How long have you been working as Concierge at the Four Seasons Resort in Dubai?
I have been the Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach since February 2017. Prior to this, I was the Chef Concierge at the InterContinental Hotel at Dubai Marina, where I joined the pre-opening team in October 2014 and for the subsequent opening in May 2015.
What brought you to Dubai?
I was always intrigued and fascinated by the energy of Dubai. I was evolving in my Concierge career in Paris for 10 years. In 2014, I was approached and offered the opportunity to join a dynamic hotel team as their Chef Concierge in Dubai Marina. They were looking for someone experienced who could quickly adapt to a new and challenging environment and deliver bespoke service to guests. I immediately said yes to the opportunity, to the challenge and to Dubai.
Can you look back on a long career as concierge? How did you get to work as a hotel concierge and a member of Les Clefs d’Or?
I started working in the hospitality field back in 2003 when I joined the Martinez hotel in Cannes as receptionist. Then, I had the opportunity to observe the Concierge team offering tailored services to guests and working their magic. I knew right then that I wanted to learn more about the Concierge profession and join. However, the job opportunities were only seasonal at the time. I moved to Paris and joined the Intercontinental Hotel at the reception, and moved to a Concierge role soon after.
I became a Clefs D’Or member in 2008 in Paris and I participate in all major international congresses. It is a unique experience where you get to bond with Concierge colleagues from around the world. There is no other gathering within hospitality that offers you such friendships that go beyond brands. In September, I will attend the Asian Clefs d’Or congress in Mumbai. This will be my first Asian congress.
Do you have a particular slogan or guiding principle in your concierge role?
Keep the positive outlook up and the rest will follow.
What, in your opinion, are the biggest advantages and disadvantages concerning your profession?
I only see advantages here. There is no daily routine, every day brings different requests. And I get to work with and meet incredible people on a daily basis, be it colleagues, guests or business partners. There are no disadvantages. I would rather call them challenges. As a Concierge, you should be ready for any challenge.
Do you think there is a difference between working as a concierge in Dubai compared to Europe or the rest of the world?
Every city is unique. Dubai is interesting on so many levels. It is as equally a business and a leisure city. For example, all the fun outdoor activities are right around the corner – skydiving, water sports, desert safaris as well as incredible fun parks, just to name a few. Dubai also has a flourishing art scene. I can’t wait for the next jazz and film festivals and the brand-new opera house that offers an array of world class programming. Everything is right at hand and the city keeps pushing the boundaries of creativity. Dubai also has a rich past, the city has its own Arabic identity and also welcomes cultural diversity. Whether in Dubai or in Europe, as a Concierge I have always been passionate about my job. I’ve always enjoyed opening the gateways to the city in which I live and work in to my guests.
What are tourists like in Dubai in comparison to other hotels you worked at in the past?
Interestingly enough, in Dubai I meet many of the guests I had in Paris as well. We live in a global village and Dubai is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Tourists in Dubai certainly look for the sun, the shopping, the nightlife and all the diverse cuisine the city has to offer, from neighborhood eateries to world-class fine dining. Again, some extreme and diverse sports activities are right at hand. Will it be skydiving, horse riding, golfing, sailing or desert driving today?
And this is just the start. Are you looking for culture? Let me walk you through the hidden arty districts of the city or book you seats at the opera house. I believe our guests know that they are in a unique city offering all sorts of superlatives. The tallest, the highest, the fastest, the newest, the incredibliest! It is a word Dubai has invented. Now with the Dubai World Exhibition, Expo 2020, right around the corner, we expect a flow of guests willing to discover new technologies, renewable energies and the latest sustainable approach to tourism. It is great to see Dubai taking the lead in those fields.
Did you have any memorable experiences with a special car of a guest?
A few months back, I had a guest who rented a supercar to drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. I really don’t know how, but the guest lost his way and ended up with the car stuck halfway into the sand in a remote desert part. The car was tracked through GPS and luckily, the guest was quickly assisted as he was out of mobile phone network reach.
In Paris, I had a guest who wished to propose to his fiancé. He requested a limousine to tour the city, a fancy restaurant organized, and a romantic set-up on a Parisian bridge. At the time, my understanding of a limousine was something along a luxury sedan car, while the guest expected a stretch limousine. The guest was disappointed by the car offered, however, wanted to move forward with his proposal plans. I could read disappointment on his face, although I explained that a stretch limousine could certainly not navigate some very narrow streets on the route organized. His fiancé said yes and saved the day! I always go back to that experience with my team to insist on the importance of details in our Concierge profession.
Have you seen the movie «The Grand Budapest Hotel»? What do you think of it?
Yes, I really enjoyed this movie. The way they describe the network among Concierges, although in a humorous way, is very accurate. There is a strong solidarity within the Clefs d’Or members or the ‘Society of the Crossed Keys’ as described in the film. Monsieur Gustave, the main character, gets quite intimate with his guests and inherits a masterpiece. I must confess I never had such an experience. As Concierges, we get close to our guests as they trust us on many levels. Some guests turn into very good friends, however, there are boundaries we do not cross.
Owning the keys to the city, revealing hidden gems to the guests and working magic through their network gives the Concierge a certain aura. I am not surprised to see the Concierge become the main character of a very successful movie. I just wonder why they did not cast me for the role (laughs).
How do you envision the concierge profession in 50 years? What will change?
In 50 years? We have already seen a lot of changes in the recent past. The Concierge profession has already adapted to new technologies and the loads of information available to guests through their smartphones, their tablets, apps, informative websites, search engines and much more. We are here to assist our guests sort that information and deliver insider’s knowledge that the internet cannot beat.
There was a time when requests from guests were received by postal mail. Today, I need to manage my E-Mails, direct requests from guests at our front desk, text messages directly on my mobile – which may come through at 3am because of the time difference – and deliver on requests on the spot. Today, the main challenge is the 24/7 service – hospitality by definition is 24/7. It never stops.
Something that will never change is the passion that you put in your work as a Concierge. You have to show genuine interest in your guests, and be interesting to them. This is a two-ways route that no app can challenge.