Hos­pi­tal­ity

Mem­ory Mak­ers

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY KITT WALSH

The concierges of three of the area’s most beau­ti­ful re­sorts share some­thing in com­mon— they all have the spe­cial skills re­quired to help make each guest’s stay mem­o­rable. Concierge Su­san War­ren of the Westin Cape Co­ral Re­sort at Ma­rina Vil­lage agrees. “Be­ing a people per­son is vi­tal, and let­ting the guest speak to get an over­all idea of what type of ex­pe­ri­ence they want is the idea,” she says. “We want to live up to their ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Front Desk Di­rec­tor An­tho­nia Smith, who over­sees the

concierges of Captiva’s South Seas Is­land Re­sort, adds an­other in­gre­di­ent to the mix of a suc­cess­ful concierge. “Pa­tience is a virtue you need to have,” he says.

Di­rec­tor of Op­er­a­tions Amy Speck­man of Sani­bel’s Casa Ybel Re­sort was once a concierge her­self and says, “Ask­ing the right ques­tions of guests helps es­ti­mate their wants and needs and is very im­por­tant.”

But once the concierges have sussed out what type of ex­pe­ri­ences the guests might en­joy, how do they help choose the at­trac­tion or restau­rant from among the bounty found in South­west Florida?

At South Seas Is­land Re­sort, on- site restaurants and ac­tiv­i­ties like fish­ing and wa­ter sports are rec­om­mended first. Then a bin­der of in­for­ma­tion about off- site venues, kept cur­rent by concierges and the guest- ser­vices rep­re­sen­ta­tives, is con­sulted. The guests them­selves of­ten share opin­ions af­ter they re­turn from hav­ing ex­plored the area on their own, and this, too, gets added to the store of knowl­edge.

War­ren of­ten vis­its on­line re­view sites like Yelp and TripAd­vi­sor and tracks cal­en­dars and events from lo­cal venues to com­pile a weekly news­let­ter ( avail­able upon check- in and at the concierge desk) about what’s go­ing on in the area. Speck­man goes one bet­ter, or­ga­niz­ing field trips and “ride- arounds” for Casa Ybel’s concierges, so they can ex­pe­ri­ence first­hand the restaurants and at­trac­tions they rec­om­mend to their guests.

All the re­sorts make use of net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with lo­cal businesses, share in­for­ma­tion in- house that they re­ceive from area at­trac­tions and restaurants and so­licit menus, prices and in­for­ma­tion sheets from places they ei­ther haven’t yet vis­ited them­selves or need to up­date in their files. Many places of­fer dis­counts for ho­tel guests that the concierges are happy to pass along.

Noth­ing beats the per­sonal touch, how­ever, and the trio fre­quents nearby hot spots on their days off, too. All have lived in the area for enough years to be con­sid­ered “lo­cals,” and their love of South­west Florida shines through when they

ALL HAVE LIVED IN THE AREA FOR ENOUGH YEARS TO BE CON­SID­ERED “LO­CALS,” AND THEIR LOVE OF SOUTH­WEST FLORIDA SHINES THROUGH WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT THEIR JOBS.

ALL EN­JOY SHAR­ING THEIR PAR­ADISE WITH GUESTS, ES­PE­CIALLY WHEN CALLED UPON TO GO A BIT “ABOVE AND BE­YOND” THEIR NOR­MAL DU­TIES.

talk about their jobs. “I know how lucky I am to work and live here, ev­ery time I look out my win­dow and see my beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings,” says Speck­man.

All en­joy shar­ing their par­adise with guests, es­pe­cially when called upon to go a bit “above and be­yond” their nor­mal

du­ties. “We got to ar­range a pri­vate din­ner out on the beach for a gen­tle­man and his wife cel­e­brat­ing their 25- year wed­ding an­niver­sary,” says South Seas’ Smith. “Our chef pre­pared a spe­cial surf and turf menu and paired a wine with each course. While they were din­ing on the beach, we cov­ered the bed in rose petals in the shape of a heart and left a bot­tle of cham­pagne for them. They next day the cou­ple came to the desk, thanked the concierge and gave her a hug.”

The Westin’s War­ren is cur­rently help­ing a young man be­gin his own jour­ney on a path to what he hopes is a quar­ter century and more of mar­i­tal bliss. “I know he is go­ing to pop the ques­tion to his girl­friend be­fore she does,” War­ren says. “Be­sides a room up­grade, the scented can­dles and roses­trewn bed, I even got pho­tos of their time to­gether, selected a few beau­ti­ful shots of them as a cou­ple, printed them out and will have them framed by their bed­side.”

Smith speaks for all the concierges and those who over­see their work when he says, “These are the types of spe­cial mo­ments I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber.” Their guests will, too, thanks to the spe­cial blend of car­ing, in­stinct and sen­si­tiv­ity shown by the trio of concierges at some of the area’s most won­der­ful des­ti­na­tions.

An­tho­nia Smith South Seas Is­land Re­sort

Westin Cape Co­ral Re­sort at Ma­rina Vil­lage Su­san War­ren

Casa Ybel Re­sort

Amy Speck­man

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