InterContinental Hotel’s Best of the Best!

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Announcing Chef Concierge, Bobbi Chiodo, has been awarded North America’s Concierge of The Year 2013 by InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Each year only one person in North America is given this special designation.   Please congratulate her on a well deserved accolade.

A well deserved award.  She get to fly to Las Vegas to accept the award and lunch with other IHG winners in other areas.  KUDOS to one of Chicago’s Best!

Alfredo Caliva – Chef Concierge – Doubletree by Hilton Chicago Magnificant Mile

 

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Four Seasons Resort Maui Emphasizes Expert Concierge Services

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Nowadays, concierge services seem to be popping up everywhere – from car rental companies to hospitals to banks – all promising value added service.

Within the hospitality industry, there is a growing trend to outsource this service. One luxury resort, Four Seasons Resort Maui, has bucked this industry trend by continuing to place major emphasis on its in-house concierge services.

Recently arrived General Manager Jean Claude Wietzel believes the concierge program is at the heart of a luxury resort operation. “For the well-traveled guest, our concierge service is priceless and indispensable. Our staff are truly experts who go the extra mile. Most are either long-time Maui residents or are originally from Maui.”

Spend a day with Sam Wilhelm, chef concierge, and his staff of 22 highly-trained professionals at Four Seasons Resort Maui to get a firsthand look at the service that is provided at this five-star luxury resort every day. “It is all about creating personalized and customized itineraries for guests and providing a level of service that far exceeds expectations,” says Wilhelm, a Hana, Maui-born hospitality expert who grew up learning the fine points of service from his parents, both longtime Maui hotel employees.

Wilhelm holds the coveted Gold Key from Les Clefs d’Or, the internationally recognized symbol of superior hospitality and quality service. Three others on his team have also earned this prestigious status. Together, the four represent the only Gold Key holders on the island of Maui. Wilhelm manages and directs the largest concierge department in the company which consists of 91 hotels and resorts in 38 countries.

“Taking care of our resort guests is critical, says Wilhelm, who after a quick second, adds “showing guests the real Maui, the one in which I grew up, is equally important because guests can take home lifetime memories of their experiences and the Aloha spirit.”

In addition to knowing the island inside-out, Wilhelm’s team can secure those hard-to-get reservations and best tables at restaurants based on the relationships they’ve developed. “We spend a great deal of time getting to know and learning about the services our preferred vendors offer. And we constantly evaluate the feedback from our guests,” he says.

Wietzel and Wilhelm stress the fact that the concierge team only works with the best activity partners on the island, those who are uniquely qualified to provide a high service experience. “We look at it this way,” says Wietzel: “When we send off our guests to experience an activity or tour, we expect our partners and their respective teams to become an extension of Four Seasons. Our bar is set extremely high and we expect the same from them. We have a lengthy list of requirements our partners need to meet.”

Wilhelm adds “We also have each concierge team member participate in at least eight activities per year, and then report back to the entire team, to ensure the experiences are up to our standards. We’re not here to sell our guests excursions. We are here to deliver the best vacation experience possible.”

Guests can contact any of the 22 concierges prior to arrival or on the spot. Their photographs and short bios are on the resort’s website. Just a look through this section and it becomes clear these professionals can save guests research time by personalizing itineraries, selecting the best and most appropriate activity partners, and using their clout to pull off seemingly impossible requests.

Visit website: Four Seasons Resort Maui
From Luxury Travel Magazine

What’s On My Desk: Les Clefs d’Or USA Past President Jeanne Mills

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Ever wonder what the most powerful leaders, business execs and celebrities keep on their desks? Well, we’re about to tell you. Our biweekly “What’s on My Desk” feature will take a look inside the offices and at the desks of the world’s most influential power players.

This week we’ve featured Jeanne Mills, the President of Les Clefs d’Or USA, an organization of professional hotel concierges. As President, Mills provides leadership to more than 650 Les Clefs d’Or USA members, distinguished by the crossed golden keys worn on their uniform lapels. She also happens to be the Chef Concierge at the storied Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Here is a look at the items on Jeanne’s desk.

1. My coveted International Les Clefs d’Or directory which lists the contact information of 3,500 of my closest friends, who do everything in their power to make the impossible happen for my guests all around the world.

2. My golden crossed keys, designed by famous Swiss jeweler Bucherer. These international symbols of service excellence are proudly worn on my uniform lapels every day.

3. Maps- In particular the Rodeo Drive map as the iconic Beverly Wilshire sits prominently at the corner of one of the world’s most famed shopping cross streets of Rodeo Drive and WIlshire Blvd.

