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While you might expect to have concierge services at nearly every hotel you book around the world, the concept itself wasn’t standard in the US until 1974. After training at coveted hotels, including The Ritz London and The Lancaster in Paris—Thomas P. Wolfe, CHA decided to upgrade the traditional stateside staying experience. He began at The Fairmont San Francisco as an assistant manager until the owner gave him the opportunity to design their own concierge service, setting a standard that would spread throughout the nation. He jumped at the opportunity, and now you can thank him for those hard-to-get dinner reservations and those theater tickets you didn’t think were possible.

If you’re ever wondered how a concierge can heighten your experience when you’re on vacation or even traveling for business, Wolfe provides his white-gloved perspective:

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Concierge services are free…

…well, sort of. Since most hotels and resorts offering concierge service usually have a few stars under their belt, they understand the importance of customer service. Wolfe explains concierges traditionally have salaried positions where their mission is to find, secure and nurture many relationships with various restaurants, retailers and attractions throughout their city. Simply by booking your stay, you have already prepaid for their wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.

They can cater to your unique tastes and preferences

Though reading online reviews before deciding between a handful of hotels is a ritual most experienced travelers always follow, once you’re in a new city or country, give yourself permission to get offline for a while. (Ahem, it is vacation, after all.) While, sure, you know what sorts of cuisines you prefer and how you like to spend your travel days touring around a new city, Wolfe says a concierge will take care of the Googling for you or, better yet, open your eyes to new places and experiences you didn’t know existed. By simply stopping by their counter to discuss your hopes for your trip—from food joints you’ve read about to monuments you want to Snapchat—they can book reservations, suggest the best times to avoid crowds and much more. For higher-end, luxury resorts, you can even call ahead and they’ll get started before you ever print your boarding pass.

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They’ll make sure you don’t get sucked into tourist traps

Unless of course, you want to spend hours waiting at the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tour because you don’t have tickets ahead of time. A concierge will go the extra mile to ensure your stay is seamless, according to Wolfe, whether that means a discount on an upgraded experience, an early-morning tour to avoid the crowds, or the advice you need when you’re confused by a certain part of town. He also adds that their connections will go a long way to score you tickets to sought-after shows that you couldn’t get on your own.

They’ll fulfill your most peculiar requests

In addition to the traditional experiences you’re prone to exploring while on vacation, a concierge can also work their magic to fulfill special requests. Suppose you like to bring home a hand-printed or handcrafted coffee mug from every city you visit or you check out a firehouse or police station to see what the job is like in another country. Maybe you want a cobbler to repair an expensive pair of kicks that were damaged on your way to your destination. There’s nothing too obscure for a concierge, who will know the best place in the town, with the best reviews and offers that won’t rip you off or scam you. As Wolfe says, as long as it’s not illegal or unkind, it’s fair game to make your trip everything you dreamed of.

Tagged: Feature

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Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay is a lifestyle and travel writer, and content strategist. She is a passport stamp collector with an affinity for great wine, coffee and conversation. You can find a full collection of her work at
Lindsay Tigar


Freelance Travel and Lifestyle Journalist for @travelleisure, @voguemagazine, @usatoday, @bravotv @brides, @weddingwire and many more.
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