‘Concierge...I want the world on a plate’

2010-10-24 09:05

Out-of-season flowers for Oprah’s best friend, a police escort for football legend Pele and a lion’s tooth.

Judging by these requests from hotel guests, there’s only one ­person to call when you want the nearly impossible done in a jiffy: the hotel concierge.

Deon Prinsloo, guest services manager at Montecasino’s ­Palazzo and ­organiser of the first ­conference for concierges in ­Johannesburg this week, recalls a guest who wanted to fly.

“A guest wanted a helicopter from the Rovos Rail train station in Pretoria to fly him to Sabi Sand Game Reserve in Mpumalanga. So we built a helipad­ by the train ­station. Then he wanted to fly to Sun City from Sabi because he didn’t want to drive.”

Michael Prothero, head ­concierge at the Saxon Boutique Hotel in Sandton, remembers a persistent Italian couple who went to the Lion Park outside Johannesburg every day for five days.

“Eventually, because of her ­persistence, the woman had a ­private session with the lion cubs,” said Prothero.

Then there are the celebrities.

“Pele had to get to the opening ceremony of the World Cup and he was late so we had to arrange for a police escort,” said Billy Chetty of the Da Vinci Hotel in Sandton.

Music supremo Quincy Jones had Prinsloo import yellow tulips for his friend (and Oprah’s best friend), O Magazine editor-in-chief Gayle King.

But one request directed to the Westcliff Hotel guest relations manager Alwyn Hoffman takes the lion’s share of outrageous ­requests.

“A guest asked for a lion’s tooth,” he said. “We first had to find out if that was legal, which it was, but we couldn’t get it.”

Which requests from guests are out of the question? “Drugs and prostitutes. The concierge is never allowed to say no, except for this request,” said Prinsloo.

“I get asked for these quite often and I give them a straight and ­simple ‘no’.”

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