15 Things a Hotel Concierge Can Help You With
From tying bow ties to teaching local languages, there's almost no request a concierge can't handle.
Concierges' skills go beyond just giving local restaurant recommendations.(Getty Images)
Helpful hotel staff known as concierges have long been a mainstay of the hotel experience. Typical duties include helping guests with restaurant reservations, recommending activities in the area and arranging transportation to the airport. But these days, concierges are going far beyond that standard.
"We view a concierge as a savvy superhero, the ultimate insider who can offer the best tips about dining, activities, shopping and excursions in the local area," says Kinson Lazarre, resort manager for Beach Enclave in the Turks and Caicos Islands. "They should be empowered and trained to do everything possible to anticipate a guest's every need and make a stay worry-free."
To help you make the most of your next vacation, U.S. News spoke with various hotel experts about concierge services. Read on to discover all kinds of unexpected ways a concierge can assist you during your next hotel stay.
Popping the Question
Many concierges are actively involved in planning marriage proposals – especially for guests who are seeking an unforgettable experience. For example, the concierge team at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado, helped a groom coordinate a proposal during a mountaintop snowshoe hike. The entire adventure was planned in advance, but when the couple arrived at the desk, the concierge team pretended it was their first conversation and gave them a special set of snowshoes they just happened to have behind the desk.
Similarly romantic, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Cedar Creek, Texas, often arranges private horseback rides for couples who are about to get engaged. The experience includes a set stop at a spot that's perfect for popping the big question.
[Read: Best Romantic Getaways in the USA.]
Learning Local Lingo
Guests of Cap Maison, a resort on St. Lucia, can learn more about the island's local creole language during a lesson with the hotel's concierge staff. "Knowing a few of the popular food dishes in creole really comes in handy when touring the island and enjoying various restaurants in St. Lucia," says Arron Gwinnett, executive assistant manager of food and beverage for the resort. "Taking interest in the local cuisine and language helps visitors to embrace the island. It also makes locals excited to share more knowledge, and it makes [the guests'] holiday even more interesting."
Tying a Bow Tie
The concierge staff at The Willard InterContinental in the District of Columbia are frequently asked to tie guests' bow ties. "I tie bow ties on a weekly basis, especially on the weekends when we have weddings," says Brian Thomasson, a concierge at the property.
Even more extreme, tying bow ties is such a common request at the Kimpton Gray Hotel in Chicago that the concierge team has led entire classes for groups of groomsmen. The property goes the extra mile by offering ties and pocket squares for purchase from its hotel room minibars.
Creating Custom Itineraries
Need some help figuring out what to do during your trip? Some concierges will go above and beyond cookie-cutter responses by creating a customized itinerary tailored to your interests. A guest of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, mentioned to hotel staff that she loved to visit historical churches, so the team mapped out an itinerary for her to visit sites that fit the bill. Needless to say, the guest booked a return trip to the property.
Leading an Art Tour
Art lovers heading to Indianapolis should consider staying at the Conrad Indianapolis, where they can request a curated tour of the hotel's artwork with one of the art ambassadors on the concierge team. Guests will see paintings by famed artists like Picasso, Dalí and Warhol, as well as a rotating selection in the hotel's gallery and lobby.
At La Cucina Sabina, a villa and resort in the Italian countryside, staff often organize tailoring services for guests. "We arrange for a tailor to visit the villa and measure for custom-made suits, shirts, dresses, etc. with fine Italian fabrics and then provide for a follow-up fitting and then shipment to the U.S.," says Giuseppe Micheletta, proprietor of La Cucina Sabina. For example, the resort's concierge team recently arranged tailoring services for a group of financial advisors who ordered shirts, sports coats and suits. After two fittings, the finalized attire was shipped back to the U.S. for them.
Prepping for Pets
Travelers who like to vacation with Fido in tow may be pleasantly surprised by their hotel's concierge staff. Not only are some pet-friendly hotels more than happy to welcome your pups, but they may even roll out the red carpet for them. For example, the concierge team at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch sets up Ritz-Carlton dog beds, water dishes and treats for their guests' furry friends.
Planning a Hike
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch team also frequently helps guests plan hikes around the area. Located in the Rocky Mountains, the upscale property has a dedicated mountain ambassador who stays in the lobby to help visitors decipher trail maps and plan their hiking adventures. He also helps guests plan ski outings in the winter and advises them on how to get ski equipment and enroll kids in ski school. As an extra, the concierge sometimes even skis alongside his guests.
[Read: Best Places to Hike in North America.]
Providing Support for Students
Properties located near colleges and universities often cater to students and their parents. During a recent visit, guests of Boston's Hotel Commonwealth turned to concierge Nick MacDonald for help moving their son out of his apartment near Boston University. "Nick made sure he was available on move out day and helped the family move out," says Susan Cotton, director of marketing for the hotel. "Guests tell Nick he is the reason their child chooses [Boston University] for college. They stay with us to visit the school and can't wait to come back for four more years and see Nick."
In a similarly heartwarming tale, a hotel concierge at The Georges in Lexington, Virginia, went out of his way to pick up a student who'd been involved in a car accident at the request of the student's worried parents.
Keeping Kids Happy
Happy kids mean happy parents, especially on vacation. Many hotel concierges work hard to give their youngest guests the royal treatment. "A small thing that always goes above and beyond is to focus on the children traveling with a family," Cotton says. "Focusing on a child and making sure they have a fun time makes the parents' lives much easier." The property hands out bags of dirt from nearby Fenway Park to kids who are fans of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, which she says always brings smiles.
[See: 17 Amazing Kid-Friendly Hotels.]
Organizing Birthday Parties
Concierges often get involved in planning parties – especially for birthdays. At the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City at Beverly Hills, chef concierge Andrew Pangle helped a guest plan a last-minute birthday party for his 16-year-old daughter complete with a pink Hummer limousine he had to source from a nearby county. "The role of a hotel concierge includes being a problem solver, an ambassador to the city, making the impossible possible and being the hotel's personal assistant," Pangle says.
Choosing a Brew
If you're trying to decide on a local beer during your trip, consider asking your hotel concierge. At the Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, there is a dedicated beer concierge who can offer suggestions about where and when to find Vermont's best brews. This concierge also hosts educational sessions and tastings, and he can even accompany guests to the actual breweries to provide his expertise on-site.
Finding the Best Surf Spot
When in Southern California, you must go surfing. The Kimpton Shorebreak Resort in Huntington Beach helps guests not only learn how to surf, but also how to find the best spot. The on-site surf concierges, several of whom grew up in the area, share their favorite surf breaks and offer advice about surf conditions, swell directions and techniques.
Jamming to Records
Music lovers should book a stay at the Kimpton Goodland in Goleta, California. Located about 10 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, this property not only offers a turntable in every room, but also a resident record concierge whose job is to help guests pick records from the hotel's VNYL shop to play in their rooms or buy and take home. The shop offers selections from the 1960s to 1990s, so there should be something for everyone.
Handling Every Other Outrageous Request
Robert Watson, chef concierge at The Willard InterContinental, says he once bought an antique Aston Martin DB5 luxury car and had it shipped to the United Arab Emirates for a guest. Another concierge at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia had the first and last names of a couple – who were celebrating their wedding anniversary – displayed on the Jumbotron during a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game they were attending. And at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in the Cayman Islands, the team once set up afternoon tea in the room of a guest who loved tea and biscuits and the British royal family.