Compiled by Allie Schratz
Luxury Outback Tours
Company: The Tailor
Location: Northern Territory, Australia
Why They Were Chosen: The Tailor (formerly Outback Encounters) offers tours all over Australia, but within the hot, red-dirt laden centre region, this company has achieved the seemingly impossible: handcrafting luxurious, personalised toursof Australia’s special Outback. “One of the most important factors and most intangible parts [of our business] is using owner-hosted properties where locals are your hosts and guides,” said The Tailor’s Managing Director Drew Kluska. “Owners always give more of themselves and do everything to make the client happy plus they have better access to money can’t buy experiences.” Helicopter above Simpson’s Gap, enjoy a sunset over Uluru, experience a home stay at a real outback station – the possibilities are endless, and completely up to you. “We are experts at combining luxury and adventure in the correct proportions so the client has an incredible time,” said Mr Kluska.
#1 Tourist Tip: “Visitors must visit a working Outback Station (ranch) but if possible be looked after by the owners – Angorichina Station is a perfect example.”
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Why He Became a Concierge: “I decided first to pursue a career in hotels very early on my career. I loved the idea of working in an environment where you get to meet people from all over the world and one that [would] also provide an opportunity to travel. In fact, Melbourne is the third city in the world in which I have worked in hotels and as a concierge. I joined InterContinental Hotels and Resorts because they are known for their experience in concierge services.
“There is no greater satisfaction professionally than to make the impossible happen or to recommend something for a guest and have them return and rave about how much fun they had and what a difference you made to their time in Melbourne. The fact that no two days are ever the same and the ability to make someone's experience special is exactly why I became a concierge. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.”
#1 Tourist Tip: “My number one tip for a traveller to Melbourne is to stay in a hotel that offers Les Clefs d'Or concierge services. A professional concierge will take time to get to know you, ask some probing questions and find out what you really are looking for. They will then give you personalised advice on how to have an authentic experience. Melbourne is full of so many great hidden bars, restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops; not to mention the amazing sporting culture, history, laneways and arcades. A great concierge will find you the perfect place, perhaps one that you never even knew that existed. They can often get you a table in a booked out restaurant, past line ups or even get you VIP sporting or theatre tickets.”
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Why He Became a Concierge: “Arriving in Queenstown from England with a construction and customer service background, I started working at a local Backpackers and enjoyed the fact that so many people returned to thank me for my help. Bitten by the bug, I went on to work as a concierge in a local hotel and discovered the world of Les Clef d’Or (Golden Keys) - a worldwide society of concierges demanding excellence of the highest order. I immediately knew that the ‘golden keys’ lapel was what I wanted to work towards, an accomplishment I achieved last year (December 2011).”
#1 Tourist Tip: “The Shotover Canyon Swing is one of the first adrenalin activities I experienced in Queenstown – it’s the world’s highest cliff jump and I’ll never forget the feeling of extreme exhilaration on the way down! And for stunning panoramic views you can’t go past a helicopter or plane flight over Milford Sound. Milford Sound is unofficially described as the eighth wonder of the world and to see it by air allows you to take in its full majesty. A perfect day’s sightseeing would have to be completed by a sumptuous meal at The Rees Hotel’s award-winning True South Dining Room.”
Hotel: Pan Pacific Perth
Location: Perth,Western Australia
Why He Became a Concierge: “I can remember first noticing the Concierge of the Sheraton Perth Hotel (now the Pan Pacific) when I commenced at the property as a work experience student in 1992: an immaculately dressed man, proudly wearing his Clefs d'Ors (the symbol of membership to the international Society of Hotel Concierge) deftly directing front of house operations and assisting customers in a very knowledgeable and professional manner. I knew immediately that I wanted to pursue this as a career; and progressively climbed through the ranks from Porter to Bell Captain and, finally, I became Concierge in 2007. It's been a wonderful journey. What I enjoy the most is the challenge: no day is the same and our guests find new issues for us to solve each day!”
#1 Tourist Tip: “My favourite is the Swan Valley. It's located about 30 minutes east of Perth, so it's reasonably close. And has something for everyone – whether they are WA residents or interstate/international visitors: the winery experience, the breweries, the local produce or the wildlife parks. The Valley is continually expanding its appeal through the staging of events attracting more international artists as it becomes a premium location for outdoor concerts at the wineries. And you will always be tempted to purchase a bottle or 6!”
Location: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Why He Became a Concierge: “I initially decided I wanted to be a porter in hotel and at first had no ambition to achieve anything more than that. However, once I became familiar with the role of concierge, I knew it was what I wanted to be.
I first saw an article in the Les Clefs d’Or in the newspaper, in which my general manager at the time assisted me in researching the organisation. With time, focus and a lot of work, I was fortunate enough to eventually be awarded my own set of golden keys.rrThe secret to work is to find something you’re good at and something you enjoy.”
#1 Tourist Tip: “I have experienced a lot of what this beautiful city has to offer. When guests ask me the question of what to do in Adelaide, I try and tailor the answer to their needs.
“I once did a guided tour of the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery. All the guides were aboriginal and the thing that stood out for me was how proud all the guides were of their culture and heritage, which I still remember to this day.”
Hotel: Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Why He Became a Concierge: “Although I didn't know it when I first started working in hotels, the profession of Concierge is undoubtedly the most challenging but also the most rewarding in the hospitality industry. I came from a food and beverage background where the onus was on the quality of the product and the speed of its delivery. Unless you were a chef involved in the artistic process there really wasn't much scope for personal creativity. As a Concierge I can plan and develop unique itineraries for guests that showcase the very best that Sydney has to offer. By drawing on my own personal experiences and catering to some of the specific needs of my guests I can deliver a truly memorable experience for them and that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I also enjoy the challenge of solving problems and getting a result. Most Concierges who start in the profession probably don't realise the diverse nature of the job and how much of an impact you can have on a visitor’s stay, but once you realise the potential of the role it is something that really hooks you in.”
#1 Tourist Tip: “Often you can derive the greatest of pleasures from the simplest of means. I usually try to refer guests to activities or experiences that are ‘typically Sydney’ although they are generally not included in guide books and may incur very little expense. One option we recommend is a self-guided tour of the former working class suburb of Balmain. Although Paddington and Surry Hills are better known to visitors I think Balmain has a wonderful mix of heritage buildings, parklands, boutiques and restaurants. We can provide guests with a detailed map and visitors’ notes so that they can make the most of their visit and it all starts with a short ferry trip from Circular Quay. There are a number of top quality restaurants and historic pubs in the suburb and also the markets on Saturday. Many travellers these days are looking for authentic experiences where they can engage freely with the locals and I think a visit to the charming suburb of Balmain is a perfect opportunity to do just that.”
Hotel: The Chatham Auckland
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Why He Became a Concierge: “I decided to pursue this exciting career as a Concierge because the sky is the limit and every day is different. Every time I give information to my hotel guests, I go on a journey with them. Whether you recommend a restaurant or directions around my beautiful country, [it’s] like you are going on holiday with them!”
#1 Tourist Tip: “[First], always look for a Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand Hotel Concierge Golden Keys member for professional concierge service within your hotels.
“My favourite place in Auckland would be on one of the many Islands in the Hauraki Gulf. Catch a ferry from downtown Auckland and activities range from hiking on Rangitoto Island or just relaxing on a beach or wine tasting on Waiheke Island. Enjoy my beautiful back yard!”
Hotel: The Bolton Hotel
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Why He Became a Concierge: “I started my career at the Front Desk as Guest Service Agent in a five star hotel in Germany eight years ago after finishing a traditional European hotel traineeship and gaining a Diploma in Hotel Operations. My desk was right opposite the Concierge Desk. When watching the Concierge it seemed as if he was a magician. He made incredible things happen. It seemed as if he knew all, seen all and could do all. One day a position as Assistant Concierge became available and I knew that this is my chance. Ever since, I have held positions as Concierge at the Crowne Plaza Heidelberg/Germany, The Intercontinental Wellington/New Zealand, [and now] my current position as Head Concierge at the Bolton Hotel Wellington.”
#1 Tourist Tip: “Wellington has many extraordinary attractions, from Seal Coast Safaris to Inter-island ferry sailings over to Food Tours on funky Cuba Street. I arrange personalised in-house Bolton tours that encompass these Wellington attractions, and these can be made to suit each guest.
“The number one attraction tourists always ask for and also my personal tip is a visit of the Museum of New Zealand ‘Te Papa’. It offers something for young and old. The museum combines leading edge, interactive technology with stunning world class displays. You can come face to face with a colossal squid through computer interactives and 3D animation. Also you can take a hike through the Bush in Bush City which is an outside area that recreates sections of the New Zealand landscape. Te Papa offers long term exhibitions as well as frequently changing short term exhibitions. It is the perfect place to experience the whole of New Zealand in one building.”
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Why He Became a Concierge: “It was a question of Concierge finding me. I'd never dreamed about such a job I loved the idea of making the impossible possible.”
#1 Tourist Tip: “My biggest tip for any traveler is to seek out the Concierge.Seek out the Concierge (look for those Golden Keys) [and] ask for his/her favourite things to do. Here on the coast it would be a swim at the beach (between the flags) followed by a light breakfast in one of the many cafes, [then on] to Mount Tamborine for one of the magnificent rain forest walks and lunch at [the] Mount Tamborine micro brewery, washed down with the local beer.”
Hotel: The Islington Hotel
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Why She Became a Concierge: “My background in private clubs sparked a passion for making things happen. My favourite part of the job was to ease the discerning patron towards an enjoyable experience they didn’t know they wanted, and do it seamlessly. A move to The Islington Hotel gave me the opportunity to direct the guest’s complete experience and being a boutique hotel, the relationship between guest and concierge is a very close one.”
#1 Tourist Tip: “The obvious choice for everyone’s first visit to Hobart is MONA, but to be honest I assume everyone is going already. I like to direct guests towards the ‘locals only’ type of Hobart experience. A dozen of my favourite Bruny Island oysters, shucked to order on the waterfront, and washed down with a bottle of award-winning Tasmanian sparkling wine whilst watching the tall ships on the Derwent says ‘welcome to Hobart’ to me.”