Each Concierge has their pulse on their cities. For the Mandarin Oriental this is so important that we have a Concierge Standard stating that “we give our guests superb recommendations based upon our first hand knowledge and meticulous research.” This requires us to explore our city, eat out, visits museums and take public transportation. Basically, just about anything a tourist would do.
Bye, bye Sri Lanka
Island of Jewels and Names
Island of Tea
Island of Trains
Island of Buddha Statues
Island of Elephants
Once upon a time, in a far distance, under a tree, there was a Sri Lankan elephant who decided to cross the road to continue his morning walk.
Island of Jewels
what’s in a name?
I am taking the train from Colombo to Ella
the world passes by
a boy with a kite
school children in white uniforms
a man working his fields
a lady with an umbrella
My friends and family often ask me what 5 star service means. I grew up in a small town, in a small country, with just a few luxury hotels. I always tell them that for the guests it means many things. For the Concierge it means many things too. We are well spoken, polite, gracious, smile and have a genuine interest and concern for your satisfaction and enjoyment of your stay. We are thoughtful and intuitive in our service and suggestions, with exceptional detailed knowledge of our cities and any local events.
During the Pan American Les Clefs d’Or Congress, Mr. Jeff Wielgopolan, Director of Executive Training at Forbes Travel Guide, shared his thoughts on what makes a five star Concierge. Mr. Wielgopolan is a graduate from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and has worked in many different areas of the industry. In 2005, he joined Forbes Travel Guide where he worked incognito as an inspector, before he became the Director of Executive Training.
The sun moved above the horizon, a small group of ibis poked around in the wet grass and green parrots chirped in the coconut palms overhead. Homeless worked furiously to snooze a few more minutes while Nikes tapped past their heads on early morning jogs. Cafes on Ocean Drive served the first customers of the day and a small group of tourists in Lummus Park studied the architecture in the warm morning light. Their intense curiosity about how so many buildings had been built during the depths of the Great Depression, when supposedly everyone in America was broke, required an explanation.
Tour Guides, like Concierges, have ongoing love affairs with their cities. In everyday events and every new thing they recognize the historic conditions that made it possible and the possibilities they imply for the future. And they love to connect the dots! The dots paint a picture of the soul of the city that is always complete but never completed. Like the Buddhist proverb that says a man never steps in the same river twice, one thing that is certain is that Miami is never static.
With year round sunshine, it is always a great time for ice cream in Miami. This is very different from the Netherlands, the country I grew up in. Ice cream stores are only open in the summer and close for the winter months.
I am extremely fond of ice cream. It especially reminds me of my childhood summers and walking to the local Italian ice cream shop around the corner. It was my first ever paying job when I was 16 year old. I was hired according to the owner, because I looked Italian enough even though I did not understand anything of what he or his Italian speaking family were saying. The great thing about working at an ice cream store was having ice cream every day! After that summer, I also ended up with some big muscles in my right arm from all the scooping I did.
Last month Miami Beach celebrated its 35th Art Deco Festival, hosted by the Miami Design Preservation League. Locals and visitors enjoyed walking tours, noir genre movies, live jazz music and the by now famous dog parade along Ocean Drive. At the center of all the festivities was of course the Art Deco district. Together with our magnificent coastline, it has given Miami Beach its quintessential look, often featured on postcards, as a colorful backdrop in movies and in a myriad of fashion photography shoots.
When visiting the district, I always tell our guests to start at the Art Deco Welcome Center on 10th street and Ocean Drive. The Art Deco Welcome Center is the home of the Miami Design Preservation League. Without its founders, Barbara Capitman and Leonard Horowitz, the district would not exist in its current form.
Art, design, five star service, it is all about the details. I have always cared about the details. This explains why I now work for the Mandarin Oriental and wear my Clefs d’Or keys with great pride. I realize, however much I care for details, I will never have the eye of my husband, a professional photographer. Usually when we go out, he sees ten things, while I might only notice five. It is a bit frustrating, to be honest. I feel that I am missing out. Luckily, there are always his photographs to look at. So this is what caught his eye while visiting Design Miami, one of my other favorite fairs during Art Basel.