Concierges are kind of like professional whale watchers; they make reservations for the big wigs, and to thoroughly spoil their guests, they have to have thumbs on the pulse of the most extravagant, most lavish experiences available in their cities.
Who better than to talk whale watching than Gregory Carey, the concierge at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel Denver in the center of downtown's theater district on 14th Street. Carey has worked at the Four Seasons for seven years, both as a server and a concierge. He has a level two sommelier license, and in his free time he teaches tango lessons. Eater asked him about crazy guest requests, his best experience as a concierge, and where his guests like to dine and party.
Is there a request that you haven't been able to accommodate for a guest? We honestly have not had a request that I could not accommodate yet. Some of them have included insane amount of legwork, but it gets done. We've had a guest who needed all the furniture moved out of his room, specific colors of European makes of rental cars (of which there was only one in Denver), certain types of clothing racks and mannequins in the guest room, full length mirrors, butler service, and specific menus.... it's not uncommon for us to get very specific requests within a very short time period!
The Four Seasons offers its guests some serious in-house amenities. Which ones stand out and are most popular?Yes, there are many from 24-hour room service to our AAA 4-diamond steakhouse, EDGE, and our spa sanctuary. One of our favorite guest attractions is our third floor outdoor rooftop pool and jacuzzi. It is lush in the summertime, a sort of oasis in the middle of the city. Guests enjoy cocktails or lunch by the pool. The pool is heated year-round, so some guests even swim in the winter time. Another popular one is the Cadillac Escalade, courtesy of Rickenbaugh Cadillac, that offers complimentary transportation for guests within the downtown area.
Other than EDGE, where in town do you most often make dinner reservations for your guests?Larimer Square is the hub for fine dining in downtown Denver. No other block has a higher concentration of good food than Larimer, between 14th and 15th streets. We often send our guests to dine at Ocean Prime, Rioja, Vesta Dipping Grill, and Capital Grille.
What are the most expensive reservations you've made for your guests? We frequently assist guests with setting up large dinners for groups of 10 or more. These dinners can range from $2,000 all the way up to $30,000-plus, depending upon the guests' needs. Entertainment venues can cover quite the range as well. Sometimes I can get tickets for as little as $200, and other times, for playoff games for example, they will range upwards of $3,000 per ticket.
What is the most outlandish request you've ever accommodated for a guest? I recently had a guest that had a last-minute emergency change of plans, and arranged for a private airplane to fly him and his family from Denver to Alaska. The request was extremely urgent, and I was able to have the guest in the plane at the airport within one hour of his phone call to me. Another outlandish request I had was while working for the Four Seasons Jackson Hole property. A team of Saudi Arabian royalty came to stay at the Resort. They keep Saudi Arabian time (never modifying time zones) and were typically awake when everyone else is asleep. I ensured that the main stores in the resort town of Jackson Hole were opened at 2:30 a.m. for the royal princes to shop. Of the 19 stores that were opened, 16 were shopped in, and the empty plane they brought with them was filled [on the way home] with their souvenirs from their shopping adventures.
What has been your most positive experience working as a concierge? My last day of work at Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole was my most memorable moment so far in working for this company. There were 4 couples who came in, and found out it was my last night. These couples asked for the best 8-course meal we could make and made a reservation for a party of nine. They came in, and were my last table in the restaurant. They told me the 9th spot was for me, and invited me to be their guest for dinner. We were there from 10 pm until almost 3:30 a.m. and it was amazing that I got to partake in the whole thing. Talk about outlandish.... that bill was about $24,000. It was an incredible experience. It really touched me that these locals weren't clearly coming in for the food; they wanted to have a send off for me. As a concierge, I've built some really great relationships. I've had at least three of our guests now who call my personal cell phone before they arrive to see if I will be working, because they want to see me when they are here. Sometimes, I switch shifts just to see and assist these guests. I get a lot of satisfaction when people are happy with a recommendation I have made.
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Gregory Carey [Photo: Courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel]
— Article by Emily Hutto