Keys of Gold

Distinction recognizes the best concierges in the world.

You’re in Edmonton on business. The meetings are done for the day and you’re looking to eat at one of the city’s finest restaurants, or are looking for good seats for an Edmonton Opera performance or an Edmonton Oilers game.

That’s where the concierge comes in. The concierge’s job is to connect guests to great experiences in the city, including helping to secure hard-to-find tickets or restaurant tables.

And the Westin’s Nella Mirante is one of only two hotel concierges in the city to wear the Clefs d’Or lapel pin. She was the first to get one, and is the only woman in the city who has the pin. The Union Internationale des Concierges d’Htels is an international organization that recognizes the best concierges with the pins. And Mirante is hopeful that Edmonton, like Calgary, will one day get its own branch. But, to be recognized as an official branch, a city needs to have four member hotels and at least six concierges who wear the gold-key lapel pins.

“I would like to be where Calgary is at, but it will take a few more years,” says Mirante.

The Westin is regularly at 90 per cent occupancy or better and, as Edmonton’s restaurant and entertainment scene evolves, it’s harder for guests to arrive in the city and expect to show up at venues and find seats. That’s where a concierge like Mirante comes in.

“People don’t all understand what concierges do,” says Mirante. “It’s a lot different than asking the doorman for restaurant recommendations. We work to get you the toughest tickets to find in the city. We’ve built our networks. And Edmonton is no longer a city where you can just show up somewhere and expect to get in.”

And, yes, Mirante has had her share of odd requests, including a guest who asked for a bowl of Life Savers – with the condition that they all be cherry Life Savers. So Mirante had to go through rolls of Life Savers and separate the red ones.

As of right now, only the Westin and the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald are members of the Les Clefs d’Or Canada. Mirante hopes that the completion of the downtown arena will bring in more four-star hotels, expand Edmonton’s hospitality industry and hopefully graduate more concierges into Clefs d’Or status.

Remember, a hotel guest that has a positive impression of his or her experience will leave comments behind – and on travel websites. And a positive relationship with the concierge can lead to enthusiastic reviews for the city.

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