Traditionally defined as “a hotel employee whose job is to assist guests by booking tours, making theatre and restaurant reservations,” the reality of concierge work is rarely this straightforward. There are over 1,600 colleagues from 75 countries working in Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which makes the world’s highest staff-to-suite ratio 8:1. At times, they work nothing short of miracles.
Here we reveal some of the most memorable experiences created at Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts and why you should never underestimate the power of the concierge.
Over the years, Jumeirah’s guest relation team has had their fair share of unusual requests. “The first thing I do in the morning is get to know my guests and learn more about them,” says Amber Shen, Guest Relation Manager at Jumeirah Burj al Arab.
“We focus on one guest at a time,” says Amber, “because we want to provide them with our full attention. We want to ensure all our guests experience the best service at Burj al Arab, and so we create unique experiences to wow them.”
Amber isn’t kidding: when one guest asked where he could find a particularly scarce Tom Ford suit to wear to an event in just a few days’ time, it was a race against time. After many phone calls to malls in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, then further afield in London, the Burj al Arab team was struggling to locate the item. Eventually, the suit was found in Saudi Arabia but that presented a new problem.
Despite the fact the guest was willing to pay for someone to travel and collect the suit, visa requirements meant that this wasn’t a viable option. The team then found someone in Saudi Arabia who was willing to personally bring the suit over. The gentleman was asked to bring pocket squares, cuff-links and an open collared shirt back with the suit and all items were all delivered to the guest within the deadline.
“My favourite part of the job comes whenever we go beyond guest expectations where we see how much a guest appreciates our efforts,” Amber tell us. This can mean embracing the sublime. “We once had a guest staying with us who had a number of toys staying with him in his suite. Each toy had its own name. Whenever we greeted our guest, we needed to greet his toys by name; when we said goodbye, we bid farewell to the toys as well.”
The job also entails personal touches, which Amber has mastered over her years: “Once I checked in an elderly lady travelling without her husband. She mentioned the trip was supposed to be for both of them, yet her husband couldn’t make the trip last minute due to health condition. She wasn’t sure if he’d ever have the opportunity to visit Burj Al Arab again, and so I prepared two caps with their names on them and wrapped as a gift for her before her departure along with a personalized message. The lady cried when she opened the gift.”
“At Burj al Arab, we strive to provide personalized service to our guests, not only during their stay, but long before their arrival and long after their departure.” One such example is the South American family who asked for a personal shopper to accompany them on a spree around the city’s malls. Before they entered the shops, a Jumeirah private butler briefed the assistants on sizes, requested limited edition items, and ensured identical outfits were available for the family’s girls. Laden with goods, the family went back to the hotel in the Rolls Royce and soon left for Paris.
Pleased with yet another satisfied customer, the concierge team was surprised to receive a phone call from the guest in Paris who said she’d been sold two right shoes. The team began trying to make arrangements to courier the wrong shoe back to Dubai and the new shoe over to Paris. On realising the logistics, the guest simply gave the go-ahead for the concierge to buy the two left shoes instead. The items were sent over to the hotel in Paris and a few days later the delighted guest was presented with her missing shoe.
However there is no time to be complacent: as soon as one request is dealt with, the next is never far away.
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