-changing city of New York and sharing that knowledge with our guests. A concierge is that old friend in town who can't wait to show you a great time, someone who cares deeply how you maximize your hard-earned vacation and knows the importance of occasions and lasting memories. A concierge is part psychic, part psychologist. He or she assesses a guest's profile and views New York through their eyes and their dreams. Making dreams come true is a great privilege, and I am deeply honored to become a small part of their lives for the time our guests visit the city, facilitating their fulfillment. Part food critic, part theatre reviewer, part Sherlock, part researcher, but totally passionate about providing excellent service with warmth, expediency and professionalism. What does “being a Concierge” mean to me? When I graduated from college, I wanted to be an ambassador to a foreign country. I ended up working in hotels in the über-international city of New York. I started my career as a concierge at the Hotel Plaza Athénée and I had the pleasure of being mentored by one of the best concierges in the world, Eugenio Chinigo. I wanted to become a master concierge like Chinigo, who was able to handle so many difficult situations with aplomb and graciousness. With his encouragement, I became a member of the international association of concierges, Les Clefs d’Or. I really learned what “in service through friendship” meant. I feel that I have reached that goal of being an ambassador, representing New York City to the world. I don’t solve international crises but I do feel proud to represent a profession that truly allows any traveler to no longer feel like a stranger in a strange land.
JuLieta swanson InTerConTInenTal new York BarClaY
Years of Service: 26 | Organizational Affiliations: Les Clefs d’Or USA, NYCAHC How and when did I become a Concierge? I have been a concierge since my children were seven, six and four years old. They have taught me patience, compassion, empathy, perseverance and humor to see a solution to every situation. A concierge needs to have these attributes. I started in Dallas, Texas, after a neighbor, who managed the Marriott DFW, asked me to apply, and they created the position of concierge for me. At the time, the idea was new and after training as a front office agent, I was given carte blanche to create and tailor the position of concierge. I went on to be assistant director of Guest Relations and sales manager for Hilton Conference Center, chef concierge at The Plaza of The Americas, a Forte Hotel, and The Four Seasons Las Colinas concierge. I was part of the opening team
mcKinLey winston The ST. regIS new York
Years of Service: 24 | Organizational Affiliations: Les Clefs d’Or USA, NYCAHC How and when did I become a Concierge? A graduate of Colgate University, I’ve worked in hotels since 1976, starting at the New Orleans Marriott and transferring to Marriott’s Essex House. I have worked as concierge starting at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in 1987. I speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian and am able to greet guests and colleagues in Greek, Albanian, Polish, Japanese, Tagalog, Haitian Creole, Swahili and Twi. I speak as concierge and a member of the hospitality industry at The New York Technical Institute and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, discussing business protocol and job opportunities.
Raita sawai The kITano
Years of Service: 10 | Organizational Affiliations: Les Clefs d’Or USA, NYCAHC (Board of Directors) How and when did I become a Concierge? My journey started in 1995 when I took my first trip to Europe. It was my first time traveling outside of Japan and I discovered a whole new world out there. It was a real eye-opener and made me decide to venture beyond Japan. After I graduated from university, I moved to a small town in Texas to study English for one year and arrived in New York City to study tourism in 1999. My first hotel job was a school internship program at the RIHGA Royal NY (now The London NYC) working as a guest service agent, looking after their Japanese clientele. I really enjoyed it and found it to
be my passion, taking care of people, and made me decide to pursue it as a career. The Kitano New York had a job opening at their concierge desk and my career as a concierge started in 2002. What does “being a Concierge” mean to me? Concierge means being a magician without using real magic. Guests expect concierges to make their wishes come true. We make it happen with magic, but our magic is knowledge, experience and networks. Magic is very easy to fade, as well as change, so we need to constantly update and strengthen our magic. Concierges also have to be good mind readers, to understand guests’ needs beyond their words. Another role of concierges is delivering hotel services at a more personal level, to make guests feel as comfortable as they would be at home. Being a concierge is such an exciting and unique experience, yet it is not easy. I thank my friends at the NYCAHC and Les Clefs d’Or USA for their support in helping me to meet the challenge. the Millennium Broadway, The New York Helmsley and now The 70 park avenue hotel. I am grateful for every laugh and moment shared as a contribution into my life and career. What does “being a Concierge” mean to me? First, being a concierge to me is being an accomplished world thinker and gentle teacher. Working in New York, you become a diplomat knowledgeable on protocols and customs around the world, so our service is constant—from assisting a southern debutante, to a Russian ambassador, to business endeavors, to family adventures. Second, a concierge is also being part of a family that shares ideas to awaken the senses and supports you when days are crazy. Being part of this community calls us higher. Being a concierge also means quickly thinking on our feet: how to make things possible and educating guests on how to have the best experiences in New York City. We are the gatekeepers that open the gateway to a life of lasting and fulfilling memories.
Roxie mccovins 70 Park avenue hoTel
Years of Service: 10 | Organizational Affiliations: NYCAHC How and when did I become a Concierge? I started working at the front desk of the Millennium Broadway Hotel. It was an exciting time for me. I discovered the hotel had a host of possibilities in the hospitality industry. I cross-trained in different front office departments, including reservations, lobby coordinate, front desk trainer, etc. One day, my manager asked me to become a concierge. She said you are very good with helping people. My first thought was “they help people…really…how?” I was not excited but thought I will give it a try. I was amazed and in love with the constant arranging and searching for things along with creating special moments (A wedding proposal, to a 70 birthday surprise and a piano tuner for a big event). I loved working with the different concierge teams at