4. Flowers- On any given day there are numerous floral and custom gift amenity orders awaiting special delivery to our guests

5. Bowties, collar stays and cuff links are always on hand especially during the peak of award season in LA for guests that might need that last minute item they forgot to pack

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Ritz-Carlton concierge extraordinaire

Reserving an entire movie theater so Prince could enjoy a film? No problem.

Transforming a ballroom into a basketball court so the New York Knicks could get in a little practice? Easy. (Use masking tape to simulate floor markings.)
Arranging for an airplane to fly overhead with a “Will you marry me?” banner? Consider it done.

To those among us who have trouble just making it out of the house in the morning with both wallet and keys, Jon Winke would be considered a miracle worker.

Mr. Winke, who was born and died in blue-collar Berwyn, rose to become the chief concierge at Chicago’s Ritz-Carlton, revered by other concierges, and loved by many who say he gave them their start in the hospitality industry.

In fact, the Michigan Avenue hotel is receiving sympathy messages and flower arrangements from seasoned travelers across the nation who say they will miss Mr. Winke. One wrote on legacy.com: “He is truly one of the reasons I only stay at The Ritz when I am in Chicago.”
“Celebrities, entertainers, movie stars and heads of state asked for John,” said Tom Segesta, the hotel’s general manager.

Mr. Winke died of a heart attack June 30 as his wife of 35 years, Raquel, drove him to Vanguard MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where he was born 58 years ago.

With his teddy-bear build and moustache, “The Wink” looked like he was ready to sit alongside Bears “superfan” Bob Swerski and exalt Coach Ditka.

But a closer look at Mr. Winke’s work uniform revealed the crossed gold keys on his collar, a symbol of Les Clefs d’Or (French for “keys of gold,) a global organization of concierges.

He was kind, funny and unflappable. No one can remember him losing his cool during his 37-year career at the Ritz, Segesta said. “The miracles he would perform came so naturally to him.”

“He was the kind of guy that other concierges would reach out to, if they needed advice and assistance,” said Brent Barker, a former concierge at The Drake and other hotels.

For Mr. Winke, snaring last-minute theater tickets and seats at hot restaurants was just another day at the office. “When people give me an impossible request, it might take a few minutes. If they need a miracle, it might take a little longer,” he said upon his 2011 induction into the Chicago Concierge Hall of Fame.

He ticked off some of those everyday feats when he was interviewed by ConciergePreferred.com. A guest from Iowa mailed him his leather jacket, asking if Mr. Winke could get it fixed. While on vacation in Mexico, he helped a guest sell his Bears playoff tickets.

Once, he told the Sun-Times, he rallied Ritz staffers to go to the McClurg Court theater and buy 100 tickets for the Michael Douglas-Demi Moore film, “Disclosure.” A Saudi prince wanted to see the movie, but didn’t want anyone sitting within three rows of him, Mr. Winke explained.

When a mother of the bride lost her contact lenses before her daughter’s wedding, he tracked down her California optician and handed her new lenses within hours of the ceremony. He got Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder front-row tickets for the Bulls, and arranged a night on the town for Mick Jagger.

He even brought a rocking chair from his home so a guest could soothe her baby to sleep.

“He was a hero to tens of thousands of visitors to your city—probably hundreds of thousands,” said Tommy Dean, the concierge at the Four Seasons hotel in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Winke also dealt with more prosaic problems. At least 50 times a day, guests asked him for directions. And he learned to listen closely to non-Chicago accents. Often, visitors seemed to be saying they wanted opera tickets and their “massages.” On closer scrutiny, it turned out they wanted “Oprah” tickets and their messages.

Mr. Winke enjoyed playing for the Ritz Lions on the Near North Hotel Softball League. His traded his calm demeanor to become “The Closer”—a fierce hitter and pitcher who competed against the staff of The Drake, the Four Seasons, the Hyatt and other hotels.

He grew up in Westchester and attended Proviso West High School and Loyola University. In 1975, he started at the Ritz as a bellman. A young woman who worked in housekeeping caught his eye. She didn’t want to date anyone from work, but he pursued the lovely Raquel Silva, a native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, telling her “Don’t get married. . . .till I ask you.”

He was indefatigable. She was a single mom at the time, and he used to tell her: “Every time I see your son, I feel like he needs a daddy.” They wed in 1978.

The Riverside resident loved all of Chicago’s sports teams. Mr. Winke served as president of the Chicago Hotel Concierge Association and on the board of Les Clefs d’Or USA, said his son, Sean Winke.

In addition to his wife and his son Sean, he is survived by his children, Carlos Cuevas, Ivan Winke, Jon Winke, Jr., Raquel Lynn Winke and Cherizar Winke; his brother, Robert; and his sister, Linda Lee Edwards.

He was laid to rest at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, near Fresh Meadows course, where he recently golfed with Sean. “In his suit jacket, I put the scorecard from when we last played, and I wrote ‘ I love you Dad’ on his golf ball,” his son said, “I put it in his suit jacket so it will be with him forever.
by maureen o’donnell modonnell@suntimes.com

The Passing Mr. Jon Winke Ritz Carlton, Chicago, IL

Dear Friends,

We are grieving the loss of a true giant and beloved friend, Jon Winke, who
passed away unexpectedly Sunday.  Jon was first and foremost a husband and
father, and it was only this past March  that he whisked his wife, Raquel,
on a romantic get away to Paris, their very first trip to the City of
Lights.  The mere mention of his daughters Raquel and Cherizar and sons Jon
Jr., Sean, Ivan and Carlos, and  would elicit pure joy and pride, and his
devotion to family made up thThe Great Jon Winke e core of his being.  Jon’s 2011 induction into the Chicago Concierge Hall of Fame was a
testament to his passion for service and the pride he took in his role as
Chicago ‘s premier Chef Concierge.  So many in the Concierge community have
benefitted from Jon’s mentoring and guidance as evident by the the honor
bestowed on him as the first Hall of Fame inductee!  Jon recently garnered yet another first when his entire department recently
nominated him for Manager of the 2nd Quarter, recognizing Jon for his:
leadership, passion, always being there for you and being the consummate
professional who’s mastered his profession.
Jon was a gentlemen’s gentlemen until he donned his blue softball jersey
and infamously became The Closer, and pitched league championship games in
2008, 2010 and 2012!  Needless to say, Jon was immensely proud of his Ritz
Lions and the softball blue that ran in his veins.
For over 37 years Jon has represented the fabric of The Ritz and we will
forever have cherished memories to hold near in our hearts of how he’s
touched each and everyone one of us.  And as we grieve during this
difficult time of loss we will keep Jon’s beloved family in our thoughts and prayers remain with the Winke family.
Services will be Wednesday – July 3rd from 3pm to 8pm at Conboy Funeral Home, 10501 Cermak Road, Westchester,Il  708-562-5900

 

Please take time to write your condolences to the

Winke family on the Conboy Westchester Funeral Home page

 

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LCD USA VP/ Treasurer Robert Marks with San Diego Concierge Colleagues

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This photograph was taken at the San Diego Monthly Les Clefs d’Or dinner which was held last month at Tapenade Restaurant in La Jolla in La Jolla. The names of the attendees are listed L to R. Justin Sondgeroth-Omni San Diego,Mark Schoenberg-Omni San Diego,Robert Marks-Omni San Diego,Sarah Sbicca– Park Hyatt San Diego,Ewa Skoog-Omni San Diego,Gaby Delgado– Estancia Hotel,Mark Peak-US Grant Hotel,Jean Bush– La Costa Resort,Natalie Miola- Lodge at Torrey Pines(standing behind Jean Bush),Nancy Hirsch– La Valencia Hotel, Lisa Marie Wymann-Lodge at Torrey Pines(behind Nancy Hirsch),Cathy Gomez-Grand Hyatt San Diego and Dean Laurens– Hilton La Jolla.

33rd Les Clefs d’Or, USA Congress – Tiger Raffle

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Dear Friends of Les Clefs d’Or:

Once a year, members of Les Clefs d’Or, USA meet to share educational programs, expand our network of personal contacts and to conduct the annual business of our respective sections. To continue to make these meetings affordable to our attendees, we rely on the generous donations of our hospitality partners.

In addition to sponsorship, please consider donating a Tiger Raffle prize to help us raise much needed funds. Gift certificates for room nights, meals, transportation, services and experiences as well as jewelry or other products you would like to highlight are always appreciated. We also encourage creative promotions to showcase your organization.

This year, we expect over 300 concierges to attend the meeting from all over the United States in September. Please help us to ensure that this meeting is a resounding success. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the Tiger Raffle Co-Chairs listed below.

Thank you for your support!

In Service through Friendship,

Tim Samples ~ Shujaat Khan ~ Melody Williamson ~ Loida Diaz ~ Maria Wittorp

The Passing of James Lesnick

James Lesnick

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of James Lesnick, Concierge at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.
James was a jovial character who loved people and had a passion for what he did. To James this was not only a vocation, but an avocation. This thing that we do gave him life. He found no greater joy than assisting or simply engauging in conversation with total strangers.
His smile would light up a room. Although that electrifying smile is no longer, he will live on in the hearts and minds of those that truly loved him; and they are many from South Florida to Atlanta, to New York City and even Las Vegas.

He was a proud members of his local associations such as the Southern Florida Concierge Association and Goldcoast Concierge Association. He was a long standing member of Les Clefs d’Or USA.

James may you rest with the greatest of men.