Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2008 issue.

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Generally, the first person a guest sees upon arriving at a hotel is the concierge, seated at his desk ready to offer recommendations about the destination’s attractions. The position of concierge originated in the castles of France almost a thousand years ago, where they were  responsible for the keys, as well as meeting the needs of the owners and their royal guests. The etymological root of the word “concierge” is the Latin word “conserves,” or slave. 

The Concierge in Action

Over time, the duties of the concierge evolved to also include promoting the culture and attractions of the tourist destination. A concierge can help you plan everything from a surprise marriage proposal — complete with hundreds of balloons — to satisfying your craving for a particular ice cream, arranging to have it delivered to your room at a certain time every day.

Handling confusion is often the order of the day, as when the concierge is asked to make a reservation at Café de Ortíz when they really meant Café des Artistes. A good concierge will move heaven and earth to please guests, regardless of how peculiar the request. For example, one concierge had to ask the manager of a restaurant for permission to photocopy one of its paintings for a client. This is an extreme example, but true. 

Forming an Association for Better Service

Concierge associations have existed in Paris for the past 80 years, designed to provide a forum for exchanging ideas on ways to improve their service. Currently, the Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hotels Clefs d’Or has more than 3,000 members in 37 countries.

In Mexico, there are five concierge associations, including the Asociación de Concierges de México Región Pácifico A.C., established in 1998, which consists of 26 concierges working in hotels located between Punta de Mita and Costa Careyes. This association offers continuing training programs exclusively for its members. They also work to support the local community through fundraising events to benefit local charities as well as to support the association’s projects. For more information, email Regional Director Josefa González at info@conciergesregionpacifico.com

The Concierge Evolves

In today’s highly competitive market, the quality of service makes the difference between success and failure. Because of this, a growing number of real estate projects have begun to offer concierge services as part of the amenities offered in their new developments. It is no longer sufficient to provide an infinity pool, expansive gardens and spectacular views of the sea.

To meet these demands, Mexico Boutique Hotels recently began offering concierge services. Rocio Martínez Quintal adeptly satisfies the needs of all guests who make Internet or telephone reservations for any of the 47 hotels belonging to this unique collection. The service includes an overview of the trip, with information the guest will need about his vacation destination, including suggestions for services and tourist attractions. 

Thus, today’s concierge is no longer confined to a desk inside a hotel, a change that the international association will need to take into account as it modifies its norms.