PROFILES: Hirikesh Gunesh, ‘Clefs d’Or’ Head Concierge at Royal Palm Mauritius and Souad Benha, ‘Clefs d’Or’ Head Concierge at Royal Palm Marrakech.
Did you know? The first hotel in Mauritius to offer a concierge service was the Royal Palm in 1987. On that occasion, the hotel welcomed concierges from the most luxurious hotels in London (pictured below).
And in 1989, Hirikesh Gunesh started his career at Royal Palm Hotel as Assistant Concierge under the supervision of Mr Antoine Arroyo (who gave impetus to the Clefs d’Or recognition in Mauritius). He was appointed Head Concierge in 1992 and received the highest recognition for grand hotel concierges, the Clefs d’Or. For years, he has had the responsibility for the activities of Clefs d’Or hotel concierges in Mauritius.
In March, it was the turn of Souad Benha, Head Chief Concierge at Royal Palm Marrakech, to receive the Clefs d’Or badge and join the exclusive group of eight women wearing the two crossed golden keys in Morocco.
We asked them a few questions to learn more about their profession and the life of a concierge:
INTERVIEW WITH CONCIERGES Marrakech (SB) and Mauritius (HG)
· The essential destination for shopping?
SB: The souks of the Medina, a monument as old as Marrakech itself and a place where visitors can wander among hundreds of stalls showcasing the wealth of Moroccan arts and crafts.
HG: The small seaside resort of Grand Baie in the vicinity of the hotel is filled with great places for shopping. The small bazaar features colourful local and Indian crafts and on Sunset Boulevard, you will find all the major ready-to-wear fashion brands and Mauritian designer brands.
· The most popular excursion?
SB: A guided discovery tour of the Ochre City, and the most popular places for visits include the Majorelle Garden, the Medersa, the souks and Jamaa El Fna Square.
HG: It is easy to combine different tourist sites in the north of the island: Château de Labordonnais, one of the most beautiful colonial mansions in Mauritius, the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens and ‘L’Aventure du Sucre’, a former sugar factory converted into a museum and telling the story of the island and sugar production here.
· The most original request from a guest?
SB: A request for a helicopter transfer to a restaurant situated at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains (a 20-minute flight) for lunch.
HG: Due to my duty of discretion, I feel obliged to refrain from answering this question! (Laughter)
· The most requested service at your hotel?
SB: Restaurant advice and recommendations are the most requested service, at times even before the guest arrives at the hotel.
HG: Here, guests mostly ask for advice on tourism activities on the island and recommendations on the best places to go.
· One of the most pleasant or exciting aspects of your profession?
SB: In this trade, you are bound to always keep abreast of anything new happening in the city and the country. It’s definitely not monotonous and our profession relies on creativity to provide guests with a truly authentic experience.
HG: A concierge is the ambassador of his hotel and this profession allows you to work in synergy with all the other departments but also with external service providers. This profession is about guest contact and interpersonal skills are essential.
· …………….. Anything else you would like to add in closing?
SB: Passion, patience, good listening skills, creativity, attention to detail and open-mindedness are essential qualities to succeed as a concierge.
HG: You should know your guests and their habits in order to offer a fast, efficient, quality service. Patience and discretion are also key qualities for a concierge.