Jeremie Varry

A life for the perfect concierge service

Tuesday, 28. June 2016 | Dominik Plüss

The work life of concierges is a world of its own. They commit themselves daily to provide an ideal holiday experience for the hotel guests. In a series of articles, the ES Magazine interviews Swiss and German concierges to have a look behind the scenes of this exciting occupation.

Mister Jérémie Varry is chief concierge and vice president of Les Clefs d’Or Switzerland. This association is part of an international concierge network pursuing common interests and goals. The core of the network is to make their stay something special: “In Service Through Friendship”. stand by national and international travelers all over the world to make their stay something special: “In Service Through Friendship”. We met Mister Varry and had the opportunity to ask some questions about himself, his knowledge and his experiences on providing perfect concierge service.

Which hotel do you work for and how long have you been working there as a concierge?

I Work in the Baur au Lac since the 13th of July 1998, a bit more than 18 years. Here, I was offered the opportunity to work as a concierge right from the beginning. I didn’t only fall in love with the hotel and the city of Zurich, I also got to know my wife here. She was working as a waitress in the Restaurant Pavillon. Therefore, the Baur au Lac bears a truly special meaning for me.

Baur au Lac

Are you living your profession under a certain slogan?

My slogan is „there are only good days“. This gives me the motivation and the necessary ease to master every day with all its challenges. To make every guest happy is my daily aim.

Can you look back on a long career as concierge? How did you get to work as a hotel concierge and vice president of Les Clefs d’Or?

Originally, I strived to a military career. I like uniforms and the strict command structure. Unfortunately, I had to abandon this dream because of a motorcycle accident. Therefore, I decided to attend the Soissons school of hotel management in France. Immediately afterwards, I attended concierge school in Paris. You don’t just become a concierge, you have to feel the wish to be a concierge to pursue the profession with passion and commitment.

After my education, I worked for the Hôtel de Crillon and the Ritz Paris before starting my job as a Concierge for the Baur au Lac.

I am a member of Clefs d’Or since 2003 after awaiting admission for 5 years.

I am vice president of Clefs d’Or Switzerland since 2013 and president of Clefs d’Or Zurich since 2014.

Jeremie Varry

Tell us about the profession of the hotel concierge. What is special about it, what connects you to this job?

When working as a concierge, you help finding solutions to problems. Whatever they may be.
The concierge is the face and the voice of the hotel. He represents the link between the guest and the city, the country or even the world.

As a concierge, I am able to enjoy a very privileged contact to our hotel guests. Often times, I am the first person our guests contact, be it because of issues concerning the hotel, for information of any kind or for personal matters.

The contact with our guests has therefore established and intensified over the years, the mutual interest and connection has been growing as well.

What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages concerning your profession?

The occupation of a concierge only bears advantages. My job as a concierge is the center of my life and I arranged myself in a way that I can schedule and live my private life around it just as I want to. I guess that’s the benefit that I got to know my wife in this environment and our jobs have been the most important factor ever since. No life without a job – like this, we built our own little island around the concierge profession.

To me, the Baur au Lac is „my hotel“ and I don’t want to work anywhere else on the world. Oftentimes, it is a matter of your attitude as well. I only see the benefits: If I am on early morning duty, I have to get up early but can go home early as well. Great! If I am on the late shift, I get to sleep in, perfect!

What was the most challenging task you received from a hotel guest you could execute? Do you reject certain orders as well?

There is a very beautiful story I like to recount: a middle-aged married couple celebrated their anniversary in the Baur au Lac. They booked a nice suite with a view of the Schanzengraben moat. Late in the afternoon, the couple had an argument, causing the lady to rush onto the balcony, stripping her ring from the finger and tossing it in the moat immediately. The husband, shocked by the short-tempered reaction of his wife and distressed by the loss of the expensive ring, contacted the concierge and asked for his advice.

The concierge made use of his network and got in touch with a top-ranking police officer in Zurich who in turn sent out a boat with three professional divers to the Schanzengraben moat. Thanks to the pure, crystal clear water of the Schanzengraben, they found the ring within a few hours. The couple was relieved and on the same evening celebrated their reconciliation as well as the anniversary.

Of course we do reject orders. Be it because we just can’t render it possible or because they are against ethical, political, realistic or legal principles. It is important to be able to say no. It is equally important to be able to say why you are saying no.

Did you have any influential experiences with a special car of a guest?

Many years ago, I was allowed to provide a vehicle for a guest in Monaco. It wasn’t any random car but a Bugatti Veyron, the dream car par excellence. A drive was flown in to Nice just because of this and he chauffeured the car safely to Zurich. Shortly afterwards, the guest arrived to enjoy his two-week stay at the Baur au Lac. At the arrival, the guest was advised that the car was ready in the car port. As the guest didn’t use the car for a whole week, I informed him about it again, only reaping a nod. Throughout his whole stay, the guest didn’t use the car a single time. Thus, the driver chauffeured it back to Monaco. To be in touch with such extraordinary cars days is something very special to me.

Rolls Royce Phantom

Have you seen the movie «The Grand Budapest Hotel»? What do you think of it? How do you envision the concierge profession in 50 years? What will change?

Yes, I think the movie is fantastic. It’s a funny production and credibly represents some important points like the communication among concierges. The trust between guests and concierges is represented accurately and shows that guests often trust their concierges blindly.

I think that the concierge profession will be changing throughout the next 50 years, not least because of technology. But in spite modern technology, I firmly believe that personal contact, specifically with concierges, will be important in the future. Maybe it will be more important than ever, as technology produces distances between people. These distances can become more human and emotional again through personal encounters.

Do other concierges have a similarly positive and optimistic view on the concierge profession and the future development? Or do considerably different opinions exist? Find out in the next article of our series!

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