Picture this: You've just touched at JFK and are trudging through the airport toward the baggage claim. Outside, you see a weary, huddled mass of travelers braving the cold and an endless taxi line. You turn to find your bags, but before you can take a single step a driver holding your baggage greets you by name and whisks you away to a warm limousine stocked with your favorite spirits, freshly steamed face towels and a TV playing your favorite New York film.
Distracted by the accouterments, it seems only a moment has passed when your door opens and your concierge is escorting you past the front desk directly to your room. A moment later you hear a bottle being uncorked and turn to see steaming silver platters and your favorite wine already set out in the living room. This is the reality of True Waldorf Service, and I'm one of a team of 65 trained personal concierges around the globe whose job it is to create this experience.
As the head concierge at the Waldorf Astoria New York, I've seen and arranged it all: from arranging live music performances for heads-of-state to teaching Japanese guest how to whistle down a taxi. However, it is the challenge of truly unique requests that I relish most. The most memorable of which came from a member of a powerful, high profile Central African family on a six week stay to buy equipment for a new bakery in Ethiopia. To ensure she got everything she needed and paid no more than a savvy, established pâtissier might, I went on a crash course in commercial baking, soliciting insider advice from master pastry chefs in the Waldorf Astoria kitchen and hitting the streets to scout different vendors.
My favorite request came from a family having Thanksgiving dinner in their guest room. Away from home at Thanksgiving for the first time, the family's father sought to do something special for the dinner that would make the family forget they were away from home. So, I worked with the National Museum of the American Indian to coordinate having an American Indian come to the hotel in traditional garb to hold a customary bow and arrow ceremony demonstration in the guest room.
As you would expect, I've produced many romantic occasions with stunning floral arrangements. However, the one that stands out was a 25th marriage anniversary for which we covered every inch of a large suite with unique floral arrangements, including water lilies floating in the tub and flowering vines running down the walls, to achieve a beautiful and romantic affect.
While my guests have come to expect the impossible from Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, a concierge's primary mission is to simply make guests' travel effortless by pre-planning everything so they can skip the wait and get straight to the experience. To achieve this, I need to ensure every staff member is prepared to meet every guest's needs, especially the details. If you tell us once you are allergic to peanuts, we will ensure nothing with peanuts is served to you from that point forward whether it be at a Waldorf Astoria in New York or Rome. It is the very essence of the Waldorf Astoria: luxury that is anticipatory rather than reactive to give guests a personalized experience and elevate their time every stay.