From getting a shoe store opened at 6:30 am to flying down desserts from Goa, this concierge ensures his guests leave Bangalore wearing a big smile
Srikishen Raghunath (27) Chief Concierge, Ritz Carlton Hotel and Vice President of Concierge Association Of India
In 2009, an Australian staying at the Oberoi Hotel on MG Road made an unusual request to the concierge — he wanted an 80 metre satin rope. “He wanted it in a particular colour, thickness and size,” recalls Srikishen Raghunath, vice president of Concierge Association of India, who worked with the Oberoi then.
After a hectic day’s search, the befuddled concierge team managed to fetch the rope from a small town in Tamil Nadu and delivered it to their guest. It cost a whopping Rs 1.15 lakh. An intrigued Raghunath had to ask the Aussie why. “My father-in-law races camels in Dubai and needs the rope to use it as a leash. I looked around Delhi and Mumbai. Bangalore was my last option,” he told the bemused staff.
Requests such as these are not unusual for concierges, a chatty Raghunath tells us. He heads a team of six and was instrumental in promoting the importance of the desk among Bangalore hotels.
In the fourth week of August, the Concierge Association of India, Southern Region, will host over 120 concierges from 50 luxury five-star hotels across India for the 8th Annual Les Clefs d’or India general meeting in Bangalore for the first time. Industry experts peg this event as a platform to project Bangalore as a global tourist destination, not just a business district.
Today, the association has 21 luxury hotels and 40 dedicated members from Bangalore. “A steady rise considering we started with only three members,” remarks Raghunath.
He shares memorable requests that highlight the importance of the concierge desk.
At 12.30 am, Raghunath was woken up by a call from his hotel staff. A female guest who had flown in from Singapore frantically demanded to speak with the concierge. She had realised that she left behind one of two bags while leaving Singapore. “Her biggest worry was that the shoes she was supposed to wear for an 8 am meeting with corporate executives in Electronic City were in that bag. She wanted our help to buy a pair. ” Raghunath got the store manager at Jimmy Choo in UB City to open the store at 6.30 am, and had a pair delivered to the lady. “Gone are the days when people went to a concierge to ask for directions or book a cab. These days, we get all sorts of requests and it’s embarrassing if we can’t pull it off,” he admits.
A tart surprise
A French couple was having a friendly chat at the breakfast table with the concierge. It was their second visit to India. On their first, two years ago, they had travelled to Goa, and the lady raved about the yummy mango tart she had savoured at Britto’s there. The resourceful concierge decided to surprise her and found out about the next flight from Goa to Bangalore. “I got in touch with the station officer of that airline and requested him to have a parcel picked up at Goa airport and deliver it to someone from the hotel, who would pick it up in Bangalore,” he recalls. A concierge from a different Goa hotel picked up the mango tarts from Britto’s. The tart arrived just in time for dinner and was served for dessert, much to the couple’s delight.
A pregnant British lady of Indian origin was staying at a star hotel with her four-year-old son. “She seemed unhappy and irritable about a lot of things in the hotel,” Raghunath recalls. At 9 am, she made a request for a list of stores where she could buy a Krishna idol. “She wanted it by 3 pm.” It was the hotel’s only chance to make their guest feel good. They asked local emporiums to bring their best Krishna artefacts to the hotel, and set up a mini exhibition on the fifth floor, next to her room. “She was pregnant and we didn’t want her to go through the trouble of hopping stores.” The delighted lady picked up an idol worth Rs 2 lakh and entrusted the concierge to ship it to the UK.
Little wonder Raghunath likens the concierge to a magician. “We make things happen. No matter how impossible.” A letter or an email of thanks by a guest brings value and content to their job. He adds that despite intense competition, concierges across hotel brands work together. Just as well — without that, the mango tart would have never happened.
The hotel"s magician