Carrying bags, organising transport and ensuring things run smoothly, it’s all in a day’s work as a concierge. Reporter SOPHIE BROWNSON tries it out at Newport’s Celtic Manor Resort.
FAMED for its luxury experience, renowned events and celebrity guests, I had high expectations when I arrived at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, to work as a concierge for a day.
Finding the concierge desk to explain I was taking on the role, I was told I would be learning first-hand how they assist guests.
Senior concierge Jonathan Burt led me along ‘secret’ passageways to a staff uniform room where I was suited and booted for the job.
Returning to the desk wearing the official uniform of a pink and blue striped shirt and a black blazer, I was ready to find out what being a concierge was all about.
Described in the dictionary as being ‘a staff member of a hotel or apartment complex who assists guests or residents, by handling the storage of luggage, taking and delivering messages and making reservations for tours’, I was prepared for some hard work.
Mr Burt eased me in to the job by chatting to me about what the role required and telling me how it is widely underestimated in terms of the actual amount of work the job entails.
“We are responsible for getting bags up to guests’ rooms within 20 minutes of checking in,” he said.
“We are also responsible for parking the cars but that is not as much of an issue with time constraints as we can leave them parked outside for a couple of minutes.
“Luggage is the main issue.”
Going over the key responsibilities I learnt that a typical day shift is from 10am to 6pm, with guests checking out by midday and guests checking in around 4pm.
During the day I was responsible for arranging transportation of guests to their cars and various locations around the resort including the main hotel, lodges and golf course.
Alongside this I had to ensure that guests’ cars were in the care of the valet service and keys were properly stored as well as ensuring bags were delivered to the right rooms and were stored safely during the checking in and out period.
Starting off with the main desk-based roles, Mr Burt explained that on a quiet day much of it is spent on the phone and radio organising transport for various guests.
Answering the phone I listened to where the guest was and where they wanted to be. On hanging up the phone I then had to operate the radio system and contact one of the drivers to arrange a pick up and drop off.
After a tense moment with the radio, I managed to arrange it with the driver and move on to the next task – the bag drop.
As two guests approached to drop off their bags, I picked up a luggage label and, following Mr Burt’s careful instructions, I filled it out with the details of the guests before attaching it to the relevant case.
I then took it into the back room where it was placed on shelves using an alphabetical system according to surname.
Counting one of my biggest physical achievements as lifting the 4kg weights at the gym, I wasn’t anticipating the sheer weight (and amount) of luggage that guests could bring as we moved on to my next task – carrying and loading the special luggage trolleys.
Loading them on to high-shine luggage trolleys I entered a special lift which takes both luggage and undercover celebrities upstairs.
Entering the lift, I asked how Mr Burt got into the profession.
“I have been here for around eight years now,” he said.
“I started working in one of the restaurants, The Olive Tree, when I was at college and then at a conference and business centre.
“I then went to a job fair and learned that they were taking on a few people for the concierge position.
“I was the only person who got employed and I have been doing it ever since.”
While I was working I became aware that I was the only woman and asked how many female members of staff there were in the department.
“We have eight porters, four doormen, two valets, three managers, and 12 drivers,” Mr Burt continued
But he said there are currently no female members of staff in the concierge department. But he put this down to circumstances and the physical demands of the job.
Once upstairs, I wheeled the trolley along the corridors and distributed luggage according to room.
Wheeling the cases along the vast corridors, I learnt that the luggage drop can take several hours depending on the sheer amount of cases that arrive within any one time. So various systems can be in place, such as distributing on a floor-by-floor basis, to speed up the process.
Back downstairs I started to polish the luggage trolley after its outing, stopping halfway through the task while Mr Burt showed me how the car key system works.
After the cars are parked, keys are carefully tagged and stored in a high-security safe and, like the luggage system, guests are given a corresponding tag for collection.
Finishing my day’s work I ask Mr Burt about the perks of the job, who said meeting celebrities keeps things interesting.
“The latest one to have stayed at the Manor was Snoop Dog just four days ago,” he said.
“I had to take his bags up and he needed a charger for his Apple Mac as he only had an American one, so I had to find him one.”
Despite the hard work, I decided that the glamorous setting and friendly staff could keep anyone motivated